The French saying "C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron"

On this page, we are going to explain you everything you ever wanted to know about the inspirational French proverb “C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron”.

It includes a detailed explanation of what it mean and how to use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. Along with the useful things we sprinkled like synonym, slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

Oh and if you are interested, on this page you will find our others proverbs explained plus all our French words pages on this page. Ready to learn? Let’s go!

Table of Contents

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English translation

How to pronounce it

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?

Definition

  • C’est en forgeant → It’s by forging
  • Qu’on devient → That one becomes
  • Forgeron → A blacksmith

If I give you the world’s most complete encyclopedia about how to become a blacksmith. If you study it intensely for years. You will know a lot of things about how to forge a sword for sure.

But would you be able the run into the forge and actually forge something?

Very (very) unlikely.

Imagine how many times a novice blacksmith has to hit the iron with his hammer, imagine the long hours in the heat he has to endure before becoming a blacksmith. Not even speaking of the plentiful times he will fail to do something looking like a decent sword.

If we could ask an old (French) blacksmith the secret recipe of how to become a good blacksmith, he would probably say: “C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron” (It’s by forging that one becomes a blacksmith).

English language has a similar proverb which is an excellent summary of the moral here: “Practice makes perfect“.

And it works with everything, for example: you can spend years reading about how to learn French. But it’s only the day you will practice for real by following a tailored French course that you will become fluent.

How to use

Many people focus too much on theory and not enough on practice, causing procrastination and preventing them to achieve their goals. 

In case you are talking with someone in this situation, you can help them by talking about this proverb and the blacksmith’s story. This is also a way to encourage failure, because only through that we can achieve greatness.

Fun facts

This saying is from Comenius and appeared during the 15th century.

Synonyms

C’est en forgeant que l’on devient forgeron. (“Que l’on” is the full version of “Qu’on” but we skip it most of the time.)

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Je danse vraiment mal, comment progresser ? “
” I’m a very bad dancer, how to make progress? “
” C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron. “
” It’s by forging that one becomes a blacksmith. “
” Alors je vais danser, encore et encore ! “
” Then I’m going to dance again and again! “
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