Word of the Week: ‘appeler un chat un chat’

Today, I’ve decided to look at the French translation of ‘to call a spade a spade’ – mostly because it gives me the chance to go a bit overboard with cat photos. 

Hope you like this week’s mot de la semaine!

And as always, if you’ve enjoyed reading it, please feel free to share this on your email and social networks – and to leave a comment below to let you know what you think! 

What are your favourite French words? 

Word of the Week:

‘Appeler un chat un chat’. 

Gratuitous cat photo #1: my cat preparing for her future modelling career.

How to pronounce it:

‘Ah-puh-lay uhn shah uhn shah’. 

What it means in English:

This means ‘to call a spade a spade’, although it would literally be translated into English as ‘to call a cat a cat’ (which I prefer!) 

Cat number 2 also getting ready for his modelling début.
Where does it come from?

The expression apparently comes from Ancient Greek, and seems to be connected to their sayings ‘to call a fig a fig’, and ‘to call a boat a boat’. Read more about the expression in French here

How to use it in a sentence:

‘Il faut appeler un chat un chat, cette idée ne marchera jamais.’  

Spending some quality time with the furry residents of the cat café in Shoreditch 😻

English translation:

‘You’ve got to call a spade a spade, that idea will never work.’  

Similar words:

Être direct = To be direct 

Parler franchement = To speak frankly 

Aller droit au but = To get straight to the point 

Ne pas tourner autour du pot = To not beat around the bush. 

Photo credit: Swapbook (via Twitter)


If you’ve enjoyed reading this, why not check out my previous Word of the Week and language posts here

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