English speakers in Quebec turn their heads

10 Quebec French Phrases You Need To Know

Quebec French, or Québécois, is well spoken by more than six million people in Canada, most of whom are in la belle province live. Québécois' origins stem from the regional varieties (or dialects) of early modern France of the 17th and 18th centuries, but the language has taken on its own character that makes it unique. In turn, there are variations in accent and vocabulary in the province itself.

The development of Quebec French has been shaped by colonial history, First Nations influences, industrial change, and the occasional Anglicism, and is a dynamic feature of the region's cultural identity. To fully appreciate the wealth of Québécois you need to go beyond the basics of the textbook. Here are 10 expressions you should know while in town and interacting with your French-Canadian friends.

Mon Chum

Direct translation: My bud

In Quebec the word chum can refer to a friend or a friend, which can potentially confuse things. This word is also a clear example of the mixing of French and English in common slang terms, as words move between the two languages ​​and take on different meanings.

Quebec City | © Remi / Flickr

Ma blonde

Direct translation: My blonde

Likewise relates blonde in Canadian French does not affect your hair color. Instead, the word is used to To mean girlfriend.

Avoir mal aux cheveux


Have you ever awakened to a headache and rolling nausea in the aftermath of a wild night of drinking? This phrase perfectly describes that feeling. To times aux cheveux means you have a terrible hangover; basically it's so bad that even your hair hurts.

Night club | © Sax / Flickr

Virer une brosse / prendre un brooch

To turn / take a brush

That phrase is another one that refers to an alcoholic night, or more colloquially, shaken up or wasted. The verb variant depends on the region of Quebec you are currently in.

Bédaine de bière

Direct translation: beer belly

Following the topic of alcohol, one bédaine de bière have is a literal translation of the well-known English term "beer belly". Interestingly, this expression does not exist in France.

The beer culture in Quebec is strong © Raymond Johnston / Flickr

Être en musus

Direct translation: To be angry

Québec has many slang expressions - not to mention swear words - that come from the province's French Catholic heritage. A variant (although far-fetched) of maudit , mus (or mouse) means cursed and implies that someone is having a bad day or is angry.

Avoir du front tout le tour de la tete

Direct translation: To have a forehead around your head

Having your forehead around your head is a Québécois expression that means that you are naughty or outrageous. This term is usually used to describe someone who goes too far in insolence, who demands too much, and who has attitudes that are inconsistent with culturally appropriate humility.

J'ai la langue à terre

Direct translation: I have my tongue on the floor

In Quebec, if you have your tongue on the floor, it means you are either very tired or very hungry.

On se calme le pompom!

Calm down the pom-pom!

This term refers to the wool pompon that adorns the end of a tuque (or winter hat) and is reminiscent of an overly excited child jumping around uncontrollably in the snow. When you put two and two together, this delightful phrase is used in times of excitement or panic to "calm down" or "relax".

Skiing on Mont-Tremblant, Quebec | © Shelby Bell / Flickr

Être vite sur ses patins

Direct translation: be faster on the skates

Another expression that goes back to the region's stiff winter weather, to be quick on skates is a big compliment. It means that you are a quick thinker, agile, and intelligent.

Skating in Montreal | © Pikawil / Flickr

Thanks to Isabel Harvey for her linguistic advice and recommendations.

Author: Stewart Bradley

Stewart Bradley is a 38 year old journalist. Pop culture advocate. Analyst. Passionate travel evangelist. Communicator. Twitter specialist. Zombie enthusiast.