French Word of the Day: Hallucinant

Sam Bradpiece
Sam Bradpiece - [email protected]
French Word of the Day: Hallucinant
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French word is used to describe much more than your wacky aunt's experience with magic mushrooms.


Why do I need to know hallucinant

Because this French word is used in everyday conversation and it does not mean what you might imagine at first. 

What does it mean? 

Hallucinant - roughly pronounced ah-loo-see-nahn - can be best translated as 'mind-blowing', 'amazing' or 'surprising'. 

Once the preserve of psychiatrists to describe hallucinatory phenomena, it was picked up by the general public over the course of the 20th century. Today, when people use the term, it is used to describe something so extraordinary that it could be a hallucination. 

Hallucinant is a word most commonly used in a familiar setting and probably not one to use during a job interview or during a visit to the prefecture. More formal synonyms include impressionnant (impressive), frappant (striking) and extraordinaire (extraordinary). 

You can also use halluciner, literally 'to hallucinate', as a verb. This is rarely done to talk about actual hallucinations but more often than not, to express a sense of surprise, shock or simply having one's mind blown.

For example, you might moan and say 'j'hallucine' after realising your train will be delayed (again).

Use it like this 

T'as regardé le match hier soir? C'était hallucinant - Did you watch the match last night? It was mind-blowing. 

Son nouvel album est hallucinant - His new album is amazing

C'est un quartier hallucinant - It is a crazy neighbourhood 

La variété est hallucinante - The variety is surprising 


J'ai halluciné sur le fait qu'elle a démissionné - I am shocked that she resigned 

Non mais j’hallucine, elle a vraiment fait ça ? – I can’t believe it, she really did that? 



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