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French Expression of the Day: Être bouleversé

If dinosaurs could talk, they may have used this French word to describe being hit by the asteroid.

French Expression of the Day: Être bouleversé
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know être bouleversé?

Because if your friend describes themselves this way you could be in for a serious conversation.

What does it mean?

Être bouleversé roughly pronounced eh truh bool vehr say – is a French word used to describe one’s emotions. It can be used in several different scenarios, however.

One might be bouleversé after receiving shocking and disappointing news, but one could also be bouleversé after a deeply happy and joyful event.

The verb bouleverser means to ‘turn something upside down’ or ‘bowled over’ in French, and in the emotional sense it means to be deeply moved or overwhelmed by a situation – either positive or negative.

This word is often used to describe becoming overwhelmed with negative emotions, and in this sense it would be most easily translated by the word “devastated.” 

Bouleversé can also be used to describe something that has “shaken things up” or “upset the usual order.” For instance, when discussing the France-Morocco football match during the World Cup, some of the French press said it had bouleversé the country’s electricity consumption. In this sense, the word was used to say that the match had caused an unusual upset to the electrical grid – a peak that was out of the ordinary.

In most cases, however, you will hear this word being used to describe a person who  is experiencing heavy or intense emotions.

Use it like this

Après avoir entendu la nouvelle de l’accident de voiture, j’ai été complètement bouleversée.  – After I heard the news of the car accident, I was completely devastated.

Elle pensait avoir échoué à l’entretien d’embauche. Elle a donc été complètement bouleversée lorsqu’on lui a proposé le poste et un salaire plus élevé que ce qu’elle avait imaginé. – She thought she had failed the job interview, so she was completely bowled over when they offered her the job and a higher salary than she had imagined.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

You'll want to be sure to only use this French expression in the right contexts.

French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

Why do I need to know les toxicos?

Because you might want to avoid using this term if you simply want to describe someone as behaving in a toxic manner.

What does it mean?

Les toxicos roughly pronounced lay tox-ee-kohs – is the French slang term to describe “drug addict”.

The English equivalent might be “junkie”.

The word comes from a French word for drug addiction more generally. “Toxicomanie” refers to the physical and/or psychological dependence on chemical substances without prescription or therapeutic justification.

The official term for a person addicted to substances is “toximane” – and les toxicos is a shortened, more informal version of the term. 

In French, you can also use the term “dépendance” to refer to addiction as well.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Les stups

Some may use this term in a derogatory way, though its usage depends on context and the person speaking.

Use it like this

Le politicien a critiqué le manque de financement de la police et a cité le fait qu’il y avait trop de toxicos près de la gare. – The politician criticised a lack of funding for police and cited the fact that there were too many drug addicts by the train station.

L’homme m’a dit que je devais faire attention en traversant le parc car il y avait beaucoup de toxicos, mais je me sentais en sécurité.– The man told me that I should be careful when crossing the park because there are many junkies, but I felt safe.