Les sans-dents

Expression dans l’actualité

Meaning the poor
Literally the toothless
Pronunciation French sound files [lay sa(n) da(n)]
IPA   [le sã dã]

Usage notes: Valérie Trierweiler, former girlfriend of François Hollande alleges in her book Merci pour ce moment that the French president despises the poor, and that he privately refers to them as les sans-dents.

Sans-dents literally means "without teeth," of course, but if you consider the usage of dents in other idiomatic expressions, there’s more to it than that:

  • avoir les dents longues – to be ambitious
  • se casser les dents – to suffer a setback

So being toothless in French also implies lacking ambition and being unsuccessful.

Whether Hollande actually says/thinks this or or not is pretty much irrelevant at this point; the shocking expression was immediately picked up by militant groups across the political spectrum. With the help of numerous social media accounts, it seems likely that les sans-dents is here to stay.


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1 Response

  1. Barbara Dunfee 13 September 2014 / 3:45

    This keeps making me thing of Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” — however I suspect that it might refer to the fact that if you are dirt poor you may not have the money to get proper dental care and so eventually you lose all your teeth?

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