All about Verlan in the French language

The French language is beautiful but also complicated. If you’re looking to speak French like a true Parisian, you must know the argot. Argot is defined as a secret language used by various groups to prevent outsiders from understanding their conversations. d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d

If you’ve taken French in school and think you’ll understand everything being said around you, chances are you’ll miss a lot if you don’t know some common Verlan words.

Verlan is a type of argot, and common way French natives speak to each other. Verlan works by switching the order in which the syllables in the word are pronounced. d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d 

Here’s an example: français would be prounounced céfran. In fact, the name of this language is an example in itself. d d d d d d d d d d d

Verlan comes from versl’en, which is just the reversed syllables of l’inverse (meaning, “reversed”). Sound complicated? I’m going to give you some of the most common Verlan words the French use today, what they mean, and how to use them! Keep reading if you want to speak French like a true Parisian.

There’s some history and cultural significance behind this language. It used to be used commonly among the lower class youth, particularly in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris. It is now much more often used among all the different classes, neighborhoods, and cities in French.

It’s also more popular among young people, specifically teenagers, however some of the words have been picked up by people of all ages. An example of a word that has become widespread among almost every French person is the  word meuf, Verlan for femme, meaning “girl”.

Verlan is a popular form of expression in French hip-hop and rap. If you’ve ever heard of Stromae, the famous Belgian pop singer, you may be surprised to know his name is actually verlan for maestro. 

Interested in learning some vocabulary that will help you sound like a native? Here are some of the top spoken words in verlan: d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d

Meuf 

The envers (reverse) of femme, meaning woman.  This is one of the most common verlan words used today. Here’s the word used in a sentence. « Comme elle est belle cette meuf ! », meaning “That girl is beautiful!”.  It can also be used in a possessive sense, such as « C’est ta meuf?» meaning, “is that your girlfriend? ”

Ouf

Ouf is the verlan for fou, meaning crazy! This is one you will hear a lot. It’s also short, and easy to use! You might hear it being said when someone is talking about a party or event that was fun: «C’était un truc de ouf !» This simply means “It was crazy!”d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d 

Chanmé

This is a common one used to describe something that is really cool. Chamné is the inverse for méchant, which translates as “mean”. It’s kind of similar to using the word “sick” in describing something really cool in English.  « Ce film, il est trop chanmé! » “This movie is really good!”

Véner

Vénèr is the verlan for énervé, meaning to be angry or annoyed. «Je suis restée bloquée dans le metro pendant une heure ce matin, ça m’a trop véner.» “I was stuck in the metro for an hour this morning, it really pissed me off”. d d d d d d d d d d 

Chelou

This one comes from the word louche which means sketchy or shady. This one is easy too, because Chelou means exactly the same thing! It is used very often, especially by millennials. « T’es chelou toi, t’as déjà une meuf, non ? » “You’re shady, don’t you already have a girlfriend?” This is one you can use especially at the bars.

Relou

This one originates from lourd (heavy) and actually means “annoying”. You’ll hear this one being used by people of all ages. «J’ai plein de choses à faire demain, c’est relou !» “I have so much to do tomorrow, it’s so annoying!”  d d d d d d d d d d d d d 

Mif

Short for mifa which is verlan for “famille”. «Je suis avec ma mif.» “I’m with my family”. d d d d d d d d d d d d d d f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f f 

Teuf

Teuf is the envers of fête (party) and is regularly used by the younger generation. «Tu veux venir à la teuf ce soir ?» “You wanna come to the party tonight?”j j j j j j j j j j j j j I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 

Pécho

This is the slang for choper meaning “to catch”. Pécho is the common slang word meaning to “hook up” with someone. « Fais attention à ce mec là, il a pécho la moitié des filles ici. » “Watch out for that guy, he’s hooked up with most of the girls here”.

Now that you’ve read some of the most common words, try to listen and pick out verlan among the young, cool, hip French speakers. You’re now one step closer to being a native French speaker!

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