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I just stumbled across the verb 'venir' - to come. I was wondering if it had a similar set of meanings as it would in English (to come to some place, and also to orgasm).

Are these translations usually present in a dictionary? I'm not immediately seeing it on the Collins dictionary page, but that could just be because they may not list slang.

  • If you feel up for it, spend a month or two talking to French students in their teens/20s. You'll get a quick sense of a lot of the vulgarities that circulate in the language (as you would likely find with many young adults in any language). – Chris Cirefice Jan 8 '15 at 0:19
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I tried that Collins dictionary page for jouir. It says,

  1. (= bénéficier)
    jouir de [calme, prérogative] to enjoy
  2. (sexuellement) to reach orgasm, to come

Perhaps that shows that if a verb has a sufficiently-common and not-too-vulgar meaning, then that's listed in Collins.

It translates clope and bourré as well, so it seems to do common slang.

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Short of finding a sex related lexicon which would also showcase usage1, I suggest research. From the entries in the Trésor, Littré and Grand Larousse we don't find what you're looking for, but some figurative meanings are insightful, in particular the idea of aboutissement (the "coming to the end/tip" i.e. to the conclusion). In the Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Rey, Tomi, Hordé, Tanet, Ed. Le Robert.), venir, as in to have an orgasm, is identified as a calque (a mere copy) from a usual meaning of the verb to come in English; and this was introduced in French by G. Apollinaire (some of his work here) quite recently, in 1906. For instance, in Les exploits d'un jeune Don Juan (1911), venir is used accordingly. Furthermore, spending some time reading the author's work should provide lexicon aplenty!


1. It strikes me that many verbs could describe or be associated with having an orgasm depending on context, such as arriver, aboutir, exploser, finir etc. but you won't necessarily find a reference for all that. In English, to come (off) as having an orgasm may date back (see maybe also NED) to the 17th, yet it is still considered informal in AmE and slang in BrE; pornography originating cum is listed as slang/vulgar in AmE and literally as taboo(!) and slang in the UK. Informal, slang, vulgar and taboo don't mean the same thing; vulgar/non vulgar doesn't capture the scope nor the subtlety of the language and its usage imho.

  • The last word, "Viens!", of "Je t'aime moi non plus" is another, more recent example of the word being used accordingly in fine literature/poetry: paroles.net/serge-gainsbourg/paroles-je-t-aime-moi-non-plus ... Researching (modern)song lyrics would probably also provide many interesting uses to ponder, but I wouldn't know how to use Ngrams for that! – Papa Poule Jan 5 '15 at 23:52
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    @PapaPoule Thanks for the comment! I'll leave ngrams to others but surely that could be insightful. What I left out from the answer is that you have to go one step further and note that the way Apollinaire uses that is mostly "ça me vient", "ça vient", with the 3rd person and not with the 1st; there is one instance in the link I provided where I noticed the infinitve could be construed as "to make me come"(me faire venir) but I would have had to bring forth all those raunchy examples loll and showcase the difference. As it stands I don't know who introduced the 1st person as in "je viens".Ty – user3177 Jan 6 '15 at 0:25
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I just checked in my Multi Dictionnaire de la langue française and noticed that word with a vulgar meaning often comes with the mention Fam for Familier. Althrough, familiar words are not all vulgar.

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To come sexually = jouir I'm going to come = Je vais jouir An orgasm = une jouissance

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