Swing in French
Verb balancer: to swing

The French verb balancer is a regular verb. It can mean:

  • to sway
  • to swing (e.g. branches)
  • to throw, to chuck

BUT be careful of this False Friend - it does NOT mean: to balance.

The French verbs for this are équilibrer or compenser.

However: contrebalancer does mean to counterbalance.

Nowadays the French verb balancer has taken other meanings in French slang such as "to grass on someone", or "to chuck out one's boy/girlfriend". Here are some examples:

  • Les branches se balancent au gré du vent.
    The branches swing over the course of the wind.
  • Elle l'a balancé parce qu'elle l'a surpris avec une autre fille.
    She chucked him out because she saw him with another girl.
  • Il a balancé son frère à leur mère.
    He grassed on his brother to their mother.

  • Ils ont balancé leurs affaires dans leur chambre avant de ressortir en courant.
    They chucked their stuff in their room and then, went out the house running.

Reflexive form

The reflexive form of the French verb balancer is: se balancer. It means:

  • to sway
  • to rock (e.g. a boat, chair)
  • to throw oneself

In English the noun la balance (f) can mean:

  • balance (equilibrium)
  • balance (in accounting)
  • balance (audio)
  • a set of scales

Idioms using the French verb balancer:

  • Être une (vieille) balance (slang): to be a (real) snitch/squealer
  • Tout balancer à quelqu'un (slang): to bare one's soul
  • Balancer les bras : to swing one's arms
  • Balancer quelqu'un ou quleque chose dans les gencives: to stuff somebody or something down one's throat
  • On s'en balance!: Who cares?
  • Balancer n'importe quoi: to talk nonsense

The French verb balancer in context:

Juin 2008. A vélo en sous-vêtements pour attirer l'attention sur les nuisances du trafic parisien.

Inventée il y a à peu près 8 ans en Espagne, cette pratique est également devenue populaire en France.

Ces cyclistes un peu spéciaux se balancent sur leur vélo, presque en tenues d'Adam et Eve, afin de lutter contre les effets de la pollution qu'entraîne autant de trafic dans la capitale, et aussi pour dénoncer la montée excessive du prix du carburant.

Leur manifestation est très symbolique ; vêtus de la sorte, rien ne les protège des dangers de la circulation car il n'est pas facile de se déplacer à vélo dans Paris.

Les participants se sont vus entourés de policiers pour leur protection et pour éviter tout débordement, même si, toutefois, deux individus ont été arrêtés pour ne pas avoir respecté les règles dictées par les autorités.

En effet, les personnes en questions ne portaient aucun vêtement, en public, et risquent de passer une année en prison, ainsi qu'une amende de plusieurs milliers d'euros. L'an dernier, la Police avait arrêté cinq individus.

Inspired by:

English translation

June 2008. On a bike, wearing just underwear to denounce how harmful the Parisian traffic is.

Started in Spain eight years ago, this practice has become equally popular in France.

These rather special cyclists, swing on their bikes almost in their birthday suits, in order to fight against the effects of pollution that so much traffic provokes in the capital, and also to denounce the exaggerated increase of fuel prices.

Their protest is very symbolic; dressed this way, nothing protects them from the dangers of the traffic as it is not easy to get around Paris by bike.

The demonstrators were surrounded by policemen for their own protection and to avoid trouble, however despite this, two persons were arrested because they did not obey the regulations imposed by the authorities.

Indeed, the persons in question were not wearing any clothes in public, and are likely to spend one year in jail and pay a fine amounting to thousands of euros. Last year, the Police arrested five individuals.


inventer (v) = to invent, to devise, to create, to make something up
lutter (v) = to struggle
lutter contre quelqu'un = to fight against somebody.
en tenues d'Adam et Eve = to be in one's birthday suit / wearing no clothes
la règle (f) = rule, regulation.
dicter (v) = to dictate, to impose (laws), to motivate.

Written and compiled by Charlotte Chateau.

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