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French Expression of the Day: Mon oeil

French Expression of the Day: Mon oeil
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Have you noticed French people pulling down their eyelid when they talk to you? Here's why.

Why do I need to know the expression mon oeil? 

Because we all know someone who is not 100 percent reliable with the truth. 

What does it mean? 

It literally means ‘my eye’. But the reality, mon oeil (pronounced ‘mon oi’) is something you say when you think someone is lying to you or exaggerating a story – it’s used in the same way as the phrase in English, but is more common in France.

It derives from the 14th century expression, il n’y en a pas plus que mon oeil which translates roughly as ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’

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You may see French people taking an index finger to pull down their lower eyelid, while tilting their head towards you to display the eyeball. This gesture is the physical equivalent of saying Mon oeil. This gesture is also used in other countries such as Turkey and Israel to convey the same meaning of disbelief. 

In other Mediterranean cultures, the eyelid pull is used as a silent warning to stay alert, while in Japan, this so-called Akanbe (あかんべえ) is used to indicate sarcasm or as a taunt. 

Use it like this:

Toi, tu apprends le français depuis deux mois ? Mon œil !  – You have been learning French for two months? Yeah, right!

T’es allé à l’école avec Kylian Mbappé ? Mon oeil ! – You went to school with Kylian Mbappé? Bullshit! 

Synonyms 

Tu parles – You’re all talk

Je te crois pas – I don’t believe you

C’est du bla bla – That’s nonsense 

Mes couilles – My balls (yeah right)

Mon cul – My arse (yeah right) 


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