Plus ça change

French expressions analyzed and explained

clouds shaped like sad face
Deborah Harrison/Getty Images

Expression: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Pronunciation: [plu sa sha(n)zh plu say la mem shoz]

Meaning: the more things change, the more they stay the same

Literal translation: more it changes, more it's the same thing

Register: normal

Notes: The pessimistic French expression plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose is very often cut down to just the first clause: plus ça change... / "the more things change..." The shortened French expression is often used in English too, particularly British English.

In either language, plus ça change indicates a certain disillusionment or resignation regarding whatever is being talked about. A company makes all kinds of policy changes, for example, but the personnel issues are unaffected. A couple go to marriage counseling, but continue fighting about everything. A new sheriff comes to town, but there is no noticeable impact on crime. New people, new promises, but the same old problems - plus ça change....

   Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil - The more it changes, the more it's the same

   Plus ça change (et) moins ça change - The more it changes (and) the less it changes