The noun: une boum. The textboook translation: a party. The real life French person translation: a shindig.
Also known as outdated slang that no French person would be caught dead saying.
During my middle school French classes, my friends and I laughed at the pictures of kids acting out the vocabulary. They wore hammer pants, baggy t-shirts tucked into stiff jeans, and beehives of hair. Though our textbooks were published in 2006, they were clearly written in 1986, and had never been updated.
Less comedic was the realization that the vocabulary I’d worked hard to memorize was equally outdated. Nine years later, living in Europe, my antiquated slang was laughable.
Learn from my mistakes. Shut your textbook and break the habit now, before you’re uninvited from the soirée for saying boum.
UNE BOUM – a party
Your grandma says, “You should come to the Ladies Luncheon at the country club sometime. There’s music and tea sandwiches—it’s a real boum!”
You say, “I’ll only come to your soirée if you don’t play ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia. I’m sick of that poor excuse for a song.”
COMME CI, COMME ÇA – so-so
Your grandma says, “Judy better not be responsible for bringing appetizers to our knitting circle, her cooking is comme ci comme ca.”
You say, “I saw the new Fast and Furious movie. Honestly, they should stop making those movies, they’re all bof.”
FERME TA BOUCHE – close your mouth / shut up
Your grandma says, “Don’t interrupt me with your anti-Keystone Pipeline nonsense, there are elders speaking! Ferme ta bouche.”
You say, “Ta gueule! Stop saying that I was the one who ate Taylor’s Chipotle. It wasn’t me, it was you!” (Slightly vulgar)
QUOI DE NEUF – what’s up? / how’s it going?
Your grandma says, “The first time your grandfather and I met, we were at a Yale secret society party and he said, ‘quoi de neuf?’ He was really cool back then.”
You say, “Dan, it’s so good to see you! I haven’t seen you since Coachella! Ça va?”
LA RAFFINERIE – Le Centre Pompidou
Your grandma says, “Of course I’ve never been to la raffinerie. It’s a disgrace to our classic Parisian architecture and should be demolished.”
You say, “Want to meet for lunch on Friday? I know a great falafel place by beaubourg.”
TU ME CASSES LES PIEDS – you’re so frustrating / you’re pissing me off
Your grandma says, “Really, Thomas, you’re wearing jeans to church again? Tu me casses les pieds.”
You say, “Stop reading Breibart! Hillary Clinton does not have Parkinson’s. Tu me fais chier.” (Slightly vulgar)
ON EST DANS LA PURÉE! – We’re in trouble
Your grandma says, “Richard, we left the map on the subway! Now we’ll never get to the opera on time… on est dans la purée!”
You say, “Dude, the only copies of our Adele concert tickets are electronic, and my iPhone just died. On est dans la merde.” (Slightly vulgar)
SENSASS – excellent
Your grandma says, “The PBS documentary on the history of the q-tip was sensass.”
You say, “Have you heard ‘Life of Pablo’? It was top.”
C’EST L’HEURE DE LEVER LE SIEGE – it’s time to leave / let’s go
Your grandma says, “For the last 104 years my district has had a republican representative, and this year we elect a democrat? C’est l’heure de lever le siège!”
You say, “Rachel, I’ll venmo you for dinner when I get home. What does the check say? $10? Cool. On se casse?”
JE SUIS TOUT(E) RAPLAPLA – I’m exhausted
Your grandma says, “Gee wilikers, that Lester Holt reports the Nightly News so well. I’m headed to bed, je suis toute raplapla.”
You say, “I pulled an all-nighter last night trying to finish that presentation for work. The presentation is ready, but je suis crevé(e).”
BONUS PHRASE: VOULEZ VOUS COUCHER AVEC MOI CE SOIR – do you want to have sex with me tonight
Your grandma says—nope never mind, we don’t want to think about it.
You say, “Hey—” nope, we’re not updating this. Improve your own pick-up game, you’re dans la merde by yourself.