Home French Language 21 Cool and Distinctive French Phrases (With Audio)

21 Cool and Distinctive French Phrases (With Audio)

21 Cool and Distinctive French Phrases (With Audio)


unique french words

There are tons of phrases that you simply’ve been utilizing since day considered one of studying French, however what number of cool French phrases do you employ in your conversations?

Studying distinctive French phrases and phrases will allow you to construct your French vocabulary and talk successfully within the language.

On this put up, we’ll educate you 21 cool and distinctive French phrases that you should use in your conversations that can assist you sound like a local speaker!


Distinctive and Cool French Phrases That’ll Make You Sound Like a Native Speaker

Right here, now we have compiled an inventory of 21 distinctive and funky French phrases so that you can add to your vocabulary to sound like a local speaker!

1. Débrouillard

A tough translation of this phrase could be “resourceful” or “wily,” but it surely actually doesn’t have a real English equal. 

In French, a débrouillard is an individual who is ready to care for issues for themselves. When life will get powerful, they’ll overcome difficulties with out a lot assist from others. That isn’t to say somebody who’s débrouillard gained’t ask for assist—they may, if they should get issues performed—however they don’t rely on different folks to resolve their issues for them.

The way it’s used:

My mom used this phrase once I was being a whiny child: Débrouille-toi ! (Determine it out!)

It may also be used to seek advice from a constructive character trait: Le garçon est jeune mais débrouillard. (The boy is younger however resourceful.)

2. Cochonnerie

This phrase could remind you of the French phrase cochon  (pig), and it’s really not far off.

Cochonnerie is utilized in a wide range of conditions, however the connotation is unfavorable, as it will probably imply “junk” or “garbage.” You could use this phrase to seek advice from junk meals, or to one thing ineffective.

The way it’s used:

If you wish to seek advice from meals, you possibly can use this phrase in a phrase like: La nuit d’Halloween j’ai trop mangé de cochonneries. (On the night time of Halloween I ate an excessive amount of junk meals.)

In a unique setting, a instructor could inform her class to cease misbehaving with the warning Arrêtez vos cochonneries ! (Cease this nonsense!) 

3. Bêtise

This phrase actually means “stupidity,” but it surely goes a lot deeper than that. That is one other phrase that doesn’t instantly translate to English. It’s used to explain a conduct or motion that lacks fundamental intelligence, frequent sense or judgement. Nevertheless, it may also be utilized in a wide range of different sudden methods.

Be aware {that a} totally different type of this phrase, les bêtes , can seek advice from animals, and colloquially this phrase can be utilized to explain somebody who has been working very exhausting comme une bête (like a canine).

The way it’s used:

If a gaggle of youngsters are partaking in what is perhaps described as rebellious or dangerous conduct, comparable to coming house previous curfew, their dad and mom would possibly say: Les adolescents font des bêtises. (The children are being silly).

4. Bon vivant

Bon vivant actually interprets to “good liver” in English, which doesn’t fairly have the identical ring to it, though we might seek advice from a bon vivant as somebody who “lives it up.”

The way it’s used:

The French use this as a strategy to describe somebody who enjoys the finer issues in life.

An instance could be: 

Tu sais que Depardieu boit 14 bouteilles d’alcool par jour ? (Do you know Depardieu drinks 14 bottles of alcohol per day?)

N’importe quoi ! Mais c’est vrai que c’est un bon vivant ! (No approach! Though it’s true that he’s dwelling it up!)

5. Astre

Astre interprets to “celestial physique” and is commonly used as one other phrase for étoile  (star) however the distinction is that astre doesn’t imply star. It’s an unspecific time period that may signify something from “star” to “planet” to “angel.”

La nuit j’adore regarder les astres. (At night time I really like wanting on the stars.)

The way it’s used:

Astre is principally used to explain one thing luminary and otherworldly, and might even be utilized in reference to folks. For instance:

T’es belle comme un astre !  (You’re as lovely as an angel!)

6. Regard

Other than being a verb kind that comes from the infinitive regarder (to look/watch), regard may also be used as a noun in French.

The way it’s used:

It alludes to the expression of somebody’s eyes, so in that sense regard is corresponding to the English phrase “gaze.” For instance, somebody would possibly say:

Quel regard !  (What expressive eyes!)

However it signifies a lot greater than that. It additionally refers to a glance and a presence that’s expressed solely by way of the eyes.

For instance, if you hear one thing like, avec son très beau regard il va avoir du succès dans sa carrière de comédien , in English we may translate it to one thing alongside the strains of “with such a piercing gaze he will likely be profitable in his appearing profession.”

7. Tête de pioches

You could be acquainted with French phrases of endearment, comparable to mon chou (my candy bun) or mon coeur (my love). Tête de pioches is the other.

That is one thing you would possibly say to somebody who’s appearing with out rationale or forethought. Maybe they have been engaged in bêtises (stupidity) or cochonneries  (nonsense). This time period interprets roughly to “blockhead.”

The way it’s used:

I’ll depart it as much as your discretion for what circumstance you’ll save this phrase, but it surely’s not one thing you’d use in a proper setting! A mom could seek advice from her careless baby as a tête de pioches the tenth time they knocked over a water cup on the dinner desk (not that I communicate from expertise…).

