For members


French expression of the day: Je me casse

Want to do a chilled-out French exit? Here's the phrase you will need.

French expression of the day: Je me casse
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know je me casse?

French people say this all the time. Especially young people. But if you’re not familiar with the expression, you might think they are announcing that they ‘are breaking’, which is not at all what they mean.

Also if you’re a Eurovision fan you will need to know this for the 2021 song contest.

What does it mean?

Although the expression je me casse includes the verb casser (‘to break’), it actually signifies making an exit. It also implies that the exit made is pretty swift, in the sense that the person is ‘getting out of here’ rather than ‘leaving’.

Imagine that you’re in school, suffering through a horrendously boring lecture. Well, if you’re the cool French kid in class, you might say je me casse – ‘I’m out of here’ – and head for the door.

Or, say you’re at a party that you aren’t really feeling the vibe of anymore and you want to head off, you could look at your French friend and say on se casse? – let’s get out of here?

The phrase is also the title of Malta’s Eurovision entry this year (no, we don’t know why the title is in French, the rest of the song is in English).


You may also use casser as an interjection, in which case the meaning of se casser (‘get out’) becomes much less relaxed.

For example, if you’re arguing with your French boyfriend and you want him to get the f*** out of your apartment, you could dramatically scream:

Casse-toi ! – Get out!


A less colloquial way of announcing your exit is je m’en vais (I’m leaving) or alternatively on s’en va (we’re leaving).

Another one, which lies closer to je me casse on the informality scale, is je me barre, or on se barre.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: De bonne heure

Surprisingly, this French phrase does not mean ‘on time’.

French Expression of the Day:  De bonne heure

Why do I need to know de bonne heure?

Because someone might tell you to arrive at this time, and you’ll want to know what they mean.

What does it mean?

De bonne heure – usually pronounced “duh bohn urr” – literally translates to “the good hour,” which you might think would mean “to be on time.” However, in practice, the phrase actually means to be early or to be in advance. The most common French synonym of this phrase would simply be “tôt” which means early.

It can also be used to describe something that happens early in the morning or early in the day more generally. 

Interestingly enough, when the phrase started being used in the 14th century, it did mean to be on time, but its meaning shifted over time, the reason for which remains unclear. 

Up for a pun? Say this phrase three times fast to feel happy (if you didn’t get the joke, it’s because bonne heure sounds like bonheur, French for happiness).

Use it like this

Nous avons commencé la réunion de bonne heure, vers 7h30, avant l’ouverture des marchés boursiers. – We started the meeting early, around 7:30am, before the markets opened.

Je n’avais même pas encore commencé à cuisiner quand il est arrivé de bonne heure. Je n’étais pas préparée à le recevoir. – I hadn’t even started cooking when he arrived early. I wasn’t ready to have him over.