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Appeler un chat un chat

French expressions analyzed and explained


Expression: Appeler un chat un chat

Pronunciation: [ah peu lay oo(n) shah oo(n) shah]

Meaning: to call a spade a spade, to be honest and frank, to tell it like it is

Literal translation: to call a cat a cat

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Notes: The French expression appeler un chat un chat is just like its English equivalent "to call a spade a spade," other than the obvious different noun used in each language. Either way, it simply means to talk about something honestly and frankly while avoiding euphemisms and not worrying about uncomfortable topics.

   Je n'ai pas été licencié - j'ai été renvoyé. Appelons un chat un chat !
   I wasn't laid off (made redundant) - I was fired. Let's be honest about it!

(In the US, "to call a spade a spade" tends to be avoided due to the fact that "spade" is a racist slur; however, the expression predates the first usage of the word used in that sense.)

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