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Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or

French expressions analyzed and explained


Expression: Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or

Pronunciation: [too s(eu) kee breey nay pa uhr] (or [... pa zuhr] - it's an optional liaison)

Meaning: All that glitters isn't gold

Register: normal

Notes: The French proverb tout ce qui brille n'est pas or* is a perfect equivalent of the English proverb "all that glitters isn't gold."

Mon ex-copain m'a fait un prix pour sa voiture, mais elle s'est avérée être une saleté. J'aurais dû savoir : tout ce qui brille n'est pas or.

My ex-boyfriend gave me a good price for his car, but it turned out to be a piece of junk. I should have known - all that glitters isn't gold.

*If you think it should be d'or rather than or, think again. A reader of my site saw that I'd used the expression tout ce qui brille n'est pas or, and asked on the forum whether it should be "tout ce qui brille n'est pas d'or." That's the version the French author of a book on common French mistakes had used, and a French member of the forum agreed that it should be "d'or." However, Le Grand Robert and Le Bon Usage - unarguably two of the very best sources of accurate information about the French language - both use the expression without the preposition d'.

In addition, I think or makes more sense. Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or literally means "all that glitters isn't gold," whereas "tout ce qui brille n'est pas d'or" means "all that glitters isn't made of gold." It's a subtle but important distinction.

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