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prendre des vessies pour les lanternes

“Prendre des vessies pour les lanternes” is a fascinating French expression that translates literally to: “to mistaken bladders for lanterns”. English meanings include the following:

  • to be taken in
  • to have the wool pulled over your eyes
  • to think the moon is made of cheese

Culturally, pigs’ bladders were used as lanterns in mines. gives an interesting definition in French: “To make grotesque illusions about things and people” and “to fail miserable in one’s assessments”.

Here’s an example sentence:

  • Attention à ne pas prendre des vessies poru les lanternes: les publicités des candidats exagèrent trop la vraie situation politique du pays. Don’t be taken in. The candidates commercials overly exaggerate the country’s true political situation.

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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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