French Word of the Day: Ken

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French Word of the Day: Ken
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Bad news if this is your name and you want to travel to France (and Scottish people also potentially face some confusion).


Why do I need to know ken?

Because in French, this word has a much spicier meaning than just the boy's name (and Barbie’s love interest).

What does it mean?

Ken roughly pronounced kehn is a perfect example of argot (slang) that you might hear chez les jeunes (among the youth). 

The word itself is quite vulgar, and it technically ‘to have sexual relations’. You likely would not hear adults use this word though, even in a casual setting, as it is predominantly used amongst adolescents. In English, it would be similar to words with sexual undertones like ‘smash’ or ‘bone’.

It comes from the word kéni - which is the verlan (backwards slang) of the verb niquer (to fuck). They carry the same meaning, so keep in mind that this word is quite strong and should only be reserved for certain environments. 


The term can be used in its literal sense (to mean sex) or it can be used to in the figurative sense to describe being screwed over by someone or something. You may also use ken to describe being scammed or taken advantage of - in this case, you would say se faire ken (to be screwed over).

Ken is considered an ‘invariable’ word, meaning it does not need to be conjugated - it is always written as just ken

If you are looking for another vulgar, but more adult, way of saying 'fuck' - you would likely hear or say the verb baiser

In English it's mostly used as a boy's name, but it's also a Scottish dialect word for 'to know' - do ye ken = do you know.

Use it like this

Je me suis fait ken par mon propriétaire qui a encore augmenté le loyer. – I got screwed over by my landlord who raised the rent again.

Samedi soir on a ken pendant que ses parents étaient sortis. – On Saturday night we banged while his parents were out.


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