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trois pelés et un tondu

The French expression “trois pelés et un tondu” translates literally to “three bald men and one man with a shaven head”. This is a prime example of a French idiom that has a meaning that’s impossible to figure out. Here are several English meanings:

  • hardly anyone
  • one man and his dog offers a useful meaning in French: Very few people; a disappointment in the number of people in attendance compared to the expected number. A French-to-French meaning is “quasiment personne”, when means almost nobody.

Here’s an example sentence:

  • J’ai assisté à une soirée hier mais il n’y avait que trois pelés et un tondu. I attended a party yesterday but there was hardly anyone there.

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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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