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French phrase of the day: à donf

Word of the day is à donf
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This phrase frequently peppers the conversation of younger French speakers, especially in an extreme situation.

Why do I need to know à donf?

Maybe you hear it all the time but know quite know what it is or maybe you just want a new way of expressing how extreme something was or how keen you are about something.

What does it mean?

It means slightly different things depending on how it is used but you are more likely to hear young people use à donf.

That’s because eagle-eyed readers or experienced French speakers will know that à donf is in fact verlan for à fond.

Verlan is basically France’s “backward” slang lingo where certain words are reversed but essentially keep the same meaning.

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Use it like this

You can use à donf  (or of course à fond) to express how you are doing something to the max: Je suis à donf – I’m flat out, I’m 100 percent.

Or you can use it with other verbs to amplify a statement.

Je suis stressé à donf – I’m totally stressed out

J’adore mettre la musique à donf – I love playing music at full blast.

What are the alternatives?

Verlan is something that not all non-native French speakers feel comfortable about using and obviously in the wrong setting it probably won’t be appropriate – like a work meeting or presentation.

There are alternatives, not least à fond – the original word before those clever Verlanistas reversed it.

You could also use au maximum, for example Il travaille au maximum – He works flat out


Member comments

  1. I just love the daily update on French words. They add a new dimension to my OK but not very colloquial French. These pieces are also very well written, clear and expressive.

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