French Word of the Day: À priori

This French expression might sound strange when you first hear it because it comes straight from Latin. Here we take a look at what à priori really means.

French Word of the Day: À priori
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Why have we chosen à priori?

You'll hear this French expression used in everyday conversation and it's one that's likely to sound particularly strange if you don't already know it. 

You'll also see it used fairly regularly in French headlines. 

What does it mean?

This expression actually has Latin origins and while it is used a lot in French, in English its usage is largely restricted to philosophy and statistics. 

Strictly it means 'in theory' but is used in a variety of contexts which can give the expression slightly different meanings. 

Depending on the context, it can be used to mean 'in principle', 'if everything goes as planned' and 'unless something changes'.

It can also mean 'at first glance' or 'from a quick look' . 

On top of that, it can be used to mean 'prejudice' or 'preconception'. 

If you're in doubt about how to pronounce it, this Youtube video below will help. 


A priori, sa proposition paraît satisfaisante. – In principle, his suggestion seems satisfactory.
Ce biberon semble a priori inoffensif, mais en réalité, il ne l'est pas! – At first glance, this baby's bottle seems harmless, but in reality it is not!
Il a trop d'a priori et manque d'objectivité – He has too many preconceptions and lacks objectivity.
(The above examples are from
Tu dois le rencontrer sans à priori. – You must meet him without set opinions (= with an open mind)

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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.