A priori

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

Meaning at first sight, in principle; should
Literally from the earlier
Register normal
Pronunciation [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.

Synonyms

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

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.

Synonyms

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

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.

Synonyms

  • 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.

Synonyms

  • un parti pris
  • un penchant
  • un préjugé

More Latin in French: fluctuat nec mergitur
 

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A priori
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