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French word of the Day: Wesh

French word of the day: Wesh
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Not one for use during tea with your French in-laws or an email to the préfecture, nevertheless this is increasingly common to hear on the streets.

Why do I need to know the word Wesh

This quintessential piece of slang entered into common usage through French hip hop culture in the 1990s and has a huge variety of uses. 

What does it mean? 

Wesh, pronounced as it is read, is commonly used as an interjection. It can be loosely translated as ‘Yo!’ or ‘Wow!’. 

It can also be used as an adjective to describe someone or something as a bit of a ‘bad boy’ (in the street sense of the word) or ‘cool’. 

READ ALSO French slang: The everyday words they don’t teach you at school

It’s one of many French words to enter the language through Arabic, this stems from Algerian Arabic, where ‘wesh rak?’ means ‘how are you?’ 

Wesh was popularised in France through hip hop culture and remains popular today – among contemporary rappers like Jul and teenagers. 

Wesh entered the Petit Robert dictionary in 2009 and is worth an impressive 18 points if you use it in Scrabble. 

Use it like this

Wesh gros! C’est comment? – Yo my G! What’s crackin’? 

Wesh bien? – Yo? What’s up? 

Tranquille wesh! – All good!

Wesh! T’as vu ce clip? – Yo! Have you seen this music video? 

C’est un wesh-wesh – He/she is a bad boy

You can basically throw wesh in at the start or end of any sentence to add emphasis.  

Other ways to write wesh

In written communications, wesh can also be spelled: wechoueshouech or abbreviated as wsh

Be careful though, this is very much a slang term and should probably be avoided in work emails and correspondence with your local préfecture. We don’t want to appear ageist, but over 40s might want to give this one a miss too.


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