Discover the French phrase "C'est chelou"

Get ready to learn everything you want to know about the basic phrase “C’est chelou”.

Are included a complete guide of what it is and how to use it in a normal conversation with an audio example. Together with the useful stuff we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

Oh and… you will find more of these phrases explained on this page and all our French words tutorials on this page. C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

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English translation

How to pronounce it?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does c'est chelou mean?


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 minds, 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 it

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 in the “Synonyms” section below.

One example: you tell a friend that you had 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 and similarities

  • 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“)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Conversation inconfortable
Uncomfortable conversation
Claude:   Ton ami t’a dit qu’il t’aime ?!
Your friend told you he loves you?!
Léa:   Oui, c’est embarrassant…
Yes, it’s embarrassing…
Claude:   En effet, c’est une situation compliquée.
Indeed, it’s a complicated situation.
Léa:   Je ne sais pas quoi faire. C’est chelou maintenant…
I don’t know what to do. It’s weird now…
Claude:   Je suis d’accord, c’est chelou.
I agree, it’s weird.
Léa:   Je veux être honnête avec toi… je veux le rencontrer une dernière fois.
I want to be honest with you… I want to meet him one last time.
Claude:   Pour quelle raison ?
For what reason?
Léa:   Pour lui dire au revoir.
To say goodbye to him.
Claude:   Tu crois que c’est une bonne idée ?
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