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French expression ‘Se mettre sur son 31’ explained

by | Dec 30, 2022

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It’s time for the weekly post to help you to improve your French!

Bonjour à tous (hello everyone)!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. Now, it is time to think of New Year’s Eve. So, I chose an expression that we use very often for this occasion: ‘Se mettre sur son 31’.

The closest translation in English is ‘To be dressed up to the nines’

Why do we use the expression ‘Se mettre sur son 31’?

The first and most common theory is that this expression comes from a distortion of the word ‘trentain’.

Which represented a very refined cloth used in the Middle Ages. Made up of thirty times a hundred threads and intended for luxury clothing.

As trentain was only worn by wealthy people, the fabric was not well known to the rest of the population. Who would have distorted its name by pronouncing it ‘trente-et-un’ – which means the number thirty one.

At the time, ‘se mettre sur’ meant ‘to put on oneself’. This is how the popular expression ‘to dress up’ came about. Meaning ‘to get ready for a special occasion’.

Et vous, allez-vous vous mettre sur votre 31 demain soir? J’attends vos réponses 🥳🍾

Céline Prodhomme

Céline Prodhomme

Hi, I’m Céline Prodhomme and originally from Normandy in France! After having worked as a project manager for 24 years at an American Corporate organisation, I decided to follow my passion – helping you not only learn to speak French but also understand the culture 🙂

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