The French expression "J'ai une mémoire d'éléphant" explained

Get prepared to discover everything you need to know about the funny French expression “J’ai une mémoire d’éléphant”.

Are included a full guide of what it is and how to use it in a dialogue with an audio example. And because we care about you, we also sprinkled useful things like slow pronunciation audio, synonyms, dialogue example and more!

Oh and before I forget, you will also find more of these expressions explained on this page and the complete directory of all our French words guides on this page. Happy learning!

Table of Contents

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Translation in English

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?

Definition

The literal meaning is:

  • J’ai → I have
  • une → a
  • mémoire → memory
  • d’éléphant→ of an elephant

 

This popular expression basically means “To have an excellent memory“. But what’s the link with elephants?

Well, elephants are known to have a very good memory. They can travel very long distances and then remember them. They are also able to recognize human beings and remember years later people who mistreat them.

How to use

If you want to brag about your incredible memory, use: “J’ai une mémoire d’éléphant” (I have an elephant’s memory). But if you want to make a compliment to someone with an amazing memory, use instead: “Tu as une mémoire d’éléphant” (You have an elephant’s memory).

Fun fact

Looking for the antonym of this expression? We have it too! And it’s: “Avoir une mémoire de poisson rouge” → To have a goldfish’s memory.

It refers to a goldfish because a common cliché says they have only a few seconds of memory, which had been proved false but the cliché remains… what an injustice!

Synonyms

  • Avoir une mémoire d’éléphant → To have an elephant’s memory (Infinitive)
  • Tu as une mémoire d’éléphant → You have an elephant’s memory
  • Vous avez une mémoire d’éléphant → You have an elephant’s memory (Formal and/or plural)
  • Nous avons une mémoire d’éléphant → We have an elephant’s memory
  • Il a une mémoire d’éléphant → He has an elephant’s memory
  • Elle a une mémoire d’éléphant → She has an elephant’s memory
  • Ils ont une mémoire d’éléphant → They have an elephant’s memory (Masculine and neutral)
  • Elles ont une mémoire d’éléphant → They have an elephant’s memory (Feminine)

Example with audio dialogue

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” J’ai une mémoire d’éléphant “
” I have an elephant’s memory* “
” Pas toujours ! “
” Not always! “
” Bon ok, parfois… “
” Alright, sometimes… “
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