For members


French Expression of the Day: Il n’y a pas mort d’homme

This might come in handy if you're listening to someone endlessly complaining or moaning.

French expression of the day: Il n'y a pas mort d'homme
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know il n’y a pas mort d’homme?

Because some people love to make things out to be worse than they are. 

What does it mean?

It is a way of saying ‘it is not so bad’ or ‘it is not the end of the world’. 

It is an expression that you would use when you feel someone is exaggerating the severity of a situation. 

Il n’y a pas mort d’homme is pronounced: ‘eel knee yah pah more dom’ and literally translates as ‘no-one has died’.

A new podcast titled Y’a pas mort d’homme, has explored sexism in the world of French politics. The title is a riff on the expression’s literal meaning: ‘no man has died’.

READ ALSO Why has there never been a female president of France?

The first programme features an interview with the first – and only – female Prime Minister of France, Edith Cresson. She gives a harrowing account of her time in office and the resistance she ran into as a woman. If you haven’t listened already, it is well worth your time. 

Use it like this

L’équipe de France a perdu le match, mais il n’y a pas mort d’homme – The French team lost, but it is not the end of the world

On est en retard, mais il n’y a pas mort d’homme – We are running late but it is not a disaster 

Certes, il n’y a pas mort d’homme – For sure, it is not so bad


Il n’y a pas là de quoi fouetter un chat (literal meaning: there is nothing worth whipping a cat for) 

Ce n’est pas la mort du petit cheval (literal meaning: it is not the death of the little horse)

Ce n’est pas si grave 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Les plus modestes

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with provocative dress or bragging about your achievements.

French Expression of the Day: Les plus modestes

Why do I need to know les plus modestes ?

Because you might want to understand why “the most modest” are always called out in government announcements and in articles

What does it mean?

Les plus modestes – roughly pronounced lay ploos moe-dests – literally translates to “the most modest.” 

At first glance, this phrase in French might be misleading for anglophones because “modest” is a bit of a false-friend.

In English, one might think of a Jane Austen character who is very respectable and never shows too much skin, or perhaps just someone who is very self-deprecating about their own achievements.

But in the French phrase, les plus modestes means people who are on low incomes or generally don’t have much money.

You might also see the phrase “les ménages modestes” (low-income households). 

You will often hear this term when the French government or press are discussing subsidy plans or budgeting efforts to assist low-income families.

It’s different to les plus fragiles – which is also often used in government announcements but refers to people who vulnerable for health reasons, such as the elderly or people with long-term medical conditions.

Use it like this

Pour protéger les plus modestes, le gouvernement a annoncé une subvention spécifique pour aider à payer l’énergie. – To protect the most vulnerable households, the government has announced a specific subsidy to help pay for energy.

Même avec les interventions du gouvernement, l’inflation touchera surtout les plus modestes. – Even with government interventions, inflation will impact low-income households the most.