Être à côté de la plaque

Être à côté de la plaque
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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

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Il est à côté de la plaque

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