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The French saying "Aux grands maux les grands remèdes"

You are going to learn all the things you have to know about the inspirational French saying "Aux grands maux les grands remèdes". This include a detailed guide of what it mean and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. Not to mention the cool informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, synonym, dialogue example and more!

French to English translation

  • Translation : Desperate times call for desperate measures

  • Literal meaning : To big evils, big remedies

  • Register : Neutral - Inspirational

Audio pronunciation



  • IPA : / o ɡʁɑ̃ mo le ɡʁɑ̃ ʁəmɛd. /

aesthetic french quote aux grands maux les grands remedes

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What does it mean?


Let's dig into the sentence: "grands maux" literally means "big evils" and use the plural form of the word "mal". We can translate this word as "evil", "bad" or even "wrong" depending on the context.

Here the meaning is even wider though, allowing "maux" to refer to any problems. (Because problems are… bad).

In the second part we have "grands remèdes" which means "big remedies". And those sentences are getting connected with the word "aux" which means "to" here. So, we have: "To great evils, great remedies".

How to use

This proverb means that we should not be afraid to use an extreme remedy when we face an extremely important problem.

Let's imagine a conversation with someone shocked about a decision. Then you could say: "Aux grands maux les grands remèdes" to express "It might seem extreme, but this is necessary".

Another usage would be to encourage someone unhappy about something to take a bold decision. In this case, the proverb would mean "If you really want things to change, make a bold move!".

Because sometimes little steps aren't enough and what we need is a "big remedy" (a "big decision" in this case).

In fact, this saying is broad enough so you can use it on many occasions. No matter if the conversation is about politics, ecology, education, social issues, personal development… you can use it either to justify a bold decision or to encourage one.

Long story short: a powerful, wise and popular expression that will make you sound like a true French!

Fun stuff

Wonder the origin of this proverb? Want to be cool at parties? You can drop that this saying is coming from the Latin "Extremis malis extrema remedia". Wow effect 100% guarantee.

Synonyms / Related

Sometimes you can also find the variation "Aux grands maux les grands moyens" which is similar. The only change is "remèdes" replaced by "moyens" that we can translate as "resources".

Example in a dialogue with French audio


Pourquoi il a quitté son travail ?

Why did he quit his job?

Il n'était pas heureux du tout

He was not happy at all

Je vois, aux grands maux les grands remèdes.

I see, to the great evils great remedies.

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Les grands esprits se rencontrent


To vocabulary list


Mieux vaut être seul que mal accompagné