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être tiré à quatre épingles

The French expression “être tiré à quatre épingles” to be pulled by four pins”. English meanings include:

  • to be all dressed up
  • to be dressed to the nines

The idea is that when clothes are stretched by pins one looks very sharp. A French definition “être vêtu avec un soin méticuleux”, to be dressed with meticulous care.

Here’s an example sentence:

  • Marc est arrivé a son mariage tiré à quatre épingles: Il était vêtu en constume traditionel japaonais. Tous les invités étaient tellement impressionnés par son costume! Marc arrived at his marriage all dressed up in a traditional Japanese suit. All the guests were so impressed by his suit!

There’s a synonymous expression:

  • se mettre sur son trente et un – to put on your 31

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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