Ce n'est pas terrible

French expressions analyzed and explained

Man, raising eyebrows, holding up palms, portrait
PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini / Getty Images

Expression: Ce n'est pas terrible

Pronunciation: [seu nay pah tay reebl]

Meaning: it's not that great

Register: informal


The French expression ce n'est pas terrible is a weird one, because the word terrible is a semi-faux ami par excellence, as it can mean either "terrible" or "terrific." Yes, it's true—if someone says c'est terrible ! they might mean "it's great!" or they might mean "it's awful!"

In the negative, ironically, terrible is usually positive, so ce n'est pas terrible (or, more familiarly, c'est pas terrible) most commonly means "it's not so great, it's nothing special."


   Georges adore ce vin, mais à mon avis, ce n'est pas terrible.

   Georges loves this wine, but I don't think it's that great.


   - Qu'est-ce que tu as pensé de ce film ? - Pas terrible.

   - What did you think of that movie? - (It was) nothing special.


mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "Ce n'est pas terrible." ThoughtCo, Oct. 23, 2017, thoughtco.com/ce-nest-pas-terrible-1371144. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, October 23). Ce n'est pas terrible. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ce-nest-pas-terrible-1371144 Lawless, Laura K. "Ce n'est pas terrible." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ce-nest-pas-terrible-1371144 (accessed January 22, 2018).