Passer du coq à l’âne

Passer du coq à l'âne
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French Expression

Meaning to suddenly change the subject, jump between subjects, make a non sequitur
Literally to pass from the rooster to the donkey
Register normal
Pronunciation [pah say du kuh kah lahn]
IPA   [pa se dy kɔ ka lan]

Usage notes: What do roosters have in common with donkeys? Not a whole lot, which is why passer du coq à l’âne means "to change the subject."

Par exemple…

On parlait de l’économie quand il est passé du coq à l’âne pour me demander si j’étais mariée.
We were talking about the economy when he suddenly changed the subject and asked if I was married.


  • sauter du coq à l’âne – literally, “to jump from the rooster to the donkey”
  • faire un coq-à-l’âne – literally, “to do/make a rooster-to-donkey”

Related: un coq-à-l’âne – abrupt change of subject, non sequitur

Synonymous expressions

  • changer de disque (informal)
  • changer de sujet
  • détourner la conversation
  • sauter (sans transition) d’un sujet à un autre

Opposite expression: revenons à nos moutons

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3 Responses

  1. Bud Savoie 5 September 2014 / 15:07

    Seems to refer to the folk tale of the Animals of Bremen. The four animals were the donkey, the dog, the cat, and the cock.

    • lkl 5 September 2014 / 16:12

      Perhaps, but the two animals in the middle have nothing to do with the French expression. I just chose this image because it was all I could fine with a rooster and a donkey. 🙂

      • Bud Savoie 9 September 2014 / 8:57

        Right; but assuming that the folk tale is well known in France, it would explain why going from the cock to the donkey is missing connecting steps. Just offering a possible explanation. Is there a French tale featuring these animals?

        Bud Savoie