There’s a very cool event happening right now in my wife’s French hometown and the event’s brochure mentions that there’s an “Atelier d’écriture slam” scheduled for 15H30, followed by a “Grand tournoi de slam-poésie“ at 16H with participation encouraged by the following : « Un slam dit, un cadeau offert ».

The use of “slam” as an adjective in “d’écriture slam” and even as part of the hyphenated noun “slam-poésie” are fairly consistent with my understanding of the use of “slam” in English to describe a poetry event/competition/tournament, but “Un slam dit” in the brochure’s above call for participation seems to be using “slam” as a noun by itself to mean the poem/poetry itself.

The French Wikipedia entry for “slam (poésie)” under the En France heading, paragraph 4, does mention the existence of confusion with the term’s usage, but this seems to be referring to confusion about whether the mere public presentation of poetry (with no competition involved) qualifies as “un slam,” and not to the term’s use as a noun to refer to the poems themselves.

Further below under the cited entry’s “Règles habituelles du slam” heading, the final “rule” includes language nearly identical to the language used in the “Festi Mot’s” brochure, to-wit:

“Un texte dit = un verre offert (est l'exception culturelle francophone)” …

… which tempts me to extrapolate that slam = texte as used in the brochure.

So my question is:

In the Francophone-wide world of “poetry slams” and “slam poetry,” is “slam” commonly used alone as a noun to refer to the poems/texts of poems presented and heard at “slam events/tournaments” (as an abbreviation for “slam-poésie”?)?

or is it a regional (Picardie, France?) use?

or perhaps was its use this way in the brochure simply a result of a lack of space in the brochure?

  • 5
    Souvent rencontré employé comme nom. Exemples. Projet d'écriture d'un slam, écrire un slam à la manière de Grand Corps Malade. un slam, un jour. « Monique clôture la scène par un slam d’hommage aux enfants. Je la rejoins sur scène pour un dernier slam. ». Et sur cette dernière page le mot employé dans des occurrences variées.
    – None
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 16:20
  • 1
    I thought there was a word play with maybe the event being held on Sat. i.e. slam dit sounded like samedi but actually that item was on Sunday!
    – user3177
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 9:07
  • 2
    Like you, I was a priori (at least a bit) surprised by "un slam", so my first thought was: true, till now I don't know that "slam" could be a noun in French. But I finally realized that another, very current, use is: "du slam". So as a begin of answer: it's sure that "slam" can be a noun, at least as uncountable one. Then, since it's a relatively new word in French, why not admit that it's evolving to become countable too...?
    – cFreed
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 18:30
  • 1
    @L'aditdabenlà Yes, they certainly missed a good marketing opportunity by holding it a day late: "Ce samedi: Un slam dit, un cadeau gratuit!" (ben oui, "cadeau gratuit" est redondant [mesdames], mais que voulez vous, il ne s'agit qu'un Slam!) Thanks!
    – Papa Poule
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 21:50
  • 1
    @cFreed “Du Slam”! Yes, of course, the genre of such poems, just as [du] Rap (in both languages) is the genre of (and short for) “[musique de] RAP [music]!” Prompting me to understand just that use as an uncountable noun was answer-worthy in itself, imo, & regardless, certainly worthy of these “Thanks” of mine! Back to “Rap,” has that word evolved to countable status to refer to one “rap song”? If so, I think a quick discussion of that, comparing it to “my” word would be a slam dunk of an answer that I’d love to see you provide (and get “2 points” for)!
    – Papa Poule
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


When french are using an english word, they first use it like english would do, then they try to make it french. Generally by adding -er after the verb to make it a first group verb and make it easy for everyone.

For example with "stop" (un stop, stoppeur, stoppeuse, stopper) or "bluff" (un bluff, bluffeur, bluffeuse, bluffer). We can see that it feel natural for "slam" to be "un slam", "slameur", slameuse" and "slamer". I think those are now accepted french words because the link I provided is "Larousse" a very famous french dictionnary.

Now, "slam" as an adjectif ("poésie slam") is not in the Larousse french dictionnary, rigth now. It seem to me that there would be very few use case for such an adjective ("texte slam", "rythme slam", "diction slam" ?). Moreother, I think that "poésie slam" is a pleonasme. If it's "un slam" it's already poetry, and you could simply use "slam" instead.

  • Thanks for the great links and analysis! I notice that the Larousse entry for “un slam” doesn’t include the original (and still primary) English meaning, which is the word for the actual competition/gathering (between/of the poets) itself, and not for the poetry performed/heard at such venues. I also find interesting the use of “déclamer” for the verb (which in English has some possible pejorative connotations), whereas in English, the more neutral, non-pejorative verbs “perform” & “read,” (and sometimes “recite”) are usually used.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 23:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.