Since the 1600s, Quebec French, or Québécois, has evolved its own unique features which set it apart from le français standard. The most obvious differences are in accent and vocabulary, but French speakers in Canada have also developed their own unique expressions and idioms. Here are a few French phrases you won’t hear outside Québéc: use them to prepare students for an upcoming visit to Canada or to help demonstrate the linguistic diversity of French! If you find this useful, be sure to download our worksheet of 25 Québécois terms.
1. Lâche pas la patate!
Don’t let go of the potato!
This can be translated to, “Don’t give up!” Also common in Cajun French, this phrase is a vivid way to give someone a few words of encouragement.
2. Se laisser manger la laine sur le dos
To let someone eat the wool off your back
To behave in a stupid way, or to allow someone else to swindle you.
3. C’est tiguidou
An upbeat and truly Québécois response to the question, « ça va? »
4. Tire-toi une bû
Take a log.
An invitation to take a seat.
5. Avoir du front tout le tour de la tête
To have a forehead all around your head
A perfect description for someone who “has a lot of nerve” or is arrogant.
6. Faire le boss de bécosses
To act the boss of the toilets
A term for anyone who acts with an unjustified level of authority and mistakenly believes they are in charge.
7. Être vite sur ses patins
To be swift on your skates
A compliment for anyone who is witty or intelligent.
Interested in passing along some more mots Québécois to your French students?
Download our handout for 25 French words you’ll only hear in Quebec, with English definitions and their closest French synonyms!