For members


French Expression of the Day: Boules puantes

This is a useful word for practical jokers and lovers of a good metaphor.

French Expression of the Day: Boules puantes
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know boules puantes? 

Because it is a handy if you are a prankster, but you will also hear it used in a less literal way. 

What does it mean? 

Boules puantes, pronounced bool poo-ont, is a French word for stink bombs. 

Boules literally means balls, while puant means stinking. 

La boule puante est un accessoire incontournable pour faire des farces – The stink bomb is an essential accessory for doing pranks

Les boules puantes se diffusent une odeur proche de l’œuf pourri – Stink bombs give off a smell close to rotting eggs 

Sometimes, the word can be used metaphorically to describe kicking up a fuss. 

When 2022 French presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse was accused of having an illegal conflict of interest, she used the phrase to bat away the allegations, saying they were an attempt to kick up a fuss for her.  

C’est malheureusement les boules puantes de la fin de la campagne – It is unfortunately stink bombs at the end of the campaign

Other prank-related vocab

Canular/blague/farce/piège – prank 

Coquin/farceur – prankster

Coussin péteur – farting cushion (whoopee cushion) 

Déguisement – disguise 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Here's a newish addition to French - aka the language of love.

French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Why do I need to know s’autokiffer?

Because French is the language of love, so you should know how to extend that to yourself too.

What does it mean?

S’autokiffer – usually pronounced sought-oh-keef-ay – means to love yourself.

The phrase, a colloquial way to reference self-love, combines the prefix auto (self) with the verb Kiffer, which originally comes from Arabic and is used in French slang to mean “like,” “love” or “very into.” When put together, it becomes the perfect way to say “self-love” in French, but sometimes it can be a bit derogatory if you are referring to someone else in this way.

The French like to put auto in front of words. Some others you might hear are autodérision (to make fun of yourself) and autocongratuler (to congratulate yourself/ pat yourself on the back) or, during the pandemic, autotest for a home test kit for Covid.

The phrase can be used as a verb (ex. je m’autokiffe), or as an adjective (ex. Il est autokiffe) to describe someone who really loves themself – maybe a bit too much.

It can be either positive to talk about someone who is comfortable with themselves or negative when talking about someone who loves themselves more than is reasonable ie they’re arrogant and full of themselves.

This is not something you’ll hear in a formal setting, and you might see some creative ways of conjugating it, as it is primarily a slang phrase. But, if the self-love trend has made its way to France, it is safe to say this word might be around for a while. 

Use it like this

Toutes les photos sur son portable sont de lui-même, il est un peu un autokiffe. – All of his pictures on his phone are of himself, he’s a bit full of himself.

Il est hyper important de s’autokiffer. Les gens disent que si tu ne peux pas s’autokiffer, comment tu peux kiffer quelqu’un d’autre ? – It is super important to love yourself. People say if you cannot love yourself, how can you love another person?


Bien dans sa peau – literally translating as ‘good in one’s skin’ this means a person who is comfortable with themselves and accepts themselves as they are.

Avoir le melon – meaning ‘to have the melon’ this means someone who is big-headed, full of themselves or arrogant

READ ALSO 21 essential fruit and vegeatble expressions