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

Get ready to discover everything you need to know about the funny French idiom "J'ai une mémoire d'éléphant". This include a detailed definition of what it is and how to use it in a dialogue with an audio example. And because we want to help you on your learning journey, we also added useful things like synonym, dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Translation in English

  • Translation : I have a good memory

  • Literal meaning : I have an elephant's memory

  • Register : Informal - Funny

Pronunciation guide



  • IPA : / ʒe yn memwaʁ delefɑ̃ /

aesthetic french quote memoire delephant

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What does it mean?


The literal meaning is:

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 has been proved false but the cliché remains... What an injustice!


Example in a dialogue


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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C'est pas la mer à boire


To vocabulary list


Tu as le cul bordé de nouilles