French word of the day: Cash

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French word of the day: Cash

'Cash' can refer to money in French, but it also has a completely different meaning.


Why do I need to know cash?

Because it comes from English, but has nothing to do with the original definition.

What does it mean?

It’s part of the creeping Anglicisation of the French language: these days it’s perfectly acceptable in France (in certain circles at least) to say you’re going to payer cash when you want to use physical money. Although, as the Académie Française reminds us, there is already a French term for this: Payer comptant.


But that isn’t the only way you will hear cash used in France. It’s also a common adjective for when someone is being particularly blunt or forthright. It’s for people who tread the line between being direct and honest, and coming across as mean.

The tabloid-style media loves to talk about a public figure’s réponse cash (blunt response) to comments someone else has made.

While it’s mainly used as an adjective, in even more informal speech it can also become an adverb, as in the sentence Je te parle cash – I’m being frank with you.

How young French people ended up using the term to mean "blunt" will have to go down as one of life's great mysteries.

Use it like this

Je vais être cash avec toi – I’m going to be straight with you

Cette juge est très cash, elle ne mâche pas ses mots – This judge is very blunt, she doesn’t mince her words

Tout le monde a été choqué par le discours cash du patron – Everybody was shocked by the boss’s frank speech


Franc – frank

Direct – blunt


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