8. La grasse matinée

You’ve woken up later than typical with out an alarm. You slowly pad across the kitchen fixing a cup of espresso and a chunk of toast… then get proper again in mattress. You would possibly lie there whereas the espresso brews, scrolling on social media or watching your favourite TV present. A lazy morning sleeping in—that is what grasse matinée refers to, despite the fact that it interprets actually to “fats morning.”

The way it’s used:

Use this everytime you wish to describe the very best sort of morning: sluggish, relaxed and with nothing urgent on the agenda. When you loved sleeping on this morning, you would possibly point out, j’ai fait la grasse matinée jusqu’à midi. (I slept in till midday).

9. L’embouteillage

Translated in English to “bottling,” this phrase is used to explain sluggish or congested site visitors. 

The way it’s used:

You’d use this phrase simply as you would possibly in English. You would possibly say, il y avait de l’embouteillage sur la grande route ce matin.  (There was slow-moving site visitors on the freeway this morning.)

10. Avocat

This phrase can imply two utterly various things. Relying on the gender and the context, avocat may translate to “lawyer” or “avocado.”

Though the gender will help to tell apart which you’re speaking about, this will get a little bit complicated as a result of the masculine type of avocat (un avocat ) can imply male lawyer or avocado. Nevertheless, the female model, une avocate , means feminine lawyer.

The way it’s used:

This one’s fairly self-explanatory, however as we’ve seen, you’ll be counting on context right here as a result of gender could generally lead you astray. Let’s simply say that you simply’ll need to assume your viewers isn’t bête  (silly) and can have the frequent sense to know whether or not you’re referring to an lawyer or the principle ingredient in a bowl of guacamole.

11. L’ennui

You’ll have seen this phrase referenced in English, and like different French phrases, it’s been tailored to be used outdoors of the French language sphere.

That stated, that is one other of these French phrases that doesn’t fairly have the identical connotation in English. A tough equal could also be “boredom,” however there’s extra to it than that.

The way it’s used:

This phrase can change its which means relying on the setting. You would possibly say, je m’ennuie ! (I’m bored!), but when it’s pluralized (by including an s), the phrase refers to troubles or nuisance: des ennuis au bureau (bother on the workplace).

12. Mince

A tough equal of this phrase could be “shoot” or “darn,” though it interprets actually to “skinny.” It is a slang phrase that can be utilized to specific gentle frustration or annoyance.

The way it’s used:

You possibly can use this in most settings with out an excessive amount of concern for firm. Whether or not you simply stubbed your toe or loaded the fallacious powerpoint presentation at an enormous assembly, you’d be secure to exclaim, mince !

13. Gueule

In French, gueule can be utilized numerous contexts. By itself, this phrase actually interprets to “the mouth of an animal.”

The way it’s used:

Gueule is usually utilized in French to seek advice from somebody’s face or head.

The phrase gueule usually has a unfavorable connotation:

Avec une gueule comme ça il va surement avoir le rôle du criminel. (With a face like that he’s certainly going to get the position of a legal.)

The French additionally use it to inform somebody to ferme ta gueule !  “Shut your mouth!” (You possibly can drop the ferme for the extra colloquial ta gueule ! )

14. Gueule de bois

Gueule de bois actually means “picket throat/mouth.” It is a type of slang that refers to a hangover.

This expression comes from the sensation one would possibly get after an evening of ingesting that leaves the throat dry and dehydrated.

The way it’s used:

Hopefully you gained’t usually expertise that regretful feeling after a late night time out, however subsequent time you do, you’ll be able to say: J’ai mal à la tête ! J’ai la gueule de bois. (I’ve a headache! I’ve acquired a hangover.)

15. Nostalgie de la boue

Nostalgie de la boue actually interprets to “eager for the mud” and was coined by Émile Augier, a French dramatist and poet. In English, we don’t have an expression that conveys the precise which means of this, so naturally we adopted the French phrase.

The way it’s used:

This expression can be utilized to refer to varied conditions, however usually it’s used to seek advice from individuals who need one thing decrease than what they’re accustomed to.

For all you literature followers on the market, an instance of this may be present in “Girl Chatterley’s Lover.” When Constance (Girl Chatterley) confesses that she’s pregnant with Mellors’ baby (Mellors is a working-class man), her husband, an upper-class man, responds to this by saying she’s insane and has nostalgie de la boue.

16. Cartonner

This verb has numerous meanings, so it may be translated into various things in English together with “to crash,” “to bind” and “to assault.”

The way it’s used:

With the surge of French slang making its approach into on a regular basis vocabulary, it’s now extra usually used to specific the success or greatness of one thing.

You could come throughout the phrase cartonner within the dialogue of profitable movies, music and books. Did you simply watch a extremely nice film on the cinema? You possibly can say ce movie a cartonné !  “This movie smashed it!”

Cartonner may also be utilized in regard to folks. When you assume somebody is superior you’ll be able to merely say tu cartonnes !  or “you’re the bomb!”

