French Expression of the Day: Tirer au sort

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French Expression of the Day: Tirer au sort
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French expression might be useful if you're trying to get tickets to a major event.


Why do I need to know tirer au sort?

Because a lot of big events go with the 'pull at random' method.

What does it mean?

Tirer au sort roughly pronounced tear-ay oh sorr – is a French expression that combines the verb tirer, which means ‘to pull’, and au sort, which means at random. Thus, it means to ‘pull at random’.

This is the expression used to describe a random draw or lottery, like one you might use to decide who gets tickets to a certain event. If you're talking about a draw, you will see it written as un tirage au sort.


This phrase has been in use in France for centuries - it was most commonly employed in the 1800s when discussing random conscription into the military. 

Most recently, a lot of people in France have been talking about one tirage au sort in particular - the random draw for tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

If you are looking for another way to say ‘to choose at random’ in French, you could also try choisir au hasard.

Use it like this

Il choisira les joueurs par tirage au sort. – He will pick the players by random draw.

Les soldats étaient tirés au sort pour partir au combat. – The soldiers were chosen randomly to go to battle.


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