au nez et à la barbe de quelqu’un

The French expression “au nez et à la barbe de quelqu’un” translates literally to “at somebody’s nose and beard”. Barbe (f) means beard. Here are the expressions English meanings:

  • right under somebody’s nose
  • right in front of somebody’s eyes

French meanings include “en présence et en dépit de quelqu’un” (in somebody’s presence at at their chagrin).

Here’s an example sentence:

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  • Le prisonnier s’est échappé au nez et à la barbe des gardiens en se déguisant en employé. The prisoner escaped right under the guards’ nose by disguising himself as an employee.
  • Le voleur a volé le tableau au nez et à la barbe des gardiens. The thief stole the painting right under the guards’ noses.

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