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Vulgar French Expression
|Meaning||damn it, break a leg|
Usage notes: The French slang word merde has more meanings than meet the eye. Literally, it refers to sh** (feces), and is used like its equally vulgar English counterpart. It can also be used like an adjective.
|C’est une voiture de merde.||It’s a sh***y car.|
|Quel film de merde !||What a sh***y movie!|
As a noun, la merde can also be a vulgar way to refer to something troublesome.
|J’ai perdu mon portefeuille, quelle merde !||I lost my wallet, what a pain in the ass.|
|On est dans la merde.||We’re up sh** creek.|
As an exclamation, merde is less vulgar – it’s more equivalent to "damn it" or "bloody hell."
|Ça suffit, merde !||That’s enough, damn it!|
|On m’a volé le vélo, merde !||Bloody hell, someone stole my bike!|
Where merde gets really interesting is in the expression je te dis merde. It can be an insult, along the lines of "go to hell," but it’s also be a familiar way to wish someone luck when you don’t want to jinx them by saying bon courage – just like "break a leg" in English. You can also just say merde. Here’s Marion Cotillard explaining why to Stephen Colbert (followed by both of them demonstrating how much more intriguing even mundane things sound in French. 🙂 )