French Slang Words You Need To Know

French slang AKA “The language of misery” – Les Misérables
Two women talking over coffee in France

Whether you’re an advanced French learner or at the very beginning of your language journey, learning some French slang words will take you to the next level. Yes, having a base understanding of French phrases will take you far when you’re traveling to a French-speaking country. Yet as with most languages, it would be a bit off-putting to meet someone that spoke entirely in formal French. French locals will of course understand and engage with those speaking the formal version of the language, but it’s more common to find them using a lot of slang in their daily conversations. So, if you want to sound like a French native, we suggest you add some slang to your growing French vocabulary.

Like most countries, different regions of France have their own distinct slang. Argot, meaning slang in French, popped up in France in the 17th century. It originally was the name of a group of thieves, les argotiers, and later evolved into l’argot as a general label for all thieves or beggars. These groups spoke in their own secret language to prevent outsiders from understanding them, which led to the language being dubbed Argot. While it can’t be found in any French textbooks, Argot, is by most definitions a distinct language. Argot has evolved into the creation of other language systems such as Louchébem and Verlan. 

Parisian French Slang

There are a many different slangs that have lived in Paris, like Louchébem, which was slang spoken by Parisian butchers until the 1950s. That said, there’s not one distinct “Parisian” slang, as it’s a mix of of more widely used French slang in combination with vocabulary specific to Paris. Some of these words are almost as funny as French’s animal idioms.

EnglishStandard FrenchParisian French
CigaretteUn CigaretteUne Clope
HouseUne MaisonUne Baraque
BucksL’argentDes Balles
CarUne VoitureUne Bagnole
MehPas MalBoff
Loaded (Rich)RicheBlindé

For a fun take on the differences between Parisian slang and Standard French check out the video below:


Parisian French is heavily influenced by French slang or Verlan, which explains its differences in vocabulary from more traditional French. 🇫🇷 Start learning French today at the link in our bio 🔗 #paris #parisian #parisianfrench #learnfrench #learningfrench #frenchlesson #frenchlessons #frenchteacher #frenchclass #frenchstudy #visitfrance #visitparis #travelfrance #francetrip #eurotrip #frenchculture #france #bilingual #polyglot #multilingual #babbel

♬ original sound – Babbel


One of the most widespread French slangs, Verlan is used by youths in many cities and suburbs across France. While it’s not really a language, as it’s based on the inversion of standard French words, it’s becoming more and more mainstream in daily French language. If you’ve seen the funny French Barbie poster, then you’re already familiar with some Verlan!

EnglishStandard FrenchVerlan
Like this/thatComme çaComme aç
PartyUne FêteUne Teuf
Thank youMerciCimer
Learn a new language today.
Try Babbel