I have heard the following sentence in the TV series Marseille:

Ça y est, nous avons reglé nos comptes, on peut se checker maintenant.

Context: a neighborhood gang leader has blown up the car of a guy which lives in the neighborhood as punishment because the guy had refused to make him a favor. They meet in the next day in a building and the gangster says the sentence above.

https://www.linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/checker/ says that "checker" is an anglicanism which means "to check". However, nobody says "we can check ourselves now" in English, so I assume that this expression is a French-specific slang. What does it mean?

  • See Urban Dictionary entry. Without further context I would understand it as: "We got even, now we can lie low / back off (lest we attract more attention and face consequences)." Actually not a huge leap from the fourth definition under "verb" wiktionary.org/wiki/check, except slangified. This is not an answer just in case a native speaker comes to say that the meaning has indeed shifted since the borrowing. – Luke Sawczak Jan 25 '20 at 14:06
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    I leave the above as a case study in a theory being logical yet wrong :) – Luke Sawczak Jan 25 '20 at 14:54

Here the meaning is to bump hands, often with personal variants depending on who is doing it, to salute someone: faire un check.

See https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/comment-le-check-s-est-impose-dans-la-vie-de-tous-les-jours_877483.html

I believe this is called a fist bump in English.

The origin of the noun/verb check might be an assimilation with (hand)shake, as shake and check are often pronounced identically (/tʃɛk/) by French people while faire un shake (pronounced /ʃɛk/) would collide with faire un chèque ("write/cut a cheque").

  • Watching again the scene, I have noticed that the gangster closes one of his hands and puts it forward in a fist bump position, so I think you have hit the nail on the head. Thanks! – Alan Evangelista Jan 25 '20 at 14:15
  • nitpicking, though: a check traditionally starts with slapping palms, hands open, and then there's a fist bump. There are tons of variations on this simple model, including double-slap without fist bump, or skipping directly to the first bump. – njzk2 Jan 26 '20 at 7:48

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