Word of the Week: ‘on n’a rien sans rien’ 


Word of the Week:

Bonsoir my lovely readers! 

I bring this to you from a hiking holiday in the Lake District (where, true to form, I’ve been doing a lot more eating than hiking! 😆) 

This week, we have ‘on n’a rien sans rien’ – or what I now plan to keep on saying to myself to keep sane in times of stress 👍👍


How to pronounce it:

Ohn nahh ree-ahhn sahn ree-ahhn. 

What it means in English:

Although it literally means ‘you have nothing without nothing’, it’s often translated into English as ‘no pain, no gain.’ 

The joys of working out, according to The Notorious B.I.G….
Where does it come from?

According to Internaute, the expression originated in the fifteenth century. 

And this entry on Wiktionary explains that ‘on n’a rien’ is used to describe a situation where you don’t get anything out of it without putting in effort or making an exchange or a sacrifice. 

This. Maybe. When the thought of these words no longer makes me want to curl up into a ball, comfort-eat chocolate and cry at my lack of motivation.


How to use it in a sentence:

‘Eh bien, j’ai fait deux heures de musculation à la salle de sport aujourd’hui – on n’a rien sans rien !’ 

English translation:

‘I did two hours of bodybuilding at the gym today – no pain, no gain!’ 

Depressingly self-explanatory 😭😭


Similar words:

Qui ne risque rien n’a rien = Nothing ventured, nothing gained (literally, ‘who risks nothing has nothing.’) 

On n’a rien sans effort = Literally, ‘you don’t have anything without effort.’ 

Last but not least… every gym-avoiding excuse you’ve ever heard of all typed up on a poster… aaand in French 😃 (I know, I really am too good to you 😉)


How about you? What are your favourite French words or expressions? Let me know on here 🙂 

And have a look on more Words of the Week with this handy link here.  

Bonne semaine à toutes et à tous ! 😊


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