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il n’a pas inventé la poudre

“Il n’a pas inventé la poudre” is a French expression that translates literally to “He didn’t invent gunpowder”.

English meaning:

  • He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed
  • He’s not the brightest bulb in the box
  • He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer

A French meaning is simply: “être un peu bête”, to be a bit stupid.

Example sentence:

Thomas n’a pas inventé la poudre mais aujourd’hui il etonne tout le monde: Il est devenu tres riche dans ses affaires. Thomas isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but he surprised everybody: He became very rich in his business.

Synonymous expressions:

  • Il n’a pas inventé le file a couper le beurre – Lit: He didn’t invent the butter cutting wire.
  • Il n’a pas inventé l’eau chaude – Lit: He didn’t invent hot water.

more French expressions

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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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