Quebec is renowned for its colourful expressions. If you’re learning French or just want to know a little more about what makes another culture tick, here are a few fun expressions, their literal translations and their meanings.

  1. Niaiser avec la puck. Yes, it says “puck” as in the black disk used in hockey. Translated word for word, the slang expression means “messing around with the puck,” but in reality it’s another way to say “wasting time” or “fooling around.”
  2. Avoir la chienne. This one has absolutely nothing to do with a female dog. It’s just means being scared.
  3. Être quétaine. Apparently the origin of this adjective meaning “tacky” goes back to the 40s and comes from the word “quêter” or to beg. The less fortunate would be given second-hand clothing, but would not always match them properly, leaving them looking “quétaine.”
  4. Avoir de l’eau dans la cave. Here’s another fashion-related saying, which means “to have water in the basement.” You use it when you want to tease someone wearing pants that are a little too short.
  5. Le boss des bécosses. If someone ever says this to you, don’t take it as a compliment. It means being authoritarian. The translation – boss of the outhouse – is not exactly flattering.
  6. Tire-toi une bûche. Of course, not all sayings are negative in tone. This one is the English equivalent of “please take a seat,” but usually on a chair, not a log (bûche).

So next time you want to impress your Québécois friends, try out one of these fun little expressions for a good laugh!