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faire un tabac

The meaning of the French expression “faire un tabac” is impossible to guess in English. While “tabac” means tobacco, it can also mean a big hit or success. Hence, “faire un tabac” has the following meanings:

  • to be a big hit
  • to be a great success
  • to bring the house down
  • to make a splash

According to, a French definition for “faire un tabac” is simply “avoir un grand succès”, to have a big success.

Here’s an example sentence:

Le nouveau film a fait un tabac aux Etats-Unis mais malheureusement il n’etait pas bien bien accueilli dans le marché chinois. The movie was a big hit in the United States but unfortunately it was not well received in the Chinese market.

Synonym expressions:

  • casser la baraque – Literally “to break the house”
  • faire un carton – Literally “to make a box”; box is slang for success”
  • rencontrer un franc succès – Literally “to make an honest success”
  • faire un malheur – Literally “to make a misfortune”
  • rencontrer un vif succès – Literally “to meet a lively success”

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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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