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I have heard the following sentence in the TV series Marseille (S01E06@2:45) :

  • Les keufs à mort! Cassez-vous!

Context: Some members of a gang in a violent neighborhood are talking. Suddenly, two guys appear in a moto, yelling the sentence above and shooting upwards. The intention is to warn everybody that the police are coming.

I know that "keuf" means "cop", but what does "à mort" mean in this context? I have seen in Wiktionary that it can mean "very" in some contexts, but that does not make sense here.

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    Can you specify in which episode (and maybe which approximate time) this scene can be seen? I just would like to check by myself if that is a correct transcription. Out of context , it would mean "death to the cops", but that does not fit completely (why would they shout that to warn about the police ?) , and it is more usual then to shout "à mort les keufs".
    – Greg
    Apr 3 '20 at 4:42
  • The music makes it hard to understand, but I think the guy on the moto shouts either "le keuf est mort" (I did not watch the show, maybe there is a point in this plot where a cop is killed ?) , or "les keufs, c'est mort" (I will make a tentative answer for that one).
    – Greg
    Apr 3 '20 at 7:09
  • @Greg No cop death was shown in that episode, so I think your second interpretation is the correct one. Apr 3 '20 at 13:27
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    Please include the reference to S01E06@2:45 in the Q so I can remove this comment...
    – user19187
    Apr 11 '20 at 5:30
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The music unfortunately makes it hard to hear distinctly, but I rather hear "les keufs, c'est mort !"

C'est mort is a fairly recent phrase (maybe 10/15 years or so ?), used rather by young people, and it means "it's over", "game over", "give it up", "won't happen", "forget it". See here.

Alors, tes examens, ça va aller ?

-C'est mort, j'ai maths demain, et j'ai encore rien étudié.

Tu peux venir faire du shopping avec nous demain ?

-C'est mort, je dois travailler

Pour le match de demain, c'est mort: je me suis blessé.

So in the scene you refer to, the guy on the moto warns the gang that the cops are coming and calls them to give up the plan they had in mind and run away.

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    The expression is much older than that. It is reported in a 1944 source here: languefrancaise.net/Bob/36887
    – jlliagre
    Apr 8 '20 at 16:20
  • Thanks, that is surprising ! I still feel the usage has increased over the last years then, I personally hear teenagers around me using it very often.
    – Greg
    Apr 9 '20 at 5:15
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It's a contraction of the expression "mettre à mort" which means to execute or more literally putting to death.

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  • The unusual thing here is that when someone shouts that, they usually use the turn of phrase "à mort XXX", eg "à mort le roi", "à mort l'arbitre".
    – Greg
    Apr 3 '20 at 7:11
  • I don't think that's the intended meaning in the show. The bikers are obviously warning everybody that the police is coming and that everybody should run away, not calling them to stay and attack the police. Also, if they were doing that, probably they would probably say "à mort les keufs!", as Greg mentioned. Apr 3 '20 at 13:28

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