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French Expression of the Day: C’est ouf

The Local France
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French Expression of the Day: C’est ouf
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French expression might help you describe your feelings following a surprising election result - or other dramatic events.

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Why do I need to know c’est ouf?

Because this might come in handy if you find something shocking.

What does it mean?

C’est ouf - roughly pronounced say oof - is a colloquial French expression to express shock or surprise. 

It is the rough equivalent of ‘it’s wild’ or ‘it’s crazy/mad’ in English or just 'wow'.

C’est ouf can be either positive or negative, depending on the context. 

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The word ouf is the verlan, or backwards slang, of ‘fou’ which means crazy. While ouf is colloquial, you can still hear it used by people of different generations - not just young people.

Similarly, you might see the French press say ‘un truc de ouf’ or ‘c’est ouf’ when describing a shocking or surprising development. A good example would be French daily Libération’s use of the phrase in their front page following shock result of the 2024 parliamentary elections.

There are plenty of other situations where you might hear the word ouf in French. For example, you can simply say ouais de ouf to emphatically agree with someone. This use of the word basically means ‘yeah, absolutely’ or ‘yeah for real’.

Use it like this

C'est ouf que tu aies pu prendre deux mois complets de vacances à la suite. - It’s wild that you were able to take two full months of holiday back-to-back.

Tu as vu les résultats des élections ? C'est ouf ! Je ne peux pas croire que nous ayons gagné. - Have you seen the results from the election? It’s wild! I cannot believe we won.

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