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un secret de Polichinelle

The French expression “un secret de Polichinelle” translates literally to “the secret of a Polichinelle puppet”.English meanings include:

  • an open secret
  • it’s no secret
  • it’s common knowledge

A French meaning of this idiom is simply “un secret connu de tous”, or a secret known by all. Another French meaning is a “faux secret que tout le monde connaît”, or a false secret that everybody knows.

Here’s an example sentence:

Stanley sort avec son assistante après le travail depuis plus que quatre ans. Il pense que les gens n’en savent guère mais en réalité c’est un secret de Polichinelle. Stanley has been going out with his assistant after work for over four years. He thinks people hardly know about it but in reality it’s an open secret.

There’s one more common French idiom that uses Polichinelle:

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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