In English, "Instant messaging" can be abbreviated to IM. The equivalent words in French are either "Messagerie instantanée" or "Clavardage" (chat). Would it be appropriate to abbreviate "Messagerie instantanée" to "MI"?


Upon further research, I'm seeing two places use the abbreviation "MI":

Still, the phrase "Messenger" or "Messagerie instantanée" appear on those pages, giving the abbreviation context.

5 Answers 5


As a French, I can't see any common abbreviation for IM. I don't know about Quebec, but "MI" is certainly not used in France or Belgium.

When not going for the long "messagerie instantanée", people will more conveniently use the name of the service if there is one - "Skype", "Communicator", etc. "Chat" is used as well but in my experience, it tends to describe a multi-participant room more than a one-on-one instant conversation.


I am french and I can say that there is no way to say that. We oftenly use the acronym of the website / software that is used but not Instant Messaging. By the way, I have never heard "clavardage"

  • 1
    Facebook uses the terms "clavardage" and "discussion instantanée". According to Wikipedia, it seems to originate from Quebec. Feb 20, 2014 at 8:27
  • I guess they had to come up with a word for chat because, well there is another meaning for chat (you know, the cat), and when you read it, sentences do not make sense. And we like here to have "french" words for stuff that can have one so, it seems we came up with clavardage.
    – user757
    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:16
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    Yeah clavardage is totally from Québec.. I should've mention that! Feb 20, 2014 at 13:23
  • Even in Quebec, the noun (much less the verb!) is not a very natural term. People know of it, but it won't roll off the tongue and people just avoid using it unless in a fairly formal setting (e.g. Radio-Canada)
    – Circeus
    Feb 24, 2014 at 22:26

If an abbreviation is actually used, it'll usually be the (if any) one for the program the person is using: MSN, AIM, ICQ (do people still use that??) etc.


To go further than guillaume31, since chat is usually used when there are several people talking in the same room, one might use MP for "message privé" (equivalent of PM) for a one-to-one alternative.

It's a bit more general though and doesn't quite reflect the instantannée part, for which we have no equivalent (of IM I mean) in French.


Well, to be honest, I've never really seem the abbreviation "MI". I've seen the English one use though "IM" in a French context. The French Wikipedia page of Instant_messaging seems to agree with me

L’abréviation IM du sigle anglais Instant Messaging est parfois utilisée, également IMP pour « Instant Messaging and Presence »

But normally the expression is written completely or people, here in Québec, use a synonym like "clavardage" or "tchat".

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