©Alexandre Lamoureux
The best Breton expressions

The best Breton expressions

You may have already heard some little phrases or expressions that surprised you the last time you came to Brittany. And yes, the region has its own expressions that are not always easy to understand. They are called Bretonisms, these turns of language specific to Brittany and which do not exist in any dictionary but that only the Bretons understand. Here is our best selection!

The most popular expressions

What if we told you that diving into the world of Breton expressions is a bit like going on an adventure in a foreign land, where every word is a new cultural discovery? In Brittany, there is no shortage of expressions that illustrate the indomitable spirit and rich cultural heritage of the region. So, shall we refresh your memory? Hang on, Bec’h dei! (Here we go!)

Let’s start with some expressions that will come in handy while traveling in Côtes-d’Armor.

  • Yec’hed mat!
    This is a very useful expression in Brittany when you’re sipping pints or bowls of cider with several people. Indeed, it means “Cheers!” or even “Cheers!”
  • Degemer mat!”
    In Breton, “degemer” means “welcome” and “mat” means “good”. If you hear these two words, you are simply welcomed.
  • How’s that?
    This formula used by the Breton people may surprise the first time you hear it. It is just a greeting that can be translated as “how are you?”
  • A juice
    If you are offered “a juice”, it is not a freshly squeezed fruit juice but a coffee.
  • Faire du reuz
    “And it will make reuz”! Understand this is going to make a lot of noise in the moments to come!


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Everyday expressions

If you are in Brittany, you will most likely hear many Breton expressions in your daily life. Some Bretons use them without even thinking about it. Here are some of these expressions that are part of everyday language in Brittany:

  • A gouelle.
    Did you stuff yourself with four galettes-saucisses before having two slices of kouign-amann for dessert? Congratulations, you have just eaten like a gouelle that is to say like a goinfreak.
  • A-dreuz !
    This expression means “crooked”. So if someone says “You parked at-dreuz,” they’re just saying you parked wrong.
  • The curler
    So no, the curler is not a bar. It’s small change that’s always lying around somewhere: at the bottom of a bag or your pants, for example.
  • Ma doué!
    This translates to “My God,” and its variant “Ma doué beniget!” if you’re really shocked.
  • Friskette
    This word is used to say it’s cold: “It’s been friskette outside the last few days.”



Late night expressions

Night has fallen on Brittany and the party is in full swing. Laughter and cheerful conversation echo through the streets, bars and homes. But when the evening comes to an end, Breton expressions take on their full meaning to close the night.

  • Blowing in the biniou
    While the biniou is the instrument heard at all Fest Noz, in this expression we are far from wanting to play a few Breton music notes. Indeed, this expression means to blow in a breathalyzer.
  • Faire la chouille
    Concretely to make the chouille, it is to make the party!”
  • Gwenojenn/ribine
    A clue? So go through this ribine, you will arrive much faster! Definition of a route bis, another path much shorter!
  • Skuizh
    The expression to say that we are tired! I am skuizh!
  • Louzoù
    You feel bad, you have a little head spinning? So take some of this louzoù to recover from this state! You will have understood, the louzoù is a remedy, a medicine to solve your ills.


An invitation to explore the culture of the region

Although some expressions are no longer commonly used, they have been passed down from generation to generation and are an integral part of Breton history and culture. Witnesses to the richness of Breton culture, they allow for a better understanding of the region’s identity.

So be proud to share these expressions with those around you and thus contribute to the transmission of Breton culture!