être à côté de la plaque

The French expression “être à côté de la plaque” translates literally to “to be on the side of the target”. The idiom in particular has several English meanings:

  • to be clueless
  • to be wide off the mark
  • to be incorrect, inaccurate
  • to be off the beam
  • to be completely mistaken
  • to miss the point completely

Here’s an example sentence:

Marc travaille dans la finance depuis trois ans mais il ne comprend pas du tout ce qui se passe dans les marchés financiers. Il est vraiment à côté de la plaque. Mark has been working in finance for three years but he doesn’t understand what’s happening in the financial markets at all. He’s really clueless.

more French expressions

Sign Up For A FREE Trial French Lesson On Skype And Get Instant Access To My French Pronunciation Crash Course.

Get the French Pronunciation Crash Course!