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The French phrases you will need for France v England football banter

France are playing England on Saturday in a little tournament called the World Cup, so if you're an English-speaker in France - whether you're interested in football or not - you might have to get involved in some banter. Here are some useful phrases.

The French phrases you will need for France v England football banter
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Les bleus – let’s start with the basics. The French football team are known as les bleus, and the classic cry of encouragement is Allez les bleus (go, France) so don’t be too surprised if someone shouts this at you (in a joking way, of course) if they hear you speaking English.

Les anglais – now we know that les anglais means ‘the English’, but the French are often somewhat vague on the difference between British and English. If you are Welsh, Scottish or Irish expect to be the subject of some banter about ‘your’ team this week, even if you are not supporting England. This might even happen if you are American, Australian or you just happen to be speaking English in public.

Je suis écossais / gallois/ irlandais, je déteste les anglais – start by explaining that you are Scottish/Welsh/ Irish and therefore don’t necessarily support the England team.

Sassenach – if you’re Scottish or Irish and you happen to know that the French person you’re talking to is a fan of the TV series Outlander, you could even chuck in the mildly derogatory term for the English ‘sassenach’ – when the Scotland-set series was dubbed into French the translators obviously couldn’t find a French equivalent of this and kept it in. 

Les rosbifs/les beefs – if you are English you probably already know that your nickname in France is ‘les rosbifs‘ or ‘les rosbeefs‘ – the roast beefs. This refers to both the dish that is the classic for a British Sunday dinner and the red colour that pasty Brits go when exposed to too much French sunshine. Sometimes you will also hear simple ‘les beefs‘.

On va bouffer les beefs – the French verb bouffer is a slang word for eating, like to scoff, so this literally means ‘we are going to eat the beefs’ but you could translate it as something like ‘we’re going to eat that English team for breakfast’ – ie we are going to beat them easily.  

Les grenouilles – food-based nicknames go both ways, if you want to translate ‘frogs’ into French it’s les grenouilles

On va les pliér – literally translated as ‘we’re going to bend them’ it’s more like ‘we’ll smash ’em’ or ‘we’ll crush them’.

On va les tordres – similar to the above is this, literally meaning ‘we’re going to twist them’, but a similar sentiment to ‘we’ll hammer them’.  

Qui ne saute pas n’est pas Français – Anyone not jumping is not French – you might here this one sung/shouted during the match if things are going well for France.

Allez Putain! – French phrases for watching the World Cup

Un mouchoir – a tissue. If things don’t go well for England, expect your French friends and colleagues to be ‘helpfully’ offering you a tissue to dry your tears.

On est en demi ! – we’re in the semi finals. If France are in the semi finals then by definition they will have beaten England. You might also hear this sung (these lads below are singing on est en finale – we’re in the final – but it works for semi finals too).

Manu le poulpe – slightly bizarre one this, but you might have seen some headlines referring to the French president like this. It refers to Emmanuel Macron’s spookily accurate prediction for the France v Poland, where he not only correctly predicted the 3-1 score, but also predicted the three goal-scorers. Manu is the shortened version of Emmanuel and le poulpe (the octopus) refers to the late, lamented Paul the psychic octopus, who specialised in predicting football results. 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

Nine of our favourite French words and expressions of the day

From 'Monsieur Dupont' to a 'Flasher', via an unsavoury metaphor involving flies and a word for meat-lovers, here's a roundup of some of our favourite French words and expressions of the day.

Nine of our favourite French words and expressions of the day

Every weekday, The Local publishes a French word or phrase of the day, with the emphasis on slang, sayings, colloquialisms and (sometimes) swearing. Our aim is to introduce readers to the words and phrases that they won’t learn in French class, but they definitely will hear during the course of everyday life in France.

We’ve been publishing a daily word since 2018, so by now we have a fairly hefty back catalogue – you can find it HERE. Members of The Local can also sign up to our Word of the Day mailing list and get each day’s word or phrase delivered straight to your mailbox.

Here’s a selection of the words and phrases we published in January;

1. Monsieur Dupont

You might know someone named Dupont, after all, it’s a fairly common name in France. And, yet, Monsieur Dupont is not always real – in fact the name is frequently used in a metaphorical context to signify an everyman figure, or someone whose identity is not known.

Pronounced: miss-yur doo-ponn 

Learn more about France’s ‘John Doe’ here.

2. Flasher 

You might be curious why French newspapers are writing about the number of “serial flasheurs” on the country’s roads. But it’s not what you think as this word is a classic faux ami (false friend). Flasher in French does not mean – as it does in English – someone who has exposed themselves in public.

In fact it means either taking a photograph, shining a (metaphorical) spotlight on something or falling head-over-heels in love. The photographic meaning is the most common, particularly in reference to being photographed by a speed camera.

Pronounced: flah-shay 

Find out more here.

3. Larguer les amarres

This originally nautical expression now has a less literal meaning to “let go” of something or launch something new. It’s most commonly heard in the context of a new start like moving house or starting a new job, or the end of something – in particular the end of a love affair.

Pronounced: lar-gay lays ah-mahr 

Find out more here.

4. Être bouleversé

If dinosaurs could talk, they may have used this French phrase to describe being hit by the asteroid. The word can be used in both extremely happy and extremely sad situations, to describe being either delighted or devastated by a turn of events.

Perhaps its closest English synonym is ‘bowled over’.

Pronounced eh truh bool vehr say

We explain how to use it here.

5. Enculer les mouches

Enculer les mouches has an extremely crude literal translation but as a phrase is actually not all that offensive (although it’s definitely casual).

In English we might call someone who is very picky over grammar and spelling a ‘pedant’, in French it’s the distinctly more dramatic ‘sodomiser of flies’. Interestingly, French is not the only language to have a very rude phrase for pedants, others include ‘comma fucker’ and ‘little dot shitter’.

Pronounced: ahn koo lay lay moosh 

Learn more here.

6. Viandard

We know that traditional French cuisine is quite meat-heavy and the French love their meat. However viandard has two meanings – the first being simply a person who loves meat, the second being an unscrupulous person who exploits others for gain. The secondary meaning is though to come from the hunting world.

Pronounced: vee-ahn-darr

We explain fully here.

7. Vœux

Vœux is the plural form of the word vœu, and is useful at weddings and other solemn occasions because it means ‘vow’. But the reason we have included it in our January roundup is because at the start of the year it is common for politicians, CEOs and other leaders to make ‘vows’ to their electorate or employees. 

Pronounced: vuh

Learn more here.

8. Amortisseur

This word might be already familiar to you if you are unlucky enough to have car trouble in France – it means shock absorber. But it can also be used in a metaphorical sense to describe a device or plan that cushions the blow or softens the impact, and in 2023 has a very specific meaning relating to electricity bills.

Pronounced: ah-more-tee-zur 

Let us tell you more here.

9. 6h pile

As any dictionary will tell you, the main meaning of the French word pile is a battery. However it can be used to mean “exact” or “sharp” when used to describe a moment in time – so 6h pile means “6am sharp” or “6am on the dot”. It’s also used in several phrases and expressions relating to time.

Pronounced: peel 

Full details here.

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