A priori

A priori, c'est une bonne idée !
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Essential French Expression

Meaningat first sight, in principle; should
Literallyfrom the earlier
PronunciationFrench sound files [ah pree uh ree]
IPA  [a pri jɔ ʁi]

Usage notes: I’ve never heard the Latin phrase a priori in English, though apparently it’s used in philosophy and statistics. But in French, a priori is a common, everyday expression meaning "at first sight" or "in principle."

Par exemple…

A priori, oui. At first sight, yes. My initial response is yes.
A priori, on commence à 19h.  In principle / Normally, we start at 7pm.


  • à première vue – at first sight
  • au début – at first, in the beginning
  • au premier abord – at first sight, initially
  • en principe – in principle

French antonym Antonym: a posteriori – after the event, upon consideration, with hindsight

It’s often more natural to translate a priori somewhat loosely, along the lines of "seems to be" or "should."

Par exemple…

A priori, c’est une bonne idée ! That seems like a good idea!
Le feu, a priori d’origine accidentelle, a pris dans le dépôt. The fire, which seems to have been accidental, began in the warehouse.
A priori, il arrivera vers midi. He should / He’s supposed to arrive around noon.


  • devoir in the conditional – should
  • être censé – to be supposed to
  • normalement – normally, if all goes as expected
  • sembler être – to seem to be

French lesson plans A priori in action

Examples of a priori in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Donc a priori, l’équipe de France, oui, posera un genou à terre So it seems that, yes, the French national team will put a knee down
Video: Kneeling gesture at Euro 2021 sparks controversy
Je vous invite à aller vers l’étranger, l’étrange, celui qui ne vous ressemble pas, a priori, qui est bizarre. I invite you to go to the stranger, the strange one, the one who doesn’t look like you, at first sight, the odd one.
Video: The African kimono

And a priori can mean "without any consideration" or "point blank."

Par exemple…

Il ne faut pas refuser a priori. You shouldn’t refuse without considering it.
Elle a rejeté a priori notre proposition. She rejected our proposal point-blank.


  • à brûle-pourpoint – brusquely
  • catégoriquement – point-blank, categorically
  • de but en blanc – suddenly, just like that
  • en bloc – out of hand, outright
  • nettement – flatly, clearly
  • tout net – flatly, clearly

A priori is also an invariable noun meaning "prejudice" or "bias."

Par exemple…

Les a priori n’ont aucune place dans la justice. Bias has no place in justice.
Considerez les faits sans a priori. Consider the facts with an open mind.


  • un parti pris
  • un penchant
  • un préjugé

More Latin in French: fluctuat nec mergitur

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A priori

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