l’habit ne fait pas le moine

The French expression “l’habit ne fait pas le moine” translates literally to “the clothing doesn’t make the monk”. This is a very insightful idiom with the following meaning in English:

  • you can’t judge a book by its cover
  • appearances can be deceiving

Here’s an example sentence:

Cet homme parraît très sympathique et généreux mais en réalité il est égoïste et malheureux. N’oublie pas: l’habit ne fait pas le moine. This man appears to be very nice and generous but in reality he’s selfish and unhappy. Don’t forget: you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

There are two other expressions for “don’t judge a book by its cover:

  • il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences – Literally: One must not trust appearances
  • les apparences sont souvent trompeuses  – Literally: Appearances can be deceiving

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!