For members


French phrase of the Day: Mon vieux

You might prefer not to be called old, but in France it's a nice thing.

French phrase of the Day: Mon vieux
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mon vieux or ma vieille?

Because it's a widely used casual term of endearment.

What does it mean?

As most people with a fairly basic grasp of French will know vieux (or vieille if you are talking about a woman or a feminine object) means old. So calling someone mon veiux is calling them my old fella.

But in fact this is a common term of endearment similar to calling someone mate or pal.

And it's regularly used too. While its closest English translation – old man or old boy – is now very old fashioned and not often heard outside World War II movies, the French equivalent is still common.

Salut, mon vieux, ça va? – Hiya pal, how's it going?

Merci, mon vieux, c'est mon vin préféré – Thanks mate, that wine is my favourite

As is its female equivalent ma vieille.

Merci d'avoir fait le ménage ma vieille, les tapis sont nickels – Thanks for doing the housework, love, those rugs are spotless

Ne t'inquiète pas ma vieille, il va revenir – Don't worry mate, he'll be back

For more French terms of endearment that sound rather insulting, click here.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.