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The French proverb "Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières"

We are going to explain you everything you ever wanted to know about the inspirational French saying "Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières". To be clear, it includes a detailed definition of what it mean and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. And also the cool things we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonym and more!

French to English translation

  • Translation : Tall oaks from little acorns grow

  • Literal meaning : The little streams make the big rivers

  • Register : Neutral - Inspirational

Pronunciation guide



  • IPA : / le pəti ʁɥiso fɔ̃ le ɡʁɑ̃d ʁivