French Word of the Day: À priori

French Word of the Day: À priori
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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.

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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