French word of the day: Déconner

French word of the day: Déconner
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This little term is useful in a wide range of contexts, though perhaps not in front of your French in-laws or boss.

Why do I need to know déconner?

Because it’s a common, very colloquial and versatile French verb. 

What does it mean?

Déconner can mean ‘joking’, ‘kidding’, or ‘messing around’, depending on how you use it.

The most basic translation is that it’s a more explicit way of saying plaisanter, which means ‘to joke’ or ‘mess around’. Il déconne toujours quand il a bu – he always tells jokes when he has had a few drinks. 

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Flipping it around, sans déconner is a common way to say ‘I’m not kidding’ or ‘joking aside’, although if you’re in a more formal setting you should definitely replace it with sans blague, which means the same. Sans déconner ? – Seriously? 

Il ne faut pas déconner – or sometimes just the slang-variant faut pas déconner – can be loosely translated as ‘let’s face it’, or ‘let’s be honest’.

Déconner can also refer to what French online dictionary l’Internaute defines as “faire des bétises,” which means ‘to do stupid things’. A ruder way of saying that would be faire des conneries, which contains the word con (stupid), just like déconner.

Elle déconne can therefore be translates as ‘she’s kidding’ or ‘she’s messing with you’, but also as ‘she’s doing something stupid’, similar to the expression elle fait n’importe quoi. 

Lastly, déconner can mean to be defunct, as in mon ordinateur déconne – my computer is not working properly.

Use it like this

Tu déconnes. – You’re messing around (with me).

Sans déconner, je trouve vraiment que c’est une bonne idée. – Joking aside, I really think it’s a good idea.

Faut pas déconner, on a bien mérité une sortie au restaurant après ce confinement. – Let’s face it, we’ve really earned a night out at a restaurant after this lockdown.

J’ai passé un sale week-end, on voulait regarder la dernière saison de 10 pourcent, mais la télé n’arrêtait pas de déconner. – I had a shitty weekend, we wanted to watch the last season of Call My Agent, but the TV kept messing around.

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