French expression of the day: J’ai le seum

French expression of the day: J'ai le seum
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This will help you out on a emotionally rainy day.

Why do I need to know j'ai le seum?

It’s a really cool way of saying that you’re feeling down. Plus, it’s so trendy that you might even teach your older French friends something new.

What does it mean?

It's one of the many slang expressions that young French people use. Avoir le seum means feeling ‘down’, ‘sad’ or ‘pissed’. 

J’ai le seum! – I’m so pissed/sad/angry/disappointed.

How do I use it?

If you, like any teenager, find yourself overwhelmed with negative emotions, but unable to distinguish whether they are sadness, anger or something else – just say you have le seum.

Le seum allows you to express your frustration without really defining what you're feeling. From tiny blows to the major downers – le seum is a great way to blow off some steam when you're feeling blue.

J’ai trop le seum, j’ai plus de batterie sur mon téléphone. – I’m so pissed, I don’t have any battery on my phone.

Tellement le seum! Mon équipe de foot a merdé hier, donc ils ont perdu le match – I'm so annoyed! My football team fucked up last night, so they lost the game. 

Ma copine a rompu avec moi hier soir. Le gros seum, quoi. – My girlfriend broke up with me last night. Really depressing, you know.

Where does it come from? 

Seum comes from the Arabic word sèmm, which means venom – which admittedly perhaps is the coolest way of saying that one is feeling upset. I'm feeling venomous!

The French language has adopted about 250 Arabic words, according to Le Figaro. Like seum, most of these have spread from the Parisian banlieues and into everyday language. (Among our favourite banlieue expressions is neuf-trois, which you can read about here).


As you may have noticed already, French people know how to express discontentment with linguistic variety as well as style. There are plenty of other ways to say j'ai le seum.

J'ai le cafard – I got the blues

J'ai le blues – I got the blues

J'ai le bourdon – I got the blues

J'en ai marre – I'm fed up

J'en ai ras le bol – I'm fed up

This list is not exhaustive.

Member comments

  1. why do so many words of the day seem to be negative, downers and even rude. Please post more positive, uplifting words and expressions.

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