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Recently I read a question on how to say I like you in French. None of these answers provided the expression 'je te kiffe', although I'm quite sure it is used very often. Is there a different context for this expression, or is it even out of date? What is its real meaning?

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I'd like to point that this expression only exists in France (should we add the "France" tag?). –  Sifu Aug 13 at 12:40
    
@Sifu Good question... if the expression essentially doesn't exist in français québéquois, then I say yes. It is helpful, in my opinion, to be able to separate cultural variances in language - for example, how tabarnac doesn't exist in thelanguage in France, because it a specific part of Québec culture. –  Chris Cirefice Oct 5 at 3:26
    
“Je kiffe [something]” is slang but not offensive and pretty common. “Je te kiffe”, said to a person is a little more tricky to use without offending. –  Relaxed Oct 5 at 11:07

6 Answers 6

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“Kiffer” is a derivative of “kif”, which comes from Arabic meaning “hashish” (or at least something related to hemp, I’m a bit short on serious references), figuratively “sensation of pleasure (due to hasish)”. It usually means to appreciate, to enjoy, to like. I’m not sure it's still in use nowadays, but it was enough in the nineties to warrant its apparition in Le Robert 1, 1993 edition.

In Walloon secondary schools some fifteen to twelve years ago, however, the verb's more usual meaning was simply “to smoke weed”.

In any case, I’ve only encountered it in familiar register.

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I am not sure “kif” means “hashish” in Arabic. Isn't it the other way around (i.e. a broader meaning in Arabic that became associated with hemp in French)? See also fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiffer and “kif-kif”. –  Relaxed Oct 5 at 11:05

Sir, that's a very slang term (whatever that actually means) for saying "I appreciate you a lot".

Often used by younger people like teenagers.

Although, this suffers from a lot of prejudices (thus I feel I really shouldn't say more. I don't want to tell prejudices about anyone).

This is often used to imitate / picture / caricature teenagers living in HLMs (wich they can refer to the "téci", verlan of "cité" - look at wikipedia, or "banlieue", the "suburb") who have their own style (which I cannot describe here shortly as easily), sometimes called "caillera" (verlan of "racaille", translated to "scum" by Google trad) (though that word is, IMO, a bit too strong).

In particular, we often see/hear this kind of sentence: « Hé mademoiselle, j'te kiffe ! Tu me files ton 06 ? » which has many, many variants.

I think though it was more often (and commonly) used in the 80s or 90s in general (I mean just the verb "kiffer" in general, like for instance: « J'kiffe grave ce que tu fais »)

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What does "Tu me files ton 06" mean? Is it something like "Give me your mobile number"? –  fiscblog Aug 31 '13 at 8:13
    
@fiscblog: Mobiles phones numbers in France starts with 06 (and 07 occasionally), see fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/… for details. –  BatchyX Aug 31 '13 at 9:28
    
About racaille : if you find scum too strong for this use, maybe riffraff ? thug (with a badass undermeaning) ? –  Romain VALERI Sep 1 '13 at 11:45
    
@fiscblog And they start with 04 in Belgium but I never heard « Tu me files ton 04 ? ». –  JeromeJ Sep 1 '13 at 15:24
    
+1 For centring this in its social context: "Je the kiffe" is fine if you don't mind sounding like a 1990s teenager... –  Neil Coffey Oct 6 at 15:42

I wouldn't advise you to use "je te kiffe", unless you want to say it to a friend who said it to you. When young people say "je te kiffe", it can mean "I like you", either in terms of friendship or slight dating interest.

But it can also mean "I like your personality" or "I like your body", the latter being highly improper when said to a stranger. It's like a cheap "you're nice" or "you're pretty".

You can "kiffe" anything - "je kiffe cette chanson" (I like this song"), "je kiffe ta veste" ("I like your jacket") - but it's teenspeak, and not considered a proper French word.

