Québécois language

Hello English readers ! I know my widget does not translate québécois. So here is a list of expressions and words that are used in my french posts and that might not get translated or get warped and make nonsense. Regularly updated.

Ben : Ben is not the diminutive of Benoît or benedict. It means well or really. For example : On sait ben. We know well. But with the québécois accent it adds another meaning going a bit like a snort…kind of a there ya go mixed with ya see.

C’est pas ben ben clair. Two ben puts emphasis on the word. Here it would translate as Not really, really clear.

Blonde : Avoir une blonde. Une blonde is a girlfriend. I don’t know why we call girlfriends this way but if we say petite amie it doesn’t sound the same. Copine either.Copien and petite amie sound more like terms of friendship than the terms of a romantic relationship.

Bobettes : Petites culottes. Panties.

Bonyenne : Probably comes from Bonyeu or Bon Dieu. Again a word transformed so we wouldn’t get the evil eye from someone too religious.

Carpette : Will be translated as rug but it means floor mat, to rub your feet on and walk all over. C’est une carpette, he’s a floormat. For men, a new term that was coined a few years back is homme whippet. A whippet is a cookie (see image below). delicious but easily crushable. Easily squished…


Célibattante : A mix of célibataire (single) and combattante (fighter).

Chum : Mon chum, my boyfriend. Girls also say ma chum de fille, my girl friend. Guys can also say mon chum as in mon ami, my friend. But if a girl says mon chum, she’s mostly talking about her boyfriend.

Coloc : Abbreviation of the word colocataire which means roommate or flatmate.

Coudonc : Coudonc means something along the lines of…well, I’m not sure if I can explain it ! Something like a mix of groan and come on, and it feels like a complaint,a plea. I think it’s a dimuntive for Écoute donc (listen) but it doesn’t mean the same thing.

Couenne : Peau, skin. Se dorer la couenne means to get a suntan.

Évacher : S’évacher means to be slumped down. The best image would be to picture yourself a teenaged boy sitting somewhere, legs wide apart, his back rounded and crooked, his butt almost at the end of the chair. Lying lazily.

Faque : Alors, then. Faque, là, j’ai été au magasin. Then I went to the store. Ça fait que, abbreviation of.

Feluette or fluet or fluette : Pejorative word meaning that the person is feeble, too thin, not strong.

Fendant, fendante : Same thing as fraîchier. It is a pejorative word for people who think they’re better than other people.

Frette : Il fait frette ! Il fait froid, it’s cold. But saying il fait frette means the temperature is way below cold. It means you have to wear long underwear and possibly a fur hat.

Maudit : Damn. Also maudine, a transformation of the word because maudit had references to the Devil or the damned.

Moé : From the word moi, meaning I.

Mopette :  It means approximately the same thing as carpette. Not a real man, not brave, not strong. Fascinating how we have many expressions and words that describe men as weakelings…

Moumoune : This word comes from an era where Québécois were not as open minded as they are now. Moumoune was an insult to homosexuals. Now it is used to describe a feeling of being scared, or wanting to curl in a ball, something we say when we’re sick or in my case, something I say when I think I’m being judged by my boss the superwoman. Je me sens moumoune.

Noune : It’s a diminutive for minoune which is another word for the feminine sex. There are different words of course…coquille, fleur de lotus, plotte, moule, etc.

Ouin : Besides being the onomatopea for a crying baby, this words means yeah opr yes. For example :  Ouin. Faque là je lui ai dit…Yeah, so I told her…Ouin, pis ? Yeah, so ?

Pinotte : Peanut. Beurre de pinottes : Peanut butter

Pis : Pis means « and ». Pis toé ? Et toi ? And you ? Jean-Louis pis Monique. Jean-Louis et Monique.

Pogne : Avoir de la poigne means to be strong, the person has quite a grip.

Pognées d’amour : Love handles

Pogner : Verb that can mean prendre, attraper, to catch. Pogner les nerfs means to throw a fit. Pogner un gars means to get a guy, get the guy, to catch a guy. Pogner l’autobus means to catch de bus.

Pompette : Being tipsy

Poutine : A poutine is french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. It is delicious and it originates from Drummondville (some say, it’s a controversial issue). Some restaurants do it with grated cheese and it just isn’t the same.

