Être à côté de la plaque

Être à côté de la plaque
Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Informal French Expression

Meaning to misunderstand, be way off the mark
Literally to be next to the target/goal
Register informal
Pronunciation [eh tra ko tay deu la plahk]
IPA   [ɛ tra ko te də la plak]

Usage notes: The idiomatic French expression être à côté de la plaque means to misunderstand. Une plaque is an all-purpose word for any slab of material, so you can think of it as a bullseye target. When you’re next to the target, you’ve missed your mark.

Par exemple…

Non, ce n’est pas ça. Tu es à côte de la plaque.   No, it’s not that. You’re way off the mark.
J’avais pensé tout comprendre, mais j’étais à côté de la plaque.   I’d thought I understood everything, but I was way off the mark.


  • être complètement à côté de la plaque – to be completely off the mark
  • être un peu à côté de la plaque – to be a little lost, to not quite follow/understand
  • mettre à côté de la plaque – to be way off the mark

 Related lesson

Stay up to date with Lawless French!
Twitter Facebook Quora Instagram Pinterest YouTube RSS Newsletter

Any Questions?

 Get help on the forum.

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.