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N'importe quoi

French expressions analyzed and explained

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Expression: N'importe quoi

Pronunciation: [neh(n) puhr t(eu) kwa]

Meaning: anything / nonsense, whatever

Literal translation: no matter what

Register: normal / informal

Notes: The French expression n'importe quoi has a few different uses. Normally it means "anything," as in je ferais n'importe quoi pour gagner - "I'd do anything to win."

Informally, N'importe quoi ! or C'est du n'importe quoi ! means "Nonsense!" (US) or "Rubbish!" (UK) Another possible translation is "What the heck are you talking about?!"

Though not a perfect equivalent, n'importe quoi is also the best translation I've found for "whatever!", the (primarily) adolescent expression of dismissal.

Examples

   Ce magasin vend tout et n'importe quoi.
   This store sells anything and everything.

   N'écoute pas Philippe - il dit n'importe quoi.
   Don't listen to Philippe - he's talking nonsense.

Related: C'est en faisant n'importe quoi, qu'on devient n'importe qui !  (or ...que l'on devient...)

This expression, literally "It's by doing nonsensical things that you become nonsensical" but perhaps better expressed as "It's by doing anything that you become anyone," is the motto of the French prankster and video maker Rémi Gaillard, aka N'importe qui. It's a play on the French proverb C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron (Practice makes perfect, literally "It's by forging that one becomes a blacksmith.")


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