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But in the NTM song "Ma Benz" there is a line,

J'veux juste que tu puisses me kiffer jusqu'à l'aube

so it probably could, in some contexts, have a nastier sense of physically pleasuring someone. Maybe it's just making out (snogging for Brits), but in the context of the song, it might possibly be a new euphemism for having intercourse, or simply be a direct translation to "pleasuring" in a broader generic sense. I'm not even French, let alone live in the téci, so I have no idea.

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I personally don't interpret it the way you did. More like a funky way (see my answer) to say "to like/love me". Of course the rapper might be insinuating some extra related "actions". Note: I don't personally know that song, it might clearly set a context making me wrong on my personal assumptions. Thank you for (trying to?) contributing to answers! –  JeromeJ Oct 6 at 17:40

“Kiffer” means "to like" but it's slang, and it's totally ghetto <= see what I did there? It's about the same level of colloquialism…

I would recommend you just don't use it. It's not rude per say, but it's rather unsophisticated and will sound really weird coming from a foreigner.

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That's slang term which originates from the French Maghreb community... It is not really a 'pure French expression' nor a 'pure French slang' expression.

I would say the term comes from what French people call 'Les Racailles' which refers to a group of wild French people , usually unemployed and uneducated, involved in many criminal activities and often - but not always - with ethnical roots from foreign immigration such as former French colonies ( Algeria,Marocco, etc...) which resides in lawless areas called 'les cites' - sort of ghettos that used to be social projects towns for factory workers usually made with multi-story buildings , so the term is really strong criminal slang and total French sub culture.

Of course it has been popularized and introduced in the French national culture by modern rap singers and others.

Not everybody in France like that sort of slang...and its introduction in popular French culture...

As a foreigner using that sort of term in the eyes of French people would make you behave very very ridiculous.

sort of sentence where you find that term:

"putain! Je kiffe trop cette chanson!" ( that would be a mix between the French South-west slang 'putain!' (=fuck!) and the Maghreb slang 'kiff' (=I like) )

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Oh la grosse dose de préjugés... Affligeant... –  Alexis Pigeon Oct 10 at 15:15
    
désolé Mr Pigeon,ce n'est peut-etre pas politiquement correct mais c'est la stricte vérité. Il n'y a aucun préjugés la dedans. Ce terme ainsi que bien d'autres du meme genre a une origine sociale bien précise et lié a des classes dangereuses bien précises.On pourrait parler de meme de l'argot lié au louchebem ou au milieu marseillais...je ne vois pas ou sont les préjugés... –  Karl Zorn Oct 10 at 15:22
    
(Tu peux m'appeler Alexis) a group of wild French people [...] involved in many criminal activities [...] which resides in lawless areas. C'est surtout ça que je trouve beaucoup trop "préjugés". the term is really strong criminal slang est assez corsé lui aussi. Et non, un étranger ne sera pas considéré comme très très ridicule s'il vient à utiliser cette expression. Au pire, ce sera vu comme maladroit, au mieux, ça collera parfaitement à la situation. –  Alexis Pigeon Oct 10 at 15:27
    
Que l'expression vienne de l'arabe, et qu'elle ait été importée ou inventée par les immigrés maghrébins de 1ère, 2ème ou 3ème génération est une évidence qu'il n'est pas politiquement incorrect de remarquer, bien au contraire, ça serait même stupide de le nier. –  Alexis Pigeon Oct 10 at 15:31
    
ok alexis, je ne pense pas qu'il soit exagere de dire que nos 'cites' ( la courneuve, la grande borne etc...) soient des endroits ou la loi et la justice ne s'appliquent que sporadiquement , et que dans ces cites regnent de nombreuses activites criminelles. Ensuite 'kiffer' c'est de l'argot maghrebin issu de ces cites, je ne fais pas de rapport direct. En Russie il y a des expressions argotiques issues des vori v zakone (eg en gros 'la mafia russe') et personne ne vient contredire leur origine... –  Karl Zorn Oct 10 at 18:06

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