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I was reading a book and saw a character say "C'est quoi ce brol ?" I couldn't find the word in any dictionary. I do wish there was a decent Urban Dictionary for French, but there isn't. What does this word mean and why isn't it in dictionaries?

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It's an informal expression presumably confined to use in Belgium, which accounts for the difficulty in looking up the word.

Doesn't "C'est quoi ce brol ?" remind you of a similarly structured "C'est quoi ce truc ?"? Yes, "brol" basically means "truc", though "brol" has a more pejorative sense like "what is this stupid thing?".

On the other hand, "brol" can also mean "a place in a shambles", but the first meaning applies to its use in "C'est quoi ce brol ?".

  • I modified your answer slightly to capture the idea better, I think! – temporary_user_name Aug 2 '18 at 20:22
  • maybe "meaningless thing" ? – Random Aug 3 '18 at 16:57
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"Brol" is a belgicism. The general meaning is some kind of messy situation. See here: https://mobile-dictionary.reverso.net/francais-definition/brol

For example, entering the room of your kids, you could probably more than often ask:

C'est quoi ce brol ?

This is probably the meaning in your example

I've heard it quite often used also to describe an unidentified thing. Kinda as a synonym for "truc" or "machin". You could then ask the same question about let's say a mysterious email you received or a strange object on a colleague's desk, or some piece of contemporary art...

All my examples are real life ones, I use them on a regular basis.

Note this would only be understood by Belgian French speakers and is very familiar, while being slightly pejorative, so you may not be able to use it a lot yourself :-)

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    Also fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/brol Without knowing the word, I would have understood it as a variant of bordel which is used at least in France with the very same meaning (désordre, truc). Brol etymology seems unclear, but bordel is not in the Wiktionary list. – jlliagre Aug 2 '18 at 19:30
  • To show how much this word is common in Belgium, it is often said that in private, Belgium's prince Charles (regent from 1945 to 1950 during a major institutional crisis) used to boast jokingly "j'ai sauvé le brol" (the "brol" being nothing less than the monarchy). – Greg Aug 2 '18 at 19:46
  • I tried reverso, what the hell? Thank you...dunno why it doesn't come up for me... Ohhhh, it's in the dictionary but not the French-English dictionary. – temporary_user_name Aug 2 '18 at 20:22

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