La Banquise, a restaurant open 24h on Plateau Mont-Royal, has a list of different poutines. The one I love is with hot dogs. Sometimes I order the minced meat, and sauteed onions. My boyfriend likes the T-Rex : Minced meat, pepperoni, bacon and smoked sausages. The base is the same : fries, gravy and cheese.

Le Pied de Cochon does it with foie gras. Their poutine is made with home fries, a gravy made with fond de boeuf and foie gras. Very rich and difficult to eat alone.

Toute une poutine means quite a mix-up.

To see a picture of a poutine : http://culinspiration.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/100-foods-to-try-before-you-die/

Séraphin : This is not a word I use but it’s popular. Faire son Séraphin. This expression was created the same way that Doing a Homer was created, through a character from TV. Séraphin Poudrier was a character from the novel Un homme et son péché (1933), then from TV’s Les Belles Histoires des Pays-d’en-Haut. He became even more popular because of the movie made in 2000-something Un homme et son péché. Séraphin was a mean man, he was close to his money and he was mayor of Sainte-Adèle. He was a sharkloan. I think the main reason people hate him is because he exchanged the debts of the owner of the local magasin général against the duaghter of the owner, Donalda. You see what a Séraphin is, huh ? A very bad character. But we mostly refer to him because of the money. He had money but he wouldn’t give any to his wife, Donalda, to buy food and he had everyone at the throat with their debts.

Slack la poulie : Means Relax! with an ounce of stress in it. It is a reference to outside clothes hanging. Word for word it says to relax the pulley to allow the cord to run more smoothly. I say it often, I find this very funny.

Swear words : Québécois swear words are church or religious words. The one I use more than any other is osti. Host. The round wafer you get in communion. To us they do not have a religious meaning anymore. Most québécois do not go to church except at Christmas or Easter. Fewer children have their communions than ever.

Tabarnak is tabernacle. Câlisse, chalice. Sacrament, sacrament. etc.

To put emphasis on anger, surprise or joy we then add a couple one after the other : ostie de câlisse de tabarnak. Then there is the emphasis on anger by really yelling the last syllable : ta-bar-NAK !!

It can be a verb : m’en t’as câlisser une. I’m gonna punch you. It can be a name : Mon p’tit câlisse, toé. My little… Then you can mix a couple and then you get câliboire or my new favorite in period of stress, cibolac.
Toé : From the word toi, meaning you in a familiar way.

Tsé : Abbreviation of tu sais, you know. Tsé veux dire, know what I mean.

11 réflexions sur “Québécois language

  1. petrichoric dit :

    Ha, this is great! Very helpful!

    I’ve just thought of one you should include: « blonde ». The first time I read that I assumed for weeks that you were blond, which was very disappointing, as I had hoped you were brunette (don’t ask me why…it doesn’t make sense. I’m brunette myself, and, for some reason, just don’t have many blond friends…It’s not like I’m avoiding them or anything…but I do think darker-haired people look more interesting).

    • pandabox33 dit :

      Haha !! I remember finding this very funny ! I am a brunette and am very interesting (la-di-daaa) and thank you for this reminder, I will definitely put this on the page !

  2. Très sympa ce lexique! Ces expressions sont très bien décortiquées et elles révèlent à quel point le « québécois » est coloré! Bien le bonjour de Montréal!

  3. Sam dit :

    Hey, I just stumbled on your blog, and I was wondering if you have a good site for québecois verbs. I am doing some editing for a company, and people keep using stuff like sticker and parker, so I was wondering how to find out if these are acceptable in Québec or if they are anglicisms. Merci Beaucoup!!

  4. I find this fascinating becasue my father was French while my mother was English. So many Quebec words and colloquialisms I’m missing in the language that define Canada as a rich culture. I would love to talk to the authour of this blog.

  5. Peter Albert dit :

    Thanks! I learned joual while studying at U de M, didn’t quite know what or why I was saying but I understood the meaning. 30 years later, living in California, I still use these! An outsider to Quebec French might be confused by the simple word « là. » It is used so often, usually repetitively, beginning and/or ending sentences, and sounds more like « lo » …so trying to explain it is hard. How would you describe it?

Répondre à Santa Di Stefano (@SantaBaby45) Annuler la réponse.

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