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French Expression of the Day: J’ai les crocs

No, this doesn't refer to the inexplicably popular plastic sandals.

French Expression of the Day: J’ai les crocs
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know j’ai les crocs?

Because you might be confused by your French friend randomly telling you about a type of footwear they own.

What does it mean?

J’ai les crocs – roughly pronounced jay lay crow –  translates precisely to “I have fangs.”

But don’t worry, your friend has not become a vampire, this is actually a colloquialism to describe being “very hungry” or “starving.” In English, a similar comparison might be “hungry like a wolf.”

You might pass by advertisements for fast food using this expression to entice you to come buy a delicious burger, or your friend might tell you that they cannot bear to wait in the restaurant’s long line because they are simply too hungry.

Either way, the expression is a popular way to describe hunger, and it can be used figuratively too. Like in English, you can say you are ‘hungry’ for something besides food.

As the French footballer Olivier Giroud recently said, “J’ai les crocs comme à mes 20 ans” (I am just as hungry [for a win] as when I was in my 20s) when referring to his desire to win the World Cup. 

The expression is colloquial and casual but not rude, and it has been particularly popular since the early 2000s. 

Use it like this

Je ne sais pas si je peux faire la queue pendant 30 minutes. Je préférerais aller dans un restaurant où on peut s’asseoir tout de suite parce que j’ai les crocs. – I don’t think I can wait in a 30-minute line. I would prefer to go to a restaurant where we can sit down right away because I’m starving.

J’ai toujours les crocs juste avant le déjeuner. – I am always starving just before lunch time.

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French phrase of the Day: Etre en PLS

This one can actually save someone's life.

French phrase of the Day: Etre en PLS

Why do I need to know être en PLS? 

Because it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds.

What does it mean 

Être en PLS or je suis en PLS – roughly pronounced zhe swee en pay el ess – literally means ‘I am in the PLS (Position Latérale de Sécurité)’, which is the medical position you put an unconscious victim in. In English you would usually say ‘the recovery position’.

However it’s real meaning is ‘I am tired’ or ‘I am disappointed in a situation’ or sometimes ‘I have a terrible hangover’ – it’s roughly equivalent to saying in English ‘I’m knackered’, ‘I’m broken’ or ‘I’m destroyed’ – but crucially it’s not used for really serious situations that might genuinely destroy your life. It’s an exaggerated complaint. 

This is a phrase common among young people. ‘En PLS‘ is used in its original form by rescue teams trying to save lives, but has recently entered Gen Z’s vocabulary to emphasise a complaint.

Use it like this 

Après cette réunion, je suis en PLS – I’m knackered [British English] after that meeting

J’ai trop bu hier soir, je suis en PLS – I drank too much last night, I’m broken

J’ai perdu mes clés de voiture, je suis en PLS – I lost my car keys, I’m so pissed off. 

You can also say 

Je suis au fond du gouffre – I am at the bottom of the abyss (another dramatic one, it means being disappointed)

Je suis dans le mal – I’m in trouble

Je ne me sens pas bien – I don’t feel good

Je suis KO – I’m exhausted [from the English sporting term KO – knock out]