Tout ce qui brille n’est pas or

Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or
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French Proverb

Meaning All that glitters isn’t gold
Literally All that shines isn’t gold
Register normal
French pronunciation [too s(eu) kee breey nay pah uhr]
(or [pah zuhr] – the liaison is optional)
IPA [tu s(ə) ki brij ne pa ɔʀ]  (or [pa zɔʀ])

Usage notes: Tout ce qui brille n’est pas or is one of the rare French proverbs with a near-perfect English equivalent: "All that glitters isn’t gold." It’s used in both languages to indicate that something which seemed wonderful turned out to be not so great after all.

Par exemple…

J’ai déménagé après avoir entendu parler de beaucoup d’emplois ici, mais je ne peux rien trouver. Tout ce qui brille n’est pas or.

I moved after hearing about lots of good jobs here, but I can’t find anything. All that glitters isn’t gold.

  Erreur ?

Some French speakers insist that the correct expression is tout ce qui brille n’est pas d’or, literally, "all that glitters isn’t made of gold." However, Le grand Robert and Le bon usage, the bibles of French vocabulary and grammar, respectively, both say tout ce qui brille n’est pas or. So if you disagree with my lesson, you’ll have to take it up with them.  🙂

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Tout ce qui brille n'est pas or

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5 Responses

  1. Sue 8 August 2014 / 15:21

    The original phrase comes from The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare:-

    “All that glisters is not gold.”

    We Shakespeare purists get annoyed when people insist on the incorrect English word “glitters.” It doesn’t matter really except to a lover of the great man, albeit that it’s good to know that the French have taken it up from us!! However if we are looking for perfection then just as well to get the original Shakespeare correct in the first place. :))

    • William 8 August 2014 / 18:05

      To the purist: Who, nowadays, goes around speaking Shakespearian English? People have been saying “glitters” for hundreds of years. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

      • Verbois 9 August 2014 / 11:58

        Pour trouver une version antérieure à la plume de Shakespeare, il faut remonter au Roman de Renart. Qui, lui-même, l’emprunte à la nuit des temps.

  2. Tom Church 8 August 2014 / 13:00

    Question: why the relative pronoun ce qui? Why not just “tout qui brille…. ?

    • lkl 8 August 2014 / 13:56

      Tout is an indefinite pronoun, which means it can’t be followed by a normal relative pronoun like qui. Instead, it must be followed by an indirect relative pronoun, ce qui.

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