I found a piece of music in which a Jamaican is saying the following in English:

"Bad man like good things, bad man like the best things as a matter of fac, like, bad man like to wear the best clothes,, they like to listen to the best music, so where there is a dj that is happening, the rude boys is going to be there"

I want to explain that to my French friend. How can you say "bad man" in French slang? Isn't it "homme glauque"?

  • 1
    Please note the use of bad man in Jamaican Patwa is akin to English "gangster", and is not the same as the English phrase "a bad man" although it might have derived from it.
    – Michaelyus
    Nov 5, 2019 at 18:22

4 Answers 4


Figurez-vous que Bad man (Le titre du bouquin de Dathan Auerbach) n'a pas été traduit dans la V.F.
Est-ce un hasard si on le retrouve dans... How to translate the untranslatable de Jacques Bastin ?

Je crois que toute bonne traduction en français devrait prendre en compte le rude boys de la fin qui lui est rapporté.

Mais comme l'OP ne demandait qu'une traduction argotique... en voilà des possibles, fonction... du côté où on se trouve, du quartier où on se trouve et surtout... de l'époque. En vrac donc :

loub / peau-rouge / zonard / loubard / caillera / galapiat / arsouille / frappe / gouape / apache / marlou...

  • 1
    Thomas Fersen, "Les femmes préfèrent" Les femmes préfèrent les méchants, Les méchant sont plus alléchants. Les femmes préfèrent les salauds, Les salauds sont plus rigolos... Les femmes préfèrent les bandits,Les bandits sont plus applaudis... Les femmes préfèrent les gangsters, Les gangsters ont plus de misère...
    – Damien
    Nov 7, 2019 at 13:15

Sans connaître le registre de langage de l'expression anglaise, je traduirais volontiers presque littéralement par mauvais-garçon, qui n'est pas de l'argot.

  • Oui et je reconnais que c'est aussi par là que j'aurais commencé si... dans le cadre d'une traduction complète de l'extrait... il n'y avait eu ce rude boys à la fin... et... il faudra bien mettre une différence.
    – MC68020
    Nov 5, 2019 at 16:04

According to me, bad man is here not seems as an insult. I make a difference between "bastard", where it would be seen as a real insult, and a bad man, a man without morality that think for himself and doesn't care of others. If you want to use an insult, I like the word "enfoiré". It is an insult but it is also used when you want to say to someone like a firend, that he did something bad to you: "T'es un enfoiré mec, tu partages même pas la pizza!". It is also used as a surprise word: "Enfoiré, elle est vraiment grande la tour Eiffel! ".

Without an insult, you have plenty of words. As there is a notion of beeing "rude", I like the word: "caid". "Caid" are people that think of himself as superior, but with the aura they have people tends to gave them respect, but more of fear than admiration.

With more context, like the full text of the musique, it would be easier to give a more appropriate word.

  • 1
    As a native, I don't think I've heard "enfoiré" used to show surprise more than twice in my life... But I'm sure it might be, I guess it's a regional and cultural thing.
    – Right leg
    Nov 7, 2019 at 8:40
  • @Rightleg Well I am from Toulouse, maybe it explains it. That's true that where I am leaving now, in Belgium, I don't hear it quite often. But as I tried to explain, I don't like the insult behind it. Nov 14, 2019 at 10:48

The most common rendering is the word "salaud" ([salo]). It is also used as an insult.

(TLFi) B. 1. Surtout au masc., arg., pop., injurieux. Personne méprisable, dénuée de toute moralité; personne capable d'actes contraires à tous les principes moraux.

  • C'est un salaud !
    (He is a bad man!)

  • Salaud !
    ((You) dirty bastard!)

There is a much more vulgar term, "fumier" ([fymje]), (also used as an insult).

(TLFi) 2. Vulg. [Terme d'injure] Personne qui ne mérite que du mépris. Synon. ordure, salaud.

  • C'est un fumier !

  • Fumier !
    ((You) dirty bastard!)

The following terms from standard French are not vulgar but they have lost their force and are not used any more.

  • canaille ((TLFi) B. Usuel. [Désigne des individus] Individu malhonnête et sans scrupules.)
  • vaurien

To be consistent, considering that "bad man" is not slang but standard English, a word like "canaille" would be better. It's a word we still find in a song by Gainsbourg, so it is not that much "out of fashion".

There are words that have less general connotations of badness and refer to men specifically involved in illegal activity.

  • voyou
  • malfrat ((TLFi) Arg. et pop. Malfaiteur, voyou.)

"Glauque" is not used in standard French to say "bad", except in a restricted part of the population, that is to say certain people such as those that like pornography; you find the term "femme glauque"; that is a name for a woman doing pornographic shows.

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