N’importe quoi

N'importe quoi !
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Essential French Expression

Meaning anything, nonsense, whatever
Literally no matter what
Register normal, informal
Pronunciation French sound files [neh(n) puhr t(eu) kwah]
IPA   [nɛ̃ pɔʀtə kwa]

Usage notes: Once you learn the French expression n’importe quoi, you’ll quickly find that it’s essential. You probably already know the original meaning,* which is simply "anything":

Par exemple…

Il fera tout et n’importe quoi.   He’ll do anything and everything.
N’importe quoi plutôt que ça !   Anything but that!

But the fun and incredibly useful expression is informal and means "nonsense" or "rubbish."

Par exemple…

Mais tu dis n’importe quoi !   You’re talking nonsense / rubbish!
C’est (du) n’importe quoi !   That’s nonsense / rubbish!

Variations

  • N’importe quoi
  • C’est n’importe quoi
  • C’est du n’importe quoi
  • C’est du grand n’importe quoi

Other possible translations

  • That’s ridiculous!
  • What on Earth are you going on about?!
  • What the heck are you talking about?!

Also, while n’importe quoi isn’t quite the same as the dismissive "whatever!", it’s the closest French equivalent I’ve found.

 N’importe quoi is part of the motto of the French prankster and video maker N’importe qui (né Rémi Gaillard).

C’est en faisant n’importe quoi, qu’on devient n’importe qui !

(alternatively: C’est en faisant n’importe quoi, que l’on** devient n’importe qui !)

Literally “It’s by doing nonsensical things that you become nonsensical” but perhaps better translated as “It’s by doing anything that you become anyone." This is a play on his stage name as well as on the French proverb C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron:

  • Literally, "It’s by forging that one becomes a blacksmith"
  • Idiomatically, "Practice makes perfect"

French lesson plans N’importe quoi in action

Examples of n’importe quoi in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Mais Madame Le Pen vous dites n’importe quoi.   But Madame Le Pen you’re saying nonsense.
Video: Presidential fist fight: two minute Le Pen-Macron summary
     
N’importe quoi Cyprien  !   Of course not Cyprien!
Video: French Youtuber Cyprien on Hollande
     
… il a abandonné la physique en se disant « C’est n’importe quoi. »   … he abandoned physics, thinking it was nonsense.
Video: Exploring parallel universes

 Related lessons

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N'importe quoi

 

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