French word of the Day: Chiner

French word of the Day: Chiner
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This is a word that has changed its meaning quite dramatically over time and has developed a whole new sense.

Why do I need to know Chiner? 

Because this word – pronounced shee-nay with a soft c, not a ‘ch’ sound like in chocolate – has so many meanings you’ll want to make sure you use it the right way. 

What does it mean? 

In France, this verb is most commonly used when you go bargain hunting for old furniture or second-hand goods at a Brocante – a vintage or second hand. 

You’ll likely hear something like: Allons chiner à la brocante ! – Let’s go find things at the brocante! (Find out more about this French institution here). 

But for the younger generation it doesn’t quite have the same meaning.

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In fact, chiner somebody means trying to chat someone up or hitting on them. Tu la chines? – Are you hitting on her?

While younger people use it that way, it funnily doesn’t really mean that at all. In fact, according to the French dictionary’s definition, chiner means “to criticise, to laugh at” but this is very rarely heard nowadays. 

Use it like this

Tu as vu ma nouvelle chaise ? Je l’ai chiné à la brocante le week-end dernier ! – Did you see my new chair? I found it at the brocante last weekend!

Ce mec n’arrête pas de me chiner, j’en ai marre ! – This guy keeps hitting on me, i’m sick of it!


Draguer – to flirt or to hit on 

Brocanter – to bargain-hunt

Blaguer – to joke

Although chiner sounds a bit like the English word shine, it does not have this meaning in French. The verb ‘to shine’ is instead briller.

Member comments

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  1. Tu as vu ma nouvelle chaise ? Je l’ai chinéE with a ‘e’ at the end

    J’ai chiné une chaise (féminin)
    La chaise que j’ai chinée. Je l’ai chinée.

    Tou have la chaise, complément d’objet direct located before avoir. 😉

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