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vendre la mèche

The French expression “vendre la mèche” translates literally to “to sell the fuse”. English meanings include:

  • to let the cat out of the bag
  • to spill the beans
  • to give the game away

The idea behind the expression is that the fuse on a bomb isn’t supposed to be discovered. A French definition of the expression is “trahir un secret”, which means to give away a secret.

here’s an example sentence:

Nous avons voulu faire une fête-surprise pour l’anniversaire de maman mais Marie lui a vendu la mèche. We wanted to make a surprise birthday party for mom but Marie spilled the beans.

Here are some synonymous expressions for vendre la mèche:

  • cracher le morceau – Literally to spit the piece
  • se mettre à table – Literally to sit down at the table

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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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