French word of the day: Glauque

French word of the day: Glauque
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This expression has nothing to do with guns (although it sounds like it does) but it's a bulletproof way of turning down an idea without further explanation.

Why do I need to know glauque?

It’s an example of French slang that you’ll hear a lot.

Why does it mean?

Although it sounds like “Glock” the gun, it has nothing to do with firing bullets. 

Glauque is one of the many French slang words where the meaning changes slightly depending on the context. The best English translation is probably ‘shady’.

C’est glauque – '‘it’s shady’'

Shifty, fishy, smelly, dodgy or unpleasant are other options. (Sometimes glauque encompasses all of these elements.)

What's nice about glauque is that it's just enough in itself to discard something. No further explanation needed.

Is the restaurant glauque, you say? OK, we'll go somewhere else.

You don't need to specify whether it's smelly-glauque, dark-glauque or if it's the food that's glauque.

Practically anything can be thrown off as glauque

Oh non, pas ce bar! Il est tellement glauque – Oh no, not that bar! It’s so dodgy.

C’est glauque comme concept – What a shady concept.

Ce mec est grave glauque – That guy is so shifty.

Other options are louche (shifty), or even its hip, younger, verlan brother: chelou.
Another way to go is sordide, which is more specific and formal – and better to use in a professional setting or in an important discussion if, for example, you have reservations about one of your colleagues.

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