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The French saying "Les grands esprits se rencontrent"

Get prepared to learn all the things you have to know about the inspirational French proverb "Les grands esprits se rencontrent". To be clear, it includes a complete explanation of what it mean and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. Not to mention the useful things we added like dialogue example, synonyms, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Translation in English

  • Translation : Great minds think alike

  • Literal meaning : Great spirits meet each other

  • Register : Neutral - Inspirational

How to pronounce?



  • IPA : / le ɡʁɑ̃z‿ ɛspʁi sə ʁɑ̃kɔ̃tʁ /

aesthetic french quote grands esprits se rencontrent

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What does it mean?


It literally means:

This French proverb is taken from a Voltaire's letter in the 18th century. Its authentic formula was "Les beaux esprits se rencontrent" → "Beautiful spirits meet each other".

The word "Esprit" (Spirit) refers to a person and expresses the idea that smart people always find each other, like magnets. It's used often with irony and humor when two people have the same idea simultaneously.

There is a similar proverb in English: "Great minds think alike".

How to use it

Whenever you have the same thought/idea as someone you are talking with, you can say ironically: "Les grands esprits se rencontrent". It implies that if you are both having this idea, the only explanation is that you are both "great minds".

You can also use it more formally when having a very advanced/philosophical/interesting conversation with someone and want to show how much you enjoy it. In this case, the proverb is a true compliment to your interlocutor for his/her intelligence (and to yourself indirectly, because you are smart enough to be a part of the conversation).


Example in a dialogue with audio


Toi aussi tu as un prix Nobel ?

You won a Nobel prize too?



Les grands esprits se rencontrent !

Great spirits meet each other!

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Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières


To vocabulary list


Aux grands maux les grands remèdes