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French word of the day: Chiottes

Don't read this if you're of a delicate and refined disposition.

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

Why do I need to know chiottes?

Because you don't want to mistake it for the plural version of un chiot – a puppy.

What does it mean?

The dictionary of the French daily Le Parisien defines chiottes as “a room containing a container allowing a person to indulge his urination or defecation needs.”

In other words, chiottes is the French term 'loo' but it's not one to use in polite society. This is slang, so Aller aux chiottes is equivalent to 'hit the can' or 'head to the crapper'.

It comes from the verb chier, which means to 'shit', a less nice way of saying faire caca – 'take a dump'.

Like the French use both the plural version of toilette – je vais aller aux toilettes or au toilette both mean 'I'm going to the bathroom – you can use both the single and plural version of (la) chiotte.

NB! The term chiottes is very colloquial and you should refrain from saying it if you are in presence of people who might find vocabulary such as the French equivalent of 'shit' vulgar.

Use it like this

However, if you are with friends at a bar you could say

Je vais aux chiottes, j'arrive. – Just got to hit the can, be right back.

Elle est où Théo ? Il est partie au chiotte. – Where's Theo? He just popped to the loo.

Il y a du monde aux chiottes ? – Is there a line for the loo?
Les chiottes ici sont tellement sales, c'est infernal ! – The loos here are so dirty, it's horrific!
Toilettes – toilets
WC –  WC
Latrines (old) – latrines

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For members


French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

This French expression is not the kindest, but it will certainly get your point across.

French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

Why do I need to know bordéliser?

Because when things feel chaotic, you might want to use this word.

What does it mean?

Bordéliser roughly pronounced bore-del-ee-zay – comes from the swear word “bordel” which means brothel.

In popular usage, bordel is used to describe a mess or a chaotic environment, and bordéliser turns the bordel into a verb – meaning to make or create disorder, disaster or chaos. 

During periods of unrest in France, you may hear people blame one group for causing the problem by using this expression. Keep in mind that bordéliser is not polite language – the English equivalent might be to “fuck (or screw) something up”.

One popular theory says that the root word bordel comes from medieval French – at the time, sex workers were explicitly not allowed to work near the ports, so they were relegated to wooden huts or small houses – or bordes, in French –  away from the city.

You may also hear another French expression that uses the same root word: “c’est le bordel”. 

This literally translates to “it’s a brothel” but it is used to describe a situation that’s untidy, messy or chaotic, both literally and figuratively as in  ‘what a bloody mess!’ or ‘it’s mayhem!’ or ‘what a disaster!’

Use it like this

Le militant accuse le gouvernement de bordéliser le pays avec sa réforme impopulaire. – The activist accuses the government of “fucking up” the country with its unpopular reform.

Tu as bordélisé l’appartement et notre dynamique de colocation en achetant le singe comme animal de compagnie. Qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ? – You have screwed up the apartment and our roommate dynamic by buying the monkey as a pet. What were you thinking?