17. Ras-le-bol

The time period ras-le-bol actually interprets to “bowl stuffed with it” in English, though this isn’t a foodie time period!

The way it’s used:

Ras-le-bol is mostly used to emphasise frustration and agitation, sort of like if you’ve had sufficient of one thing and also you’re now reaching the purpose the place you’ll be able to’t take any extra.

It may be used within the following approach: J’en ai ras-le-bol !  which principally interprets to one thing alongside the strains of “I’m fed up!” or “I’m sick and uninterested in it!” in English.

18. L’appel du vide

This actually interprets into English as “the decision of the void.” Although we will translate this phrase for phrase, we don’t have a precise expression for what l’appel du vide conveys.

The way it’s used:  

L’appel du vide is used to seek advice from that inexplicable and uncontrollable urge to leap that even completely level-headed folks with no need to actually leap could expertise when standing on the sting of a cliff:

J’ai gravi la montagne et lorsque j’ai regardé la vue autour de moi, j’ai senti l’appel du vide ! (I climbed the mountain and once I seemed on the view round me, for a second I had an instinctive urge to leap!)

In French, l’appel du vide refers to all of these indescribable instinctive urges to do one thing unimaginable that seem nearly out of nowhere. It’s a phrase completely coined to specific these existential crises in life. So, subsequent time you are feeling like doing one thing loopy, bear in mind this phrase.

19. Jolie Laide

What could possibly be extra French than seeing magnificence in every part? Being drawn to unconventional magnificence after all! Due to the likes of Serge Gainsbourg (and his tune titled: “Laide Jolie Laide”) there’s a time period for these unconventional beauties, and that time period is jolie laide.

The way it’s used:

Jolie laide instantly interprets to “fairly ugly” in English. The time period conveys the distinctiveness of somebody’s magnificence, one thing atypical that challenges or isn’t aligned with standard magnificence requirements.

Whereas jolie laide isn’t a preferred expression that pops up in day-to-day dialog, it’s one thing chances are you’ll come throughout in vogue publications and blogs due to the net world; and naturally it’s a time period the English talking world has adopted.

Charlotte Gainsbourg est vraiment une jolie laide  would translate to one thing like “Charlotte Gainsbourg is surprisingly enticing.”

20. Contresens

Contresens is the French phrase for “misinterpretation” so in the event you’ve ever made an error in your French translation, chances are you’ll bear in mind your instructor saying: Ce n’est pas right, c’est un contresens  (This isn’t proper, it’s a mistranslation.)

The way it’s used:

Contresens isn’t simply reserved for these issues misplaced in translation, it’s sort of misplaced in translation itself because the phrase is actually made up of two different French phrases: contre which implies “in opposition to” and sens which implies “path.” So contresens may also be used to imply “reverse,” “opposed,” “reverse” and “the fallacious approach.”

Nous avons descendu la rue à contresens !  (We went down the street the fallacious approach!)

21. Empêchement

In English, the phrase empêchement would translate to unexpected difficulties, hold-ups or final minute modifications.

The way it’s used:

It’s used to insinuate that one thing sudden has popped up that may finally break an association or a rendez-vous , so there’s no want for any additional clarification as this one phrase actually says all of it:

Je suis vraiment désolé mais j’ai un empêchement  (I’m actually sorry however I’m going to need to cancel what we deliberate as one thing has come up!)

It’s the most typical and handy approach a French particular person will get out of a plan or a dedication, and all that is with out having to elucidate something!

J’ai un empêchement pour ce rendez-vous.  (I can’t make it to the assembly due to unexpected difficulties.)

What’s So Helpful About These Cool and Distinctive French Phrases?

Studying some enjoyable, cool French phrases gained’t simply develop your vocabulary and allow you to talk, however may even profit your language research in greater methods.

  • They’ll reinvigorate your motivation to study: Assume again to the primary time you heard somebody communicate French. You’ll have felt a deep sense of awe at how lovely the language sounded.

There are a lot of cool French phrases, like those we’ve mentioned above, that may take you again to this sense—whether or not they sound unimaginable, have attention-grabbing definitions or specific one thing we don’t fairly have a phrase for in English.

Discovering Extra Distinctive Phrases for Your Vocabulary

The phrases listed above are only a begin. If you wish to proceed spicing up your vocabulary with probably the most attention-grabbing phrases French has to supply, listed below are some methods to just do that:

  • Studying slang is vital. Take a look at this put up to study 40 French slang expressions to make you sound like a local speaker. 
  • Get genuine publicity to new French phrases. Immersion is an effective way to continuously study new, attention-grabbing phrases, and yow will discover nice supplies all around the web. FluentU’s language studying platform, for instance, provides a library of genuine media clips which might be categorized based mostly on problem stage. Every video comes with interactive subtitles which you’ll hover over for additional details about the phrases used.
  • Want a reminder that French exists outdoors of its personal bubble? Take a look at these English phrases which might be borrowed from French.


Now that you simply’ve discovered 21 cool and distinctive French phrases, begin utilizing them in your French conversations and get them ingrained in your vocabulary.

They’ll quickly turn into second nature to you and your French will sound extra fluent!