For members


French expression of the day: Rien n’est joué

Politics, sports and even issuing a warning to the kids - this is handy French expression when things are uncertain.

French expression of the day: Rien n'est joué
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Rien n’est joué?

Because you’re going to hear it a lot over the next two weeks. 

What does it mean? 

Rien n’est joué, pronounced ree-en nay joo-ay, literally translates as ‘nothing is played’ but it means ‘nothing is decided’, ‘nothing is guaranteed’ or ‘nothing is set in stone’.

It’s become almost an unofficial catchphrase of Emmanuel Macron’s team, as he faces what is expected to be a very close second round contest with far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

They are using it as a rallying call in a bid to get supporting voters to the polls on April 24th and ensure their candidate wins a second term in office.

It’s not just a political term though, it’s a handy catch-all when your sports team has just fallen behind with 15 minutes to go, or you’re trying to work out permutations for the end-of-season run-in.

Or, you can use it on your children if they are getting on your nerves ahead of a special treat.

Use it like this

Rien est joué et tout reste à faire – Nothing is decided and there’s everything to play for

Rien n’est joué, ne ménageons pas nos efforts d’ici le 24 avril – Nothing is guaranteed, let’s not spare our efforts between now and April 24th

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.