Tous les moyens sont bons.

Tous les moyens sont bons.

too lay mwaah-yaa saw BAW. Click below to hear this. 

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I’m sure you noticed right away the distinct lack of cats in the French phrase for today. As a matter of fact, there are many ways to express this sentiment, and not one of them involves cats.

When I began to wonder how to say this common expression in French, I fell into a fantastic world of almost surrealist discussion. On the various websites I checked, I encountered Italian expressions involving cats for This is a tough nut to crack, descriptions of the gymnastic exercise called skin the cat, and a heated plea for the cessation of animal cruelty in idiomatic expressions.

I also found one equivalent expression in French: Il y a plus d’un moyen de plumer un canard, which means There’s more than one way to pluck a duck, accompanied by protests on the part of other native speakers that they had never heard of it. And the ever-popular but utterly unpicturesque Il y a plus d’un moyen de faire les choses (There’s more than one way to do things). 

So I settled for today’s phrase, which can be translated (awkwardly at best, I admit) as All means are good/valid. Naturally, this was also followed by an intense discussion of the exact implications of the phrase. Could it be The end justifies the means? Must the means be moral and licit, or might they be immoral and/or illicit? What if the means are moral, but the end is not?

Ultimately, I gave up on making any sense out of the discussion and offer you instead this bit of entertainment. Make of it what you will!

Alternate audio file link: tous-les-moyens-sont-bons


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