For members


French Word of the Day: Choper

From illness to stealing to trying out your best pick-up lines, this is a very versatile French verb.

French Word of the Day: Choper
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know choper?

Because there’s a pandemic, but even when (if?) it’s over, illness will always be with us. 

What does it mean?

Choper, pronounced “shop-eh”, is a slang verb that means “to catch”, typically in relation to an illness. It’s informal so you won’t hear it in government health briefings, but it’s not offensive. 

It is thought to come from the Old French, chopper, which meant “to stumble/to fall”. 

While choper is most commonly used to talk about illness, it can also be used to talk about stealing, getting arrested or seducing someone. 

On m’a chopé mon vélo – They stole my bike 

Il s’est fait choper par les flics en sortant de chez lui – He was arrested by the police when he left his house

Tous les samedis soir, vous sortez en boite pour essayer de choper des meufs – Every Saturday night, you go to the nightclub to try and chat up women 

While choper can be used in multiple contexts, the verb conveys a general sense of “taking”: your health; your possession; your freedom; or perhaps in the last example, your phone number. 

The verlan of choper is pécho. When used in the verlan form, this word is generally only applied in the romantic sense. 

By and large, if you are the one to choper, you are the one taking. If you have been chopé, you are having something taken from you. 

Use it like this

As previously mentioned, this verb is mostly used to talk about getting ill. 

J’ai chopé le covid – I have caught covid

Peut-on chopé le covid deux fois? – Can you catch Covid twice? 

Afin de ne pas choper le covid, il faut respecter les gestes barrières – To avoid catching Covid, you must respect barrier gestures 


Attraper une maladie – To catch an illness 

Être covidé – To have Covid 

Être infecté – To be infected

Être contaminé – To be contaminated

Être empoisonner – To be poisoned 

Être intoxiqué – To be poisoned 

Member comments

  1. “The verlan of choper is pécho.” As if French weren’t difficult enough to learn, the kids had to add verlan mdr

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For members


French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Here's a newish addition to French - aka the language of love.

French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Why do I need to know s’autokiffer?

Because French is the language of love, so you should know how to extend that to yourself too.

What does it mean?

S’autokiffer – usually pronounced sought-oh-keef-ay – means to love yourself.

The phrase, a colloquial way to reference self-love, combines the prefix auto (self) with the verb Kiffer, which originally comes from Arabic and is used in French slang to mean “like,” “love” or “very into.” When put together, it becomes the perfect way to say “self-love” in French, but sometimes it can be a bit derogatory if you are referring to someone else in this way.

The French like to put auto in front of words. Some others you might hear are autodérision (to make fun of yourself) and autocongratuler (to congratulate yourself/ pat yourself on the back) or, during the pandemic, autotest for a home test kit for Covid.

The phrase can be used as a verb (ex. je m’autokiffe), or as an adjective (ex. Il est autokiffe) to describe someone who really loves themself – maybe a bit too much.

It can be either positive to talk about someone who is comfortable with themselves or negative when talking about someone who loves themselves more than is reasonable ie they’re arrogant and full of themselves.

This is not something you’ll hear in a formal setting, and you might see some creative ways of conjugating it, as it is primarily a slang phrase. But, if the self-love trend has made its way to France, it is safe to say this word might be around for a while. 

Use it like this

Toutes les photos sur son portable sont de lui-même, il est un peu un autokiffe. – All of his pictures on his phone are of himself, he’s a bit full of himself.

Il est hyper important de s’autokiffer. Les gens disent que si tu ne peux pas s’autokiffer, comment tu peux kiffer quelqu’un d’autre ? – It is super important to love yourself. People say if you cannot love yourself, how can you love another person?


Bien dans sa peau – literally translating as ‘good in one’s skin’ this means a person who is comfortable with themselves and accepts themselves as they are.

Avoir le melon – meaning ‘to have the melon’ this means someone who is big-headed, full of themselves or arrogant

READ ALSO 21 essential fruit and vegeatble expressions