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French Idiom: Avoir Le Cafard (To Be Down In The Dumps)

French Idiom: Avoir Le Cafard (To Be Down In The Dumps)

The saying avoir le cafard (Literally: to have the cockroach) is very commonly used in French to be down in the dumps, to have the blues, to be feel depressed or to be in the doldrums.

avoir le cafard

to be depressed

Avoir le cafard - French idiom

According to, the French word “cafard” comes from “kafir” in Arabic, which was used to describe a person who had little faith. The article goes on to say that in the 16th century in France, the word was also used in this sense, meaning that be a cockroach was to live in the dark, far away from the light of God.

In modern French, “avoir le cafard” simply means to be depressed.

Je suis deprime depuis un bon moment. J’ai le cafard.

I’ve been depressed for a while. “I have the blues”.

Ma petite copine m’a quitee et j’ai le cafard.

My girlfriend left me and I’m depressed.

Si tu as le cafard, telephone-moi et on peut en parler.

If you’re depressed, call me and we can talk about it.


We hope you don’t “avoir le carard” today! Want to learn more French idioms? Check out our main expressions page!

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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