Here, we really like big sedans and very, very expensive watches, so inevitably, we have to master the appropriate vocabulary to talk about money. There are old expressions, teenage words and terms from everyday life, but even if you know them, you may not know where they come from.
1. Moula or moulaga
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It was Akhenaten who introduced the French to the term moula in his song I have no face in 1995 but nobody really picks up the expression at that time. Originally thought to come from American slang ‘moolaah’ or Spanish ‘mule’ which means ‘mule’ (one who carries drugs and money, you got it). Today, the word has become more popular thanks to several French rappers, including the great Heuss L’enfoiré, who uses it around 73 times per song.
Use in a quality work: “It’s either you come, or you cut yourself off, we’re not going to speak Thai. There are Shegueys, d’la moula” (Do not come backGradur and Heuss The bastard)
A little anecdote: when I was a child, I thought the song was “Le fric, c’est chic”. Tell me if you do too.
Otherwise, the use of the word money dates back to the 19th century. It is possible that it was originally the diminutive of fricoter in the sense of “being in shady business”.
3. The blur
The word flouze has several possible origins; it would come either from an Arabic word that could be transcribed by “flws” (in the Latin alphabet) and which designates a currency but it can also come from the Latin “follis” which was a Roman bronze coin.
The etymology of the word thune comes from the “king of Thunes”, the nickname of the leader of the beggars and brigands of the Court of Miracles in Paris. In the 17th century, the word thune meant “alms” because that was the value of a coin given to a beggar. From the 19th century (the century, not the Parisian district), the coin became synonymous with a 5 franc coin and this word kept this meaning in Switzerland where the franc is the national currency.
Use in a quality work: “Everyone just wants money, and that alone makes them horny” (The moneyAngela)
5. The zeyo
Zeyo is the verlan of sorrel. We do not really know when it dates but we are sure that La Fouine uses it in his songs, which is a sign of the great importance of a popular expression.
Use in a quality work: “Morning and evening we are looking for the zeyo” (ZeyoThe Weasel)
6. The nuggets
It was long believed that pépettes was a derivative of nugget but the most probable etymology of this expression is quite different. In the south of France, pépettes was a synonym for ricochets made with flat pebbles. These pebbles would have been likened to coins and the word pépettes thus became synonymous with coins.
7. The coiled ones
Lové is a gypsy word which would originally be a derivative of the old Indian “lohà” which designates a metal such as copper or gold. Often, we use the word coiled to say that we have no more money.
Use in a quality work: “I wanted to go to college, I have the skills, I was told ‘I need money for that’, but I don’t have the money” (I do not have the lovesSexion d’Assaut)
8. Du pèze
The word pèze designates small change before meaning “money” in general. It comes from “pese” which means pea in Occitan but also from “Pezh”, the Breton word for piece.
Wari means money in Bambara, a language widely spoken in West Africa. This word is used a lot in Senegal, there is also a Senegalese money transfer company called Wari.
The word cash obviously comes from English and means cash. In France, we often say “pay in cash” to talk about cash, but what we didn’t know was what the word has been used in our French-speaking country since the 19th century.
It’s been a long time since we used the word wheat to talk about money, simply because wheat was worth a lot of money (or something like that, I admit I didn’t understand everything). Moreover, we say “mown like wheat” to draw the parallel between a ruined person and a field that has just been harvested where there is therefore nothing left.
Pognon is a word used since 1840 to talk about the thunasse. It is a derivative of the verb pogner which means “to take in the pogne” and therefore to take in the hand.
Use in a quality work: “Pony wheat production” (Sound Tocsin In The CountrysideDamien Saez)
To have biff is to have a lot of bills because biff is a derivative of “bifton”, a slang word for banknote.
Use in a quality work: “Only bif, only bif, only bif. That the mif, that the mif, that the mif” (watchtowerKezah and Freddy Gladieux)
We do not really know from when the meaning of the word “sorrel” derived from the money plant but the writer Céline already used it in 1936 in her novel Death on credit : “I’m the one who brings in the sorrel… My mother at Monsieur Bizonde, the renowned bandager, she doesn’t earn much”. He was a collaborator, of course, but above all a precursor of vocabulary.
15. A circle
The term “a round” is used to refer to a small change coin (which is therefore round, surprise). What is surprising is that no one uses it to say that he has money but rather that he does not have any, hence the expression “I don’t have a penny”.
Bigaille is an old slang word for a set of small change coins, a bit like the yellow coins that were put in Bernadette Chirac’s little boxes. This term is still used in certain regions of France such as in Brittany where it is very common.
17. The kishta
The word kichta comes from the slang of the dealers and designates a wad of banknotes but can also be used ironically to speak of a very small sum of money.
Use in a quality work: “Eh, give us the kichta, Oh, the kichta, Eh, I want the kichta” (The KishtaSoolking and Heuss The Bastard)
“Faire du bacon” is a Quebec expression that is not often used in France to mean “making money”. It’s a very approximate literal translation of the English expression “bring home the bacon” and it should really be imported into France because it’s funny anyway.
Before being mustard, the mesh was a French coin that appeared in the 12th century. For currency enthusiasts in the Middle Ages, a mesh was worth half a denarius.
20. Le grisbi
Grisbi is a word composed of griset, which meant “a piece of six farthings” (a quarter of a penny in the 17th century) and the suffix -bi often used in slang. That’s about all I can tell you on the subject.