Learn 2 opposite translations of merde: what it means when somebody is scolding you and what it means when you are in need of extra luck.
Once my students get to know me better and since we stress of having fun when learning French in class, from time to time a brave student will ask to teach them some French swear words… So I do, and on the day of the exam most students will not greet you with the typical "bonjour" (goodday) but with the expression "Je te dis merde", which literary means: I you say shit. However the real meaning is to wish everybody good luck, without jinxing the luck by using the swear word "merde":
Merde: French-English translation and use
Literary "merde" means: the brown stuff each French person deposits in their French toilet each day… However, mostly it is used as a mild curse that you could hear in every day occasions.
The French language uses merde when:
- -> like in the picture: Merde! : the Microsoft stock dropped 100 $…
- -> like you ran fast to catch the bus but… Merde! I just missed it
- -> like you forget the appointment with your boss… Merde!
So the French word "merde" is more or less the equivalent of the English "Oh Shit" and "Shoot".
Merde for good luck
Apart from swearing that you will pick up easily, there is another way of using "merde", mostly in the sentence "je te dis merde", which best translates with the English phrase: "break a leg". Meaning, you are wishing a person good luck, but you say it in the most opposite way possible not to put a bad spell on the person.
Most famous Merde in the history of France
In some French history books you can read that one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s French generals in the end of their loosing battle at Waterloo was asked to surrender. The general responded by taking his sable and run into the enemy shouting: Merde!
Talking about Waterloo: if you happen to learn French in Brussels, you will only be a few miles away from the famous historical Waterloo battle fields, where Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815. After the French were defeated lots of the canons that were used in this battle were melted and used to construct the metal lion in the picture as a memorial to the French defeat. The lion of Waterloo is situated on the hill that overseas the whole battlefield of Napoleon.
Anyway, now you know what merde means, try by all means not to use it 🙂