French Word of the Day: Bordélique

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French Word of the Day: Bordélique
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This French word will come in handy next time you are at your wit's end with a messy roommate.


Why do I need to know bordélique?

Because you might want to use this word when complaining about having to clean up after someone.

What does it mean?

Bordélique roughly pronounced bore-day-leek is a French slang term often used to describe someone who is messy or dirty. 

It comes from the word bordel, a swear word meaning ‘disaster’ or ‘mess’. 

The word bordel has been used in France since the Middle Ages, and it is closely related to prostitution and brothels. At the time, sex workers could not work in ports, so sailors had to go to bordes, which were small wooden huts or houses used for prostitution. 


As such, when someone uses the expression ‘c’est le bordel’ it technically translates as ‘it’s a brothel’, but it really means that the situation or location is messy, chaotic or untidy. It's a vulgar term, so in English we might translate it to 'a fucked up situation' or 'a fucking mess'. 

The adjective bordélique grew from the word bordel, and therefore it is still a very colloquial term, to be used only in non-formal situations, although it's usually less explicit. 

A person who is bordélique can be someone who is either physically messy - perhaps they are the flatmate that leaves half empty cups around the apartment and never does their dishes. 

It can also describe someone who is emotionally or interpersonally chaotic. The French LaRousse dictionary refers to someone who ‘sows disorder’.

If you are looking for a more formal term to describe a messy person, consider désordonné or malpropre. For someone who is dirty, you could say sale.

Use it like this

C'est une colocataire très bordélique. Je ne peux plus supporter que ses affaires soient éparpillées partout. – She is a really messy roommate. I am so done with her stuff being scattered everywhere.

Il est bordélique. Partout où il va, le chaos semble le suivre. – He is a disaster. Everywhere he goes chaos seems to follow him. 


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