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French word of the day: Kiffer

This slang expression is so commonly used that most people have forgotten that it really isn't French at all.

French word of the day: Kiffer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know kiffer?

Despite its non-French origins, if there were a list of 10 slang expressions a French learner should know, kiffer would be on it.

What does it mean?

Kiffer is argot, French slang, and means 'to love' in English.

However, if someone tells you je te kiffe instead of je t'aime for I love you, it might be wise to hold off planning the wedding just yet.

Kiffer is a way of saying that you're 'very into' someone or something, but it's not really the way to express deep, durable love. 

Kiffer can also be translated as 'being crazy about' someone or something, or just 'liking' someone or something 'a lot'. 

Un kif is 'a hobby' that you enjoy doing, the opposite of a chore you dislike.


Kiffer comes from Arabic and means amusement, 'fun' or 'diversion' in English. At its origins kiffer allegedly expressed the joy of smoking hashish. 

That was long ago and since then the expression has become so common in the French language that many French have no idea about what it really means – this is the case for many non-French 'French' words and expressions.

READ ALSO: 11 'French' words that aren't really French at all

Use it like this

Je kiffe ! – I love (it)!

On kiffe, non ? – It's great, isn't it?

Je me suis coupée les cheveux, tu kiffes ? – I got a haircut, do you like it?

Franchement je kiffe trop cet album, c'est un truc de dingue. Faut kiffer le rock, par contre. – Frankly I love this album so much, it's incredible. You have to be into rock, though.

Elle ne kiffe pas trop quand je rentre tard pendant la semaine. – She doesn't like it when I come home late during the week.

Il n'a pas kiffé le restaurant où on a été la dernière fois, on peut tester l'indien du coin ? – He wasn't over the moon about the restaurant we tried last time, could we try the Indian one on the corner?


J'adore – I adore/love 

J'aime – I love/like

Être fou de quelque chose – being crazy about something

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French Expression of the Day: Avoir l’estomac dans les talons

A sensation you might feel around midi after skipping your morning croissant.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir l'estomac dans les talons

Why do I need to know avoir l’estomac dans les talons?

Because you might want to inform your friend waiting in the long restaurant line with you about just how hungry you actually are.

What does it mean?

Avoir l’estomac dans les talons usually pronounced ah-vwar leh-sto-mack dahn lay tah-lonn – literally means to have the stomach in the heels, but it really just means that you are extremely hungry. A British-English equivalent might be ‘my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut’.

As with saying ‘I’m starving’ you wouldn’t use this to talk about people who are genuinely at risk of starvation, it’s just a phrase to complain about being hungry and wanting something to eat.

The expression probably originated around the end of the 19th century, and there are a couple of different ideas about how it came to be.

The first is that it’s intended to paint a picture of your stomach narrowing so much that it goes all the way down to your heels. The second idea proposes that since ‘les talons’ (heels) is a homonym with ‘l’étalon’ (stallion), the phrase might actually be referring to horse meat. You might be so hungry that the only thing that could possibly satiate your empty stomach is a hearty portion of horse meat.

Finally, there’s simply the idea that a person walking a long distance would have severe pain in his heels (or feet), and his hunger is so intense that it is as bad as the pain from walking a long distance.

Regardless of where it comes from, this expression is a sure-fire way to communicate your need for nourishment (or perhaps a nice helping of horse).

 Use it like this

Je ne peux pas attendre plus longtemps dans cette longue file, j’ai l’estomac dans les talons. – I cannot wait in this long line much longer, I’m starving.

Je n’ai pas mangé le déjeuner hier et à 17h, j’avais l’estomac dans les talons. Tout le monde dans le bureau pouvait entendre mon estomac faire du bruit ! – I skipped lunch yesterday and by 5pm I was starving! Everyone in the office could hear my stomach making noise.