Slt Tlm!: The Essential Guide to French Internet and Texting Slang

Cc c Alysa, sa va?

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand this message. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s not in standard French, but a sub-language: French internet and text messaging slang.

Love it or hate it, this particular slang is pretty common online or if you’re communicating with a French person by text message. That means it’s a good idea to be familiar with how it works, as well as the most common words and abbreviations you’ll come across.

So, whether your goal is to text like a pro, or just be able to understand what your French pen pal wrote on Facebook, let’s check out the world of French internet and texting slang.

What you need to know about French internet and text message slang

Before we look at some actual examples of French internet and texting slang, let’s talk about how they work.

Although there might be a few terms that are used exclusively in text messages or online, in general, the slang used in both worlds overlaps. This is because, as in English, a lot of internet and text message slang involves shortening words so that you can get your message across quickly, clearly, and with as little typing as possible to save time.

And speaking of English….

You can divide French internet and text message slang into two main groups:

  1. French internet and texting slang that comes from French
  2. French internet and texting slang that comes from English

Both are commonly used, especially online. But in text messages, since you’re dealing more with oral language and the local, not global population, the slang tends to stay more on the French side, although there are some exceptions, like the abbreviation LOL.

Why is some French internet and text message slang in English?

The internet is a global phenomenon, and the language used most often online is English. An estimated 25.2% of all online content is in English, including 59% of the top 10 million websites. Compare that to 2.8% of content that’s exclusively in French.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to speak English to use the internet, but it does mean that you’ll come across a lot of people from different countries who have become familiar with at least basic English terms, simply because they’re exposed to them a lot — not to mention English-language TV shows and movies, song lyrics, and other pop culture.

As if that wasn’t enough, injecting English words and phrases into your (informal) vocabulary is currently à la mode in France. You can see this very easily if you turn on the Netflix reality series “The Circle: France”. Although everyone on the show is a native French speaker, they constantly communicate to each other (via a fake online platform) with English phrases and hashtags.

Generally speaking, English-based French internet and text message slang tends to incorporate common internet abbreviations like LOL and WTF, but you will also see common and even very trendy words used in their entirety from time to time.

To me, the intro to “Le zap de Spi0n” (zap is short for zapping, a collection of funny or unusual videos) is an excellent representation of French internet slang. We see French terms (often informal, shortened versions of them, like Actu for actualité (news)), standard English words like “cute”, and English internet slang like “WTF”.

That being said, not all French people are bilingual, so beyond something extremely common like “cool” or “LOL”, they may not know what you’re talking about. It’s usually best to choose French phrases and words, unless you’ve seen your friends or people on forums, etc., where you’re communicating, using English ones. 

Also keep in mind that if you’re talking to someone from an older generation, they aren’t going to know as much internet and texting slang in general, but especially not English-language terms, since they didn’t grow up with the current global culture, and learning English in school wasn’t as common as it is today.

Patterns you can use to easily understand French internet and texting slang

When it comes to French internet and text message slang that’s in French, it’s pretty easy to understand if you take the time to learn a few patterns.

Here are the five main characteristics of French internet and text message slang:

  • Words should be as short and easy to type as possible. This means you delete all accents unless they are absolutely necessary.
  • Sounds can be replaced by a letter or number that sounds the same. You replace “un”, “ain” or “ien” by “1” (un) like in bien (b1). Similarly “c” replaces “c’est”, “sait” and “s’est”.
  • Words are written with only a few letters. This one is a bit trickier, since it’s sort of instinctive. For instance, bonjour  becomes bjr. These are the main consonants in the word, but what about the “n”? You can generally get a sense of which letters are kept and which aren’t, by observing how French people shorten words online and in text messages.
  • The preference is given to letters that are easier to type on a French keyboard. That’s why “twa” replaces “toi” for example.
  • Silent letters like final “e” or “h” at the beginning of words are deleted (for example, “contre” becomes “contr”).

One other thing to keep in mind about French online and texting slang

Now that we’ve got the rules and background information down, let’s look at some examples of French internet and text message slang.

Keep in mind that, as with any list of slang terms, not all of these may be currently used by the time you read them. But generally speaking, these terms are pretty common and you’re likely to encounter them if you’re communicating with a young or even middle-aged French person online or via text message.

Although it’s a good idea to be at least passingly familiar with all of these, the terms in bold type are the ones that you’ll probably see used the most often by French people of nearly every generation, with the exception of (most) very elderly people.

French internet and texting slang for greetings

  • slt: salut (hi)
  • lut, lu: less common slang for salut (hi)
  • cc: coucou (hi)

Note that coucou is a cutesy greeting used when talking to children, between women friends, or from a woman to a man she’s very friendly with, like a brother or childhood friend, and possibly with family. You can learn more about this greeting, as well as the others on this list, here.

