Poisson d’avril

Poisson d'avril
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Holiday French Expression

Meaning April fool’s trick
Literally April fish
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [pwah so(n) dah vreel]
IPA   [pwa sɔ̃ da vril]

Usage notes: Poisson d’avril is the French equivalent of April fool’s. In France, the idea is for a kid to attach a paper fish to someone’s back without them noticing right away. Later, when the trick is discovered, the perpetrator gets to yell Poisson d’avril !

For adults, participation typically consists of jokes and humorous or shocking "news."

The RATP (Paris métro operator) has demonstrated tremendous creativity and playfulness in recent years by playing with métro station names. In 2016, they temporarily renamed métro stations, such as Château de sable (Sand castle) for Château d’Eau (Water Tower). The following year, they added text to station names to create jeux de mots like Une Bastille pour la gorge (une pastille = lozenge).

Poisson d’avril origins

The original tradition dates back to 1564, when King Charles IX changed New Year’s Day from early April to the 1st of January. In response, citizens decided to make the 1st of April a day of jokes, tricks, and fake gifts. Source: Histoire du Poisson d’Avril


  • Poisson d’avril ! – April fool’s! I got you!
  • faire un poisson d’avril à quelqu’un – to play an April fool’s trick on someone
  • Tu m’as eu ! – You got / tricked me!

French listening comprehension Audio article: Poisson d’avril

 Themed Quizzes

Test yourself on some French verb conjugations with these themed fill-in-the-blanks exercises:

Poisson d’avril à la LKL

I’ve been known to create some fake news for April fool’s day – take a look:

 Related lessons

French holiday vocabulary

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Poisson d'avril

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