Poirot French Phrases: Popular French in Agatha Christie's Poirot translated

Agatha Christie’s most famous detective Hercule Poirot often speaks in French and regularly makes utterances in his mother tongue. This is generally when:

  • Poirot is making an exclamation after a shock – something he has realised or just learnt – ‘mille tornners!’
  • Is showing sympathy towards someone – ‘pouvre petit’
  • Speaking casually to a friend – ‘mon amie!’

Often, we are able to translate the common Poirot French phrases with some basic French we remember from school or gain an understanding from the wider context of the narrative to follow along and keep up with the plot but it can be frustrating if you don’t know the meaning or want to translate these to have to look them up. 

For this reason, I have created the following ‘crib sheet’ for those wanting to understand every single word Dame Agatha Christie took the trouble to write. We shouldn’t just skip sections written in italics so I hope the below list of the most commonly used French phrases as helpful. I am aware that increasingly, children learn Spanish rather than French in schools these days and so thought this would prove useful to those younger audiences who are picking up their first Poirot novel and whom we don’t want to be deterred from enjoying the wonderful world of Agatha Christie just because of a bit of French. 

Now, I am by no means a language expert, indeed I rely on my GCSE French to get by with most of the Poirot novels so please don’t take all these as perfect, grammatically correct translations – I have literally just plugged these into Google translate and done my best to keep the context close to the narrative so I’m sure there will be detailed errors, but I hope you can get enough accuracy from the translations below for it to be useful – at least it saves you the trouble of having to look them all up individually too! 

If you want more specific translations for the individual novels, I am also compiling a complete series to list out all the translations for each Poirot novel, chapter by chapter – you can find those here or by clicking on the specific novels below.


Your Pocketbook Guides to Translations in Agatha Christie's Poirot Novels

The Mystery of the Blue Train

All the translations from French to English from the Novel the Mystery of the Blue Train

Dead Man's Folly

French to English translations from Dead Man's Folly - chapter by chapter.

Death on the Nile

Chapter by chapter translations from Death on the Nile - French and German phrases translated.

Peril at End House

French translations for the Poirot Novel Peril at end house, chapter by chapter.

Poirot Common French Phrases

Common French Phrases from Agatha Christie's Poirot Novels Translated

Below are a few of the most commonly used French words and phrases used throughout the novels as well as some details of their origins and first uses. Consider this your Poirot French cheat-sheet: 

Poirot French Phrases


Ah, non! – No way!

Ah, vraiment! – Really! or ‘Indeed!

Attendez – Wait

Au reviour – Goodbye


Bien – Ok or good/ fine

bien entendu – Of course

bon Dieu! – Good God!

Bonne nuit – Goodnight


Calmez vous – calm yourself

c’est entendu – It’s heard

C’est vrai – That is true

Cherchez la femme – Look for the woman. This is a commonly used phrase and often means that a woman is at the root of the problem. It is thought that this phrase was first coined by the author Alexander Dumas in his novel ‘The Mpohicans of Paris’. 

Cette pauvre – Poor thing, this poor…

Comment? – how?

Crime passionelle – A crime of passion


Ecoutez – Listen

Eh bien… – Well…

empressement – eagerness

Enchante – Nice to meet you, how do you do

Enfant – children/ child

Entre nous – Just between us

Évidemment – Evidently  


Jeune fille – Young lady

La toilette – usually Poirot is referring to ‘refreshing’ his moustaches or tending to his appearance

Ma foi! – Well!

Mille tonnerres – a term for annoyance such as ‘blast!’ or ‘’confound it!’. Tonnerres is thunder so literally this means ‘a thousand thunders!’

Mais oui! – But yes!

Marveille – Wonderful

Mesdames et Messieurs – Ladies and Gentlemen

Mon Dieu! – My God!

Mon estomac – my stomach! A common phrase utteres by Poirot whenever faced with the idea of a sea voyage or flight.

Mon vieux – my old friend

N’est-ce pas – Is it not so, that’s not right

Nom d’un nom d’un nom! – Generally, this is ‘Oh my goodness!’ something is unbelievable.

Strictly translated this actually means ‘name of a name of a name!’ – ‘Nom de nom’ is originally taken from ‘Nom de Dieu’ as a slightly more polite amendment. ‘Nom de Dieu’ means ‘In the name of God’. Poirot repeats the phrase a second time to be ‘name of a name of a name!’. A modern equivalent is where many say ‘Oh my god!’ others prefer to say ‘Oh my goodness!’. If adding a third part you could say’ Oh my goodness gracious!’

Parbleu – Good lord – an old fashioned French saying

Pardon – Excuse me, sorry

Parfaitement – Perfcetly

Pauvre petite – Poor little one

Peut-etre – Perhaps

Précisément – Precisely

Quelle idée! – what an idea!

Sacre – sacred – often used as in ‘oh lord’

Sacre tonnerre – Sacred thunder! An exclamation such as ‘By Jove!’ Jove (Jupitor) was the Roman god of the sky and thunder which could be where this derives from.

Sapristi – By Jove!

Tendresse – tenderness

Tiens! – Here!

Tisane – Herbal tea

Tout d’un coup – All of a sudden

La toilette – usually Poirot is referring to ‘refreshing’ his moustaches or tending to his appearance

Tres bien – Well done

Voila! – There!

Vraiment – True!

Zut! – Damn!

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