Je le dis sans arrière-pensées.
zhuhl dee sah zaa-reeAIR pah-SAY. Click below to hear this.
I say it without ulterior motives.
Whatever it is that I am saying here (feel free to make it up for yourself), my motives are pure and transparent. No hidden agenda, no ulterior motives, no reservations. I am telling it as it is.
Since arrière means back, backwards, behind, and other synonyms, you might imagine that an arrière-pensée is an afterthought. Not so. That would be une pensée après coup, a thought after the fact.
I suspect that the image behind une arrière-pensée (yes, the pun is intended!) is that you have a thought behind the conversation, or even in the back of your brain. You may not even be aware of it yourself, until someone calls you on it.
The other meaning of arrière-pensée is reservations. No, not for the restaurant. It’s the hesitation you feel about doing something, when you have a feeling that something isn’t quite right about it. You may well accept someone else’s plan or idea, but stipulate J’ai des arrière-pensées là-dessus, quand même (I have some reservations about it, all the same). And by next morning, you may be emailing about your pensée après coup. That’s where you change your mind and retract your approval of the plan.
Alternate audio file link: sans-arriere-pensees