Kif-Kif or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Today I am at loss and there are still fifteen letters to go!

I can’t find a literal English translation to this short and popular French expression. The English equivalent I offer is correct, although I’d love for you to help me find a smarter one, if it does exist.

The ties between North Africa and France sadly go back to the times of colonization. But with bad things come good things. Among them the great North African cuisine that plays a big part in the French culture. Anyone who ever ate a real couscous, a méchoui (lamb slowly cooked above an open fire pit) or the North African pastries that go so well with mint tea knows what I’m talking about.

In addition to cuisine, a few expressions have slipped from one culture to another.

 

KIF-KIF

IT’S ALL THE SAME

IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE

 

photo(49)

 

photo(49)

 

This expression comes from the Arab word Kif, which means Similar. Kif-Kif comes with a few variants but this one is the most widely used in France. Qu’en dites vous les français?

We say “Kif-Kif” in French when there are two ways to do something, two ways to go somewhere, when one approach to a problem or another won’t make any difference.

My husband and I sometimes use different routes to drive somewhere. Think Google maps versus a car GPS. If both routes are equivalent in terms of distance and time spent behind the wheel, we can agree that the two itineraries are Kif-Kif.

And if I had to pick between the two lillies above and decide which one is the prettiest, I would say, “C’est kif-kif.”

 

See you tomorrow for the letter du jour!

Comments

  1. Two expressions come to mind. At least one of which may be more local to the area where I grew up and neither of which is as concise as kif-kif. “Six of one, half-dozen of another” is a lengthy way to say that, and one that I’ve heard in Pittsburgh growning up and in New England. “Makes no never mind” is one I remember from Pittsburgh but I don’t hear often in CT, except from a friend who went to college in western PA. There’s also a rather crude expression I learned from my friend in England, but I’ll leave that off. Great job.

    • We learn something every day, right? Because I had never heard of “Six of one, half-dozen or another or makes no never mind.” This makes me realize that in the US, much more than in France, expressions vary from one state to another. Marilyn the other day spoke of the use of “Wicked,” a word almost neved used in CA.
      Like you, I’ve left the crude or controversial idioms at home. We’ve got plenty in French but they would be the topic of another challenge! Thank you for your daily comments, Dan. We are almost halfway!

  2. “Six of one, half a dozen of the other” works for me too. Also “they’re a horse apiece” meaning they’re the same. But the shortest one I can think of is “same difference.”

  3. it’s not as much used by younger ones as we used to right now in France, but yes some still use the “kif kif ..” I know a variant : kif kif bourricot… but it’s not that much pleasant … it’s when you want to emphasize the fact that what you’re being told is the same subject and same thing you were saying previously 🙂 ( +the donkey reference)

    • I knew of “Kif-Kif bourricot” as well, Pimpf. Since you imply that younger French people don’t use Kif-Kif as much, what do they say? I’d love to know for my next visit! Merci.

  4. Sounds good to me. Except ‘kif’ in Arabic (and Hebrew) is hashish. In this context, it probably doesn’t matter.

    • It is also hashish for us, that’s correct. But kif-kif still means all the same. There actually lots of variants based on kif in contemporary France. The verb Kiffer means to smoke hashish but also to like, to love and to have fun. I suppose that every country takes liberty with the original noun or verb. Thanks, Marilyn, for the comment. I didn’t want to expand too much from Kif but it was in fact a good idea.

  5. My dad would always say ‘six and two threes’ which is the same as the six of one, half a dozen of the other your other commenters have mentioned.

  6. I need to add “kif-kif” to my vocabulary. I know I can use the phrase numerous times each day.
    (I just gave you a “shout-out” on my blog)

    • It’s a quick way to say “exactly the same” and I certainly grew up hearing and saying it a lot. Thank you so much, Claire, for your support. You beat me since I am planning a short article post challenge and I had also listed your blog among my discoveries of the month. So we are definitely on the same page (another great expression!)

  7. interesting! Along with most of your readers, I’ve always said “Six of one, half-dozen of the other” but “kif-kif” is way shorter!

    • Since you know some French, had you heard “kif-kif” before? We also say, “Kif-kif bourricot,” a “bourricot” being a donkey. The idea is that a donkey looks like another donkey. So adding “bourricot” to “kif-kif” reinforces the idea of similarity.
      I agree with the equivalent expressions offered above, although I had rarely heard them and certainly never used them, which could reinforce my perception: French people use more idioms than American people in their daily conversations. At least in Normandy where I was born and grew up! Thank you, merci, for your nice visits and comments.

      • No, that was new to me, or at least if I have heard it, it soared right over my brain! Yes, I think the French use far more idioms than we do here in the US. It’s very colorful and represents well the culture!

  8. I tend to agree with the fact that we use more in France, although I’m still learning so much in the US that I didn’t know. The links between culture and expressions fascinate me too. Thank you for your comments. It’s interesting to read about your impressions as you discover my native land while I am exploring the American culture through my French lens.

  9. Six of one, half dozen of the other, is the first thing I thought of when I first heard Kif-Kif… But I’ve heard makes no never mind as well. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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