The French phrase "J'ai la flemme" revealed

Are you ready to discover everything you have to know about the basic phrase “J’ai la flemme”?

It includes a full guide of what it is and how you can use it in a conversation with an audio example. And because we care about you, we also sprinkled super useful stuff like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Oh and before I forget, you will find more phrases pages like this one on this page plus the ultimate directory of all our French words pages on this page. Ready to learn? Let’s go!

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English translation

Audio pronunciation

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does j'ai la flemme mean?

Definition

It literally means:

  • J’ai → I have
  • La flemme → Laziness

A long time ago, doctors thought people with a lot of “phlegm” (an old name for “mucus“) in their body were not very dynamic. With time, the word changed a bit to become “flemme“. And so “Avoir la flemme” (To have “la flemme“) means “To feel lazy“.

That’s why “J’ai la flemme” is translated in English as “I feel lazy” or “I can’t be bothered” or “I don’t feel like it“.

How to use

First, use it carefully because it’s familiar and not appropriate to formal situations such as a work environment.

The typical use would be “J’ai pas envie de travailler. J’ai la flemme” (I don’t want to work. I feel lazy). By saying such things, you imply that you prefer doing a passive and less energy-consuming activity instead, for example: take a nap!

If someone asks you to do something and you want to “politely” say that you don’t want to, use instead: “Je n’ai pas envie.” (I don’t want to.)

And finally, if you know someone who is being lazy and wants to tell him/her, you can use: “Mais quel flemmard(e)” (What a lazy person.)

Fun facts

As many French expressions, if you want to strengthen it or make it more passionate you can add “Putain” before or after, eg: “Putain j’ai la flemme !“.

Synonyms and similarities

  • Je n’ai pas envie. (“I don’t want to“)
  • J’ai pas envie. (“I don’t want to“)
  • La flemme. (“I feel lazy“)
  • La flemme. (“I feel lazy“)
  • J’avais la flemme. (“I was lazy“)
  • Je suis paresseux. (“I am lazy“)
  • Je suis fainéant. (“I am lazy“)

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.
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Trouver une excuse
Find an excuse
___
Karine:   J’ai besoin de ton aide, c’est urgent !
I need your help, it’s urgent!
Rémi:   Je t’écoute.
I’m listening.
Karine:   J’ai besoin de trouver une excuse !
I need to find an excuse!
Rémi:   Une excuse ? Pourquoi ?
An excuse? Why?
Karine:   Pour une fête. Une amie m’a invité et je ne veux pas y aller !
For a party. A friend invited me and I don’t want to go there!
Rémi:   Pourquoi ?
Why?
Karine:   Parce que j’ai la flemme.
Because I’m lazy.
Rémi:   Alors dis ça, pourquoi mentir ?
Then say that, why lying?
Karine:   Parce qu’elle va m’en vouloir si je dis ça…
Because she will be mad at me if I say that…
Rémi:   Si tu es honnête, elle ne t’en voudra pas… je pense.
If you’re honest, she won’t be mad at you… I think.
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