  • bjr: common slang for bonjour (hello)
  • bsr: bonsoir (good evening)
  • biz: bisous (kiss)

This is a common, very informal sign-off used with close friends, your significant other, and possibly family members. It’s the rough equivalent of XOXO in English. You can learn more about how to use bisous, bise, and other French kissing-/greeting  -related words here.

sa va: An alternate version of ça va, this phrasecan be used as a question: “sa va ?” (how are you?) or as an answer “sa va” (I am good, it’s okay”).

You may be wondering why this term is used, when it takes just as many letters to type out good old ça va. The reason is that it’s easier to type a regular “s” than a ç…although nowadays with autocorrect, that’s not always the case.

  • b1: bien (good)
  • é twa: et toi (and you)
  • a +: à plus tard (see you later)
  • @+: another way to say à +
  • a tt: à toute à l’heure (see you soon/see you in a few hours)

Polite French internet and texting slang

Even when you use internet or texting slang, it’s important to be polite in French. These little words can go a long way. You can sometimes find them in professional communications like interoffice emails or replies from online vendors or customer service messages, too.

  • stp: s’il te plaît (informal ‘please’)
  • svp: s’il vous plaît (formal ‘please’)
  • dsl: désolé(e) (sorry)
  • cdlt: Cordialement (Warmly/Sincerely/Cordially).

Cordialement is a fairly formal way to end a letter or email, but you’ll still find it abbreviated in some online communication. For instance, if a neighbor I don’t know well is texts me about official business related to our building, and wants to end the message in a way that shows courtesy and respect, but also friendliness, he or she might use cdlt at the end. You can also see it in work emails where a colleague wants to be polite but doesn’t have to be extremely formal. It might also appear in responses you get to inquiries sent to online vendors.

French internet and texting slang verbs and pronouns

  • c: c’est (it is)
  • g: j’ai (I have)
  • ss, chuis: suis (am)
  • T: t’es (you are)
  • fo: faut (we must) OR faux (wrong)
  • ya: il y a (there is, there are)
  • ki: qui (who)
  • koi, kwa: quoi (what)
  • keske: qu’est-ce que (what)

Other common French internet and text message slang terms

ouf: fou (crazy – in a good or bad way). This word is verlan, a form of French slang where a word’s syllables are reversed. You can learn more about verlan here.

H24: 24 hours a day

pb: problème

id: idée (idea)

nrv: énervé (angry)

c cho: c’est chaud. This phrase literally means “It’s hot”. You use it to say something is difficult or you find something shocking.

cpg : C’est pas grave. An informal way to say Ce n’est pas grave (‘No worries’).

auj: aujourd’hui (today)

bcp: beaucoup (a lot).

cad or càd: c’est-à-dire (that is to say). This is a more official abbreviation that can often be used in a more formal context.

d’ac: d’accord (OK/all right)

ok: same as in English

lol: laughing out loud. Same as in English.

Interestingly, if a French person says this out loud for some reason, they don’t pronounce it letter-by-letter as English speakers do; instead, they say it as a word, which sounds like the English word “loll”. You’ll hear this used in French conversations from time to time, often in a sarcastic way.

mdr: mort de rire (dying laughing). This is the official French equivalent of lol.

While many French equivalents aren’t used as much as their “cooler” English slang counterparts, that’s not the case with mdr. I often see it used interchangeably with lol. On the other hand, I’ve never heard a French person say it out loud the way they might say lol. But either one of these abbreviations is perfectly cool and good to use when communicating with a French person online or via text message.

ptdr: pété de rire (literally “exploding with laughter”). This is a rough equivalent of LMFAO or ROFL in English.

I don’t see this used nearly as much as lolor mdr, and that makes sense to me, since the French don’t tend to exaggerate emotions as much as we Anglophones do.

gg: good game. This is mostly used by gamers.

com dab: comme d’habitude (as usual)

jtm: je t’aime (I love you).

This is an essential slang term for all French teenagers. But if you’re older and really want to sincerely declare your love to someone, it’s best to actually spell it out.

jms: jamais (never)

msg: message

texto: text message.

Text messages in France are informally and commonly referred to as either un texto or un sms.

sms : text message.

This word actually comes from the English acronym “Short Message System”. Some Anglphone countries use “sms” as a way to say “text message”, as well.

qqn: quelqu’un (someone)

ras: rien à signaler (all’s well)

rdv: rendez-vous (meeting).

Contrary to English, in French rendez-vous doesn’t necessarily have a romantic or sexual context. It just means “meeting”, “meet-up”, or “appointment”. You can have a rendez-vous with a doctor or a friend, for example.

re: de retour (back).

This is what you write to notify someone that you are back in the conversation after leaving it for a while.

snif: I’m sad. This English-inspired onomatopoeia indicates sad sniffling.

nn: non (no)

tlm: tout le monde (everyone)

tjs: toujours (always)

tt: tout (all, everything)

c tt: c’est tout (that’s all)

vrt: vraiment (really)

tg: ta gueule (shut up). This is a very vulgar way to say “Shut up” and can even sometimes be downright aggressively rude, although it could be meant in a joking way among friends. So use it carefully.

vdm: vie de merde. This is the French equivalent of the English abbreviation FML (Fuck my Life).

Although it’s not as popular or trendy today, this phrase gave its name to a website where people post stories about bad (but funny) things that have happened to them.  You may occasionally see it as a hashtag on social media, as well.

You can find more French internet and text message slang here.

Again, any list of slang may have some outdated words, or even words that were never really used by the “cool” people, so if you want to use these terms, it’s a good idea to see if you spot them on French forums, message boards, and websites, as well as in messages from friends, etc.

Common English internet slang that’s also used in French

Now that we’ve covered the common French internet and texting terms you’re likely to come across, let’s talk a bit about the ones in English.

Again, remember that not all French people speak or are familiar with English, especially older generations. So, as a general rule, with the exception of super-famous crossover words like LOL and WTF, it’s more common to find English-inspired slang online, rather than in text messages.

You may hear some of these words spoken aloud among younger generations, but keep in mind that they’ll be pronounced with a French accent – or in some cases, like LOL and ASAP, differently than Anglophones would say them.

The following are some of the most common English-language internet slang that’s also used in French:

As with the lists of French internet and texting slang words, the ones that most French people, young or (fairly) old, are at least somewhat familair with, are in bold type.

  • fake
  • geek – As in current Anglophone pop culture, “geek” is a proud term, not an insult.
  • hacker – In French, “hacker” is primiarily used as a noun, but you’ll sometimes see it as a regular -er verb as well.
  • lol – LOL is THE crossover internet and texting slang word, one that most young and young-ish French people recognize. Remember that if a French person says it out loud for some reason, they don’t pronounce it letter-by-letter as English speakers do; instead, they say it as a word, which sounds like the English word “loll”. You’ll hear this used in French conversations from time to time, often in a sarcastic way.
  • troll
  • asap – This phrase has transcended the internet and text messages; you’ll also hear it used in many French businesses. When a French person says it, instead of pronouncing each letter, they pronounce it like a single word.
  • FAQ – FAQ can mean “Frequently Asked Questions” OR its French equivalent, <<Foire aux questions>>. Defenders of the French language have found a clever way to win the battle against English dominance with this one!  Like a few other terms in this article, FAQ  is a term that’s can be used in professional settings, including on many French companies’ and museums’ websites.
  • WTF – French people are utterly delighted by this phrase. If they say it aloud, they normally articulate each abbreviated word: “What the fuck?” Like some of the other slang terms on this list, when WTF (or, rather, “What the fuck?”) is used in spoken language, it’s usually at least half ironic.
  • French cable channel Canal+’s show Pépites sur le Net (“Internet Gems”) even uses a sort of musical remix version of it as a theme song.
  • OMG – French people may use this online to blend in, but if they say “Oh my God” aloud, they are most definitely mimicking, mocking, or teasing Anglophones. The same way Anglophones stereotype the French as saying things like Mon dieu (‘Oh my God’s’ French equivalent) or Sacré bleu (a very old obscenity that no one says anymore), French people consider “Oh my God” to be a cliché, typical thing Anglophones say. Its prevalence in internet culture doesn’t exactly prove them wrong….
  • fail – This refers specifically to online videos and other records of mistakes or gaffes, and is a noun, not a verb, in French.
  • YOLO – Although this term (an acronym for “You Only Live Once”) has gone a bit out of style in Anglophone and French culture alike, its presence on many French lists of English internet slang shows just how easily the French borrow even the newest slang online. 

The more a French person is into internet culture, the more likely they are to be familiar with even more slang, or simply to use and know regular English words well.

Should I use French internet and text message slang?

You may be tempted to give some of these French internet and text massage slang terms a try, and why not?

Of course, keep in mind who’s reading you.

If you’re on a website where you see lots of people using slang and abbreviations in comments, or if you’re texting with someone who uses them, why not give it a try?  But if you’re in a formal or professional situation, or texting with an elderly person, it’s probably best to skip it…unless that person suddenly surprises you with a slang term! 

Even in that case, be careful; as we’ve seen, there are a few terms that are extremely well-known or even acceptable in a professional setting, while others can even be vulgar. Don’t decide to throw “VDM” into a conversation with a person who’s only texted you “asap”.

What if you don’t want to use French internet and texting slang?  Well, as with any slang, the good news is that you don’t have to use it at all. It’s just good to be familiar with it, since you’ll probably come across at least a few of these terms at some point, whether in a text message from a French friend or colleague, a brief online message exchange, or while reading threads and comments sections of French websites, to give just a few examples.

How do you feel about French internet and texting slang? Is there a particular term that you really like? Is there a word or abbreviation you think should be on our lists?  Let us know in the comments!

a + tlm!

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Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.