Dans les opposants à Céline Pina, on trouve des gens de gauche, y compris du PS, probablement par électoralisme, mais aussi des gens sincères qui croient réellement que les femmes ayant des obligations vestimentaires à cause d'une religion sont opprimées par ceux qui ne veulent pas de ces obligations. C'est à se les bouffer, si je puis me permettre.

Given that the phrase is followed by "si je puis me permettre", I assume it is a somewhat vulgar expression.

Incidentally, does the pronoun "les" here refer to something particular, regardless of context? Just like "la (vie)" in the expression "se la couler douce"?

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    If I were to use that sentence "C'est à se les bouffer" it would be in a annoying or totally stupid situation. It would imply that "les" means testicles. The whole sentence being (excuse my french) "C'est à se bouffer les couilles". Sorry I understand it is inappropriate but it does explain the case. So if I were in the really annoying situation and for instance I don't see any positive outcome, in despair, I could say that.It would mean the situation is so stupid that a stupid action is relevant.
    – Everts
    Nov 23, 2017 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


The slang expression se les bouffer can be used with two meanings.

In the first one, les means the others, the opponent:

Les anglais, on va se les bouffer.

That means we are going to strongly defeat them, to crush them, figuratively to eat them the cannibal way.

The second one is when you realize you made a big mistake or that you lost something, you reached a non return point so there is nothing to do. You are then alone and ruminate the past. Here les means a couple of personal items sometimes called les bijoux de familles...

In your sentence, the second meaning is used. C'est à se les bouffer means that the situation is so disappointing that there is no hope, the person is upset and has nothing to do outside meditating and settling his nerves.

  • Wow, there's much more to this than meets the eye. What is the English equivalent of "C'est à se les bouffer" in its figurative second sense? Nov 22, 2017 at 18:01
  • No idea, that would be an interesting question on a English Language site ;-)
    – jlliagre
    Nov 22, 2017 at 18:05
  • Je me demande si cette expression se rapproche plus de « Quel que soit ce qu’on se tape, on serre les dents et s'en fait une raison par défaut » que de « on se trouve au-delà du point de non-retour » ? "Take it on the chin" ou "grin and bear it", peut-être ? Nov 22, 2017 at 19:12
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    It sounds a bit literary while à se les bouffer is crude slang.
    – jlliagre
    Nov 22, 2017 at 20:39
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    "X is/would be a kick in the balls" might be the closest expression, after all. ;) Nov 26, 2017 at 19:52

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