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Un ange passe

French expressions analyzed and explained

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Expression: Un ange passe

Pronunciation: [oo(n) na(n)zh pas]

Meaning: There's an awkward silence, An awkward silence has fallen over the room

Literal translation: An angel is passing

Register: normal

Notes: The French expression un ange passe is used to describe a sudden, unexpected break in conversation due to some kind of awkwardness or embarrassment. The question is, is the angel the cause or the effect of the silence? On the one hand, maybe the fact that an angel is passing is what causes the conversation to dry up. On the other, it could mean that the angel is aware of the awkwardness and is passing in order to try to smooth it over.

Example
   En annonçant que j'avais perdu mon emploi, un ange est passé.
   When I announced that I'd lost my job, there was an awkward silence.


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