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Five slang words we miss


Do you know what a "bernique" or a "pignouf" is? Le Figaro returns to these old-fashioned slang words.

The slang characteristic of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is lost.

So it is with the colorful nuances of the popular language of poulbots, a Gavroche or a Claudine.

Do we remember it?

There were dozens of ways to swear or express annoyance while skirting around direct insult or blasphemous curse.

The editorial staff has selected for you a small collection of these


and obsolete


which will take you on a journey through the ages.

Rififi guaranteed!

• Macache

In 1944, in her novel


Colette made her character exclaim:

“As for the mille-feuilles, macache!

It's frozen sponge cake! ”

This expression, common in the middle of the 19th century and until the first part of the 20th century, comes from the Arabic ma-kanch, which means

"there is not"


Brought back to France after the conquest of Algeria by French soldiers, it takes on the meaning of

"it's nothing"


"not at all"

or even


depending on the proposals in which it is used.

According to the Trésor de la langue française, this word can also be used in the expression

"macach bono"

to signify disgust or refusal.

• Bernique







, it has in common with these animals only the smell.

Indeed, the word


comes from the Norman words




which mean, in colloquial language,


, as the Treasury of the French language underlines it.

Thus the




is she real rudeness, a bad word that doesn't sound like it.

Something to swear discreetly during your next arguments, like Father Ubu in



Ubu Roi



Get by, my friend;

for the moment, we are doing our Pater Noster. ”

• Pignouf






could be his other names.

It lacks manners, finesse, timeliness, in short, distinction.

In a nutshell, this rude character is the reverse of a gentleman.

It would come from the verb


which means

"to moan"


"to cry"

, teaches us the Treasure of the French language.

It is undoubtedly Romain Gary who gives the best appreciation of it in his novel



"It must be said that money, with its down to earth side, pignouf and big hooves, firmly confined you in the two-and-two. -four ”


Therefore, vary from


and say

"pignouf" ...

• Rastaquouère

"How dare you talk to me about love, you, eh, you who never knew Lola Rastaquouère?"

Sung by Gainsbourg, it evokes the



of reggae singers of the 1970s and Jamaica. But the word


is much older than Bob Marley. This expression appears in the French popular language in the 19th century and designates, according to the French Academy, an

“exotic character who displays a suspicious luxury and in bad taste”

. It comes to us from the Hispanic


which, originally, literally means

"scraper of skins"

, that is to say



By extension, it designates a South American man who made a fortune (perhaps thanks to the leather trade) and who flaunts his wealth, as there were many in the late nineteenth century in Paris.

• Patafiolate

There again, it is through the song that this strange verb passed to posterity.

Thus Pierre Perret, in his childish

Tonton Cristobal


"My children, may the Virgin plague us, rather than one day seeing her vial again"



is therefore to curse, or to bless, in an ironic sense.

This word certainly comes, according to the Treasury of the French language, from the prefix


which refers to the movement of the hand, and from the word


which evokes the drink, perhaps even the wine of mass, which explains the meaning of


as a


“gesture of blessing”


Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-12-03

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