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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


en avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil
ne’er cast a clout till be May be out (lit.: in April you will not find a line)

en avril, n’ôte pas un fil; en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît
in April, don’t take off your clothes, but in May, do as you please (a commonly cited French belief about the weather)

en tout pays, il y a une lieue de mauvais chemin
there will be bumps on the smoothest roads (lit.: in every region, there is one league of bad road)

entre deux maux, il fault choisir le moindre
choose the lesser of two evils (lit.: between two evils, one must choose the lesser)

entre l’arbre et l’écorce il ne faut pas mettre le doigt
do not meddle in other people’s business (lit.: do not put your finger between a tree and its bark)

erreur n’est pas compte
an error is not an account (i.e.: as long as an error is present, an account is not definitive)


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