Verlan - French Slang

French Slang à l'envers

Verlan is a form of French slang that consists of playing around with syllables, kind of along the same lines as pig Latin. Unlike pig Latin, however, verlan is actively spoken in France. Many verlan words have become so commonplace that they are used in everyday French.

To "verlan" a word, simply separate it into syllables, reverse them, and put the word back together. In order to maintain the correct pronunciation, the verlaned word often undergoes some spelling adjustments. Unnecessary letters are dropped, while other letters are added to make pronunciation logical. There are no real rules for this; it's just something to be aware of. Note that not every word can or should be verlaned; verlan is used essentially to emphasize or hide the meaning of the main word(s) in a sentence.

Let's start with the word l'envers, which means "the reverse." Separate l'envers into its two syllables l'en and vers. Invert them, put them together into a single word, and then adjust the spelling:

   l'envers... l'en vers... vers l'en... versl'en... verslen... verlen... verlan

Thus, you can see that verlan is l'envers pronounced à l'envers ("reverse" pronounced in reverse).

Let's try another example:

   pourri... pou rri... rri pou... rripou... ripou

Most single-syllable words are just pronounced backwards.

   fou > ouf
   cool (from English) > looc

The above examples are pretty simple, but verlan gets more complicated when it comes to the e muet, which is a very important sound in verlan. Words that end in e muet (like femme) and words which end in a pronounced consonant and which usually have an e muet sound tacked onto the end (like flic, which is usually pronounced "flique") retain the sound of the e muet when they are verlaned. In addition, when the syllables are reversed, the resulting final vowel sound is sometimes dropped.

   flic... fli keu... keu fli... keufli... keuf

   femme... fa meu... meu fa... meufa... meuf

   arabe... a ra beu... beu ra a... beura... beur

Verlan was invented as a secret language, a way for people (notably youths, drug users, and criminals) to communicate freely in front of authority figures (parents, police). Because much of verlan has become incorporated into French, verlan continues to evolve - sometimes words are "re-verlaned." Beur, commonly heard in the 1980's, has been reversed again to reub. Keuf has been re-verlaned to feuk, with a bonus - it now resembles a vulgar word in English.

Here are some common verlan terms that you should be able to recognize. Remember that verlan is a form of slang, so you probably shouldn't use it when talking to someone you vouvoie.

balpeau   verlan of peau de balle
   meaning: nothing, zip

barjot   verlan of jobard
   meaning: crazy, insane

un beur (now reub)   un Arabe
   meaning: Arab

bléca   verlan of cablé
   meaning: trendy, in

un brelica   verlan of un calibre
   meaning: revolver

une cecla   verlan of une classe
   meaning: class

céfran   verlan of français
   meaning: French

chanmé   verlan of méchant
   meaning: mean, nasty

chébran   verlan of branché
   meaning: cool, plugged in

chelou   verlan of louche
   meaning: shady, dubious

une cinepi   verlan of une piscine
   meaning: pool

une deban   verlan of une bande
   meaning: group, band

un skeud   verlan of un disque
   meaning: record, album

fais ièche   verlan of fais chier
   meaning: it's boring, annoying

un féca   verlan of un café
   meaning: café

être au fumpar   verlan of être au parfum
   meaning: to be in the know

une gnolba   verlan of une bagnole
   meaning: car, junker

geudin   verlan of dingue
   meaning: crazy

jourbon   verlan of bonjour
   meaning: hello

un kebla   verlan of un Black (from English)   
   meaning: black person

kéblo   verlan of bloqué
   meaning: blocked, caught

un keuf (now feuk)   verlan of un flic
   meaning: police officer (equivalent to cop, copper, pig)

un keum   verlan of un mec
   meaning: guy, dude

laisse béton   verlan of laisse tomber
   meaning: forget it, drop it

un lépou   verlan of un poulet
   meaning: police officer (equivalent to cop, copper, pig)

looc   verlan of cool (from English)
   meaning: cool

une meuf   verlan of une femme
   meaning: woman, wife

ouf   verlan of fou
   meaning: crazy

pécho   verlan of une choper
   meaning: to steal, nick; to get caught

une péclot   verlan of une clope
   meaning: cigarette

le pera   verlan of le rap
   meaning: rap (music)

un quèm   verlan of un mec
   meaning: guy

une raquebar   verlan of une baraque
   meaning: house

relou   verlan of lourd
   meaning: heavy

les rempa   verlan of les parents
   meaning: parents

un reuf   verlan of un frère
   meaning: brother

une reum   verlan of une mère
   meaning: mother

un reup   verlan of un père
   meaning: father

une reus   verlan of une sœur
   meaning: sister

ripou   verlan of pourri
   meaning: rotten, corrupt

la siquemu / la sicmu   verlan of la musique
   meaning: music

un sub   verlan of un bus
   meaning: bus

être dans le tarcol   verlan of être dans le coltar
   meaning: to be exhausted

une teibou   verlan of une bouteille
   meaning: bottle

une teuf   verlan of une fête
   meaning: party

tirape   verlan of partir
   meaning: to leave

tisor   verlan of sortir
   meaning: to go out

une tof   verlan of une photo
   meaning: photograph

la tourv   verlan of la voiture
   meaning: car

le tromé   verlan of le métro
   meaning: subway

zarbi   verlan of bizarre
   meaning: strange

un zarfal   verlan of un falzar
   meaning: pants, trousers

une zesgon   verlan of une gonzesse
   meaning: girl, chick

zyva   verlan of vas-y
   meaning: go