The French phrase "C'est chelou" revealed

Get prepared to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the funny phrase “C’est chelou”.

Including a detailed explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. As well as the cool stuff we sprinkled like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, synonyms and more!

If you are interested, you will find more of these phrases pages on this page plus all our French words pages on this page. Ready to learn? C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

Table of Contents

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Translation in English

How to pronounce?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

C'est chelou meaning

Definition

The literal meaning is:

  • C’est → It is
  • Chelou → Weird (Slang)

This French expression is coming from the word “Louche” (Suspicious) which got twisted through a slang mechanism called “verlan“. So the word’s syllables are reversed: Lou-che → Che-lou.

But what is even more interesting here, it’s that in people’s mind, the meaning of these two words ended up being different. “Louche” means “Shady / Suspicious” while “Chelou” means just “Weird“.

So now, “C’est chelou” is something we use in informal contexts to say “It’s weird” without necessarily implying that there is something shady.

How to use

Use it exactly like you would use “It’s weird” in English, except that it’s much more familiar and not suited for formal environments. If you want something more formal, you can say: “C’est étrange” (It’s strange) or another variation listed on the “Synonyms” section below.

One example: you tell a friend that you made the same dream 5 days in a row, so you add at the end of your sentence: “C’est chelou non ?” (It’s weird right?). And your friend would answer: “Oui, c’est chelou !” (Yes, it’s weird!)

To highlight how weird this is, you can add “Grave” before “Chelou“. For example: “C’est grave chelou !” (It’s so weird!)

Synonyms

  • C’est louche. (“It’s suspicious“)
  • C’est bizarre. (“It’s weird“)
  • C’est zarbi. (“It’s weird“)(Slang)
  • C’est étrange. (“It’s strange“)
  • C’est curieux. (“It’s curious“)
  • C’est surprenant. (“It’s surprising“)
  • C’est étonnant. (“It’s surprising“)
  • Ça m’étonne. (“It surprises me“)
  • Ça me surprend. (“It surprises me“)

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue transcription

” T’as vu ce qu’il s’est passé ?! “
” Did you see what happened?! “
” Ouais, c’est chelou ! “
” Yeah, it’s weird! “
” Carrément ! “
” Totally! “
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