5 French Words They Don’t Teach You at School

Most likely you have studied French with different teachers and books for years, you feel good about going to France and practice your French there. You hear a group of French people talking and you feel like what the heck…

You struggle to understand what they are talking about. You hear words, expressions you have never heard before… The reason is that academic study does not prepare you enough to be able to understand a real conversation with native French.

I am going to give you 5 French words they don’t teach you at school


The word may sound quite strange, if you hear it for the first time. Ouf is one of the most used French verlan. Verlan is a French reverse slang, whose specifics are playing with syllables and pronouncing words backward toward. Ouf actually means Fou, crazy in English.


Tu es ouf si tu fais ça !

You are crazy, if you do that!


The same as above, meuf is another case of verlan. The original word was femme, which turns into meuf. It means a girl and is used especially among young people. For a guy you would say un mec.


J’ai parlé avec la meuf.

I talked with the girl.


Voilà technically refers to things that are farther away but can also indicate, when something is done, in place or to point out that something has just arrived. French speakers say quite a lot, it can be translated to here it is.


Voilà ! Je pensais l’avoir perdu !

Here it is! I thought I lost it!


Me voilà !

Here I am!


Trop can be translated to too, like it’s too soon, but in spoken French it means very, a lot. The word makes emphasis on the adjective. You will often smile when you will hear them saying:

C’est troooop beau !

It’s very beautiful!

Or when to say something is cute.

C’est troooop mignon !

It’s so cute!


Quite overused by many French people bref is use to make a long story short. It can in some cases be translated to anyway.

Example :

Bref je dois partir !

Anyway I have to go!

J’ai eu quelque problème quand je suis allé là-bas… bref je peux plus y aller.

I had some problems when I went there, in short, I can’t go there anymore.

One more!


Putain may be one of the most used and popular French words. It has many different meanings according to the context. I found a funny video that will helps you to understand it better!

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Related Article :

Read 5 Funny Words Young French Speaker Use

14 thoughts on “5 French Words They Don’t Teach You at School

  1. Hi!
    I’m sorry i’m french too, and please don’t say “meuf” at another girl, it’s degrading, just say “les filles” : “salut les filles” = “hi girls!”

    1. Actually “meuf” is used quite naturally among young People and for most it s not degrading at all. My girlfriend and à lot of my female friends use it very often. Obviously you shouldnt use it when speaking with older People or at work 🙂

      1. Well…I’m young (or I think I am !) and if that would be totally ok to use it with closed friends, I would be very offended to be called that way by someone else !

  2. My first time in France was on exchange with a family named Badinand. The mother was constantly saying their last name and I was totally confused why. After a few days we finally deciphered it: bien, dit donc!

  3. Excuse me, but never say ‘putain’! It’s a very vulgar word, very impolite! It means ‘whore’, ‘bitch’, ‘slut’,… Can you imagine your talk with such words??

    1. Yep, the meaning in French is Whore, but most of the time it’s used as “fuck”. By the way, you can understand it just by watching the video, which is perfect.

      It’s still cursing, so if you use it remember that (even if 85% of the population uses it).

      By the way, using putain for it’s real meaning, “whore”, is correct but quite uncommon, a little old-fashioned. We’d say “pute”. But please, please, never ever use it. It’s reaaaaaally offensive.

      About “meuf” : actually it’s the verlan of Femme, like Keuf is the verlan of flic (cop). It’s used among young people, but can be offensive. I would compare it to “chick” in english (even if the correct equivalent for “chick” would be “poule”, quite offensive too for a woman). Maybe you could write an article about verlan and how to decypher it.

  4. About “Bref”, it was not used so much, but has been popularised by a small sketch series, named “Bref”.

  5. “Meuf” is definitly not degrading in france!!! Just dont use it at work and with People you dont know. I m a girl and I use it often with my sisters and friends. 🙂

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