All about the French quote "J'ai le cafard"

Are you ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the basic idiom “J’ai le cafard”?

To be clear, this includes a full definition of what it is and how to use it in a dialogue with an audio example. And because we want to help you on your learning journey, we also added super useful stuff like synonyms, dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio and more!

In addition, you can find our others idioms tutorials on this page and the ultimate list of all our French words content on this page. Have fun!

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French to English

Audio pronunciation

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does j'ai le cafard mean?

Definition

It literally means:

  • J’ai → I have
  • le → the
  • cafard → cockroach

Introduced by Charles Baudelaire in 1857 in “Les Fleurs du mal” this expression designates dark thoughts that can settle in the head, just like cockroaches in a house.

How to use it

You can use it to talk about how you feel: “Je m’en vais, j’ai le cafard.” (I’m leaving, I got the blues.)

Or to ask someone about how he/she feels: “Tu vas bien ? On dirait que tu as le cafard.” (Are you ok? You seem to have the blues.)

Synonyms

  • Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette. → I don’t feel good (Literally: I’m not in my plate)
  • Je suis déprimé. → I’m depressed
  • Je suis triste. → I’m sad
  • Je broie du noir. → I’m sad (Literally: I’m grinding black)
  • Je n’ai pas le moral. → I’m not in a good mood

Example in a story with slow audio

Now, let’s see a complete example of this expression in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
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Cafard ou Coccinelle ?
Cockroach or ladybug?
___
Aujourd’hui, Philippe est venu voir Emily.
Today, Philippe came to see Emily.
Il a sonné et Emily a ouvert la porte.
He rang and Emily opened the door.
Emily avait l’air triste. Philippe lui demanda :
Emily looked sad. Philippe asked her:
Philippe:   Tout va bien ?
Is everything fine?
Emily:   Oui, tout va bien… Entre.
Yes, everything is fine… Come in.
Il est entré dans l’appartement et a découvert beaucoup de désordre.
He came into the apartment and discovered a huge mess.
Philippe:   Chérie, tu es sûre que tout va bien ?
Honey, are you sure everything is fine?
Emily s’assit sur le canapé, soupira et dit :
Emily sat down on the couch, sighed and said:
Emily:   J’ai regardé un film triste ce matin.. Et maintenant j’ai la coccinelle…
I watched a sad movie this morning… And now I have the ladybug…
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