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French Proverbs





French proverbs offer insight into French culture, history, and society, and are often used in speech and writing. There is no substitute for knowing them, and if you can use them in yourself, so much the better. Below are all the standard proverbs used in French, along with English translations and explanations. Use the Search Box at left if you cant't navigate your way to what you want.

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V


beaucoup de bruit pour rien
much ado about nothing (lit.: a lot of noise for nothing; n.b.: from the title of the Shakespearean play)

bien faire et laisser dire
do the work well and let them say what they will (lit.: do well and let others speak; i.e.: one should do one’s work without worrying about critics)

bien mal acquis ne profite jamais
ill gotten, ill spent; ill-gotten gains seldom prosper (lit.: goods badly acquired never benefit [anyone])

bon chien chasse de race
like father, like son (lit.: a good dog hunts by instinct)

bon sang ne peut mentir
blood will out (lit: noble blood cannot lie; i.e.: nobility will not stoop to the indignity of lying; it is unclear here if the nobility refers to a person's character or family lineage)

bon repas doit commencer par la faim
hunger is the best sauce (lit.: a good meal should begin with hunger [i.e.: a desire to eat, not necessarily starvation])

bonne renommée vaut mieux que cienture dorée
a good name is worth more than wealth (lit.: a good reputation is worth more than a golden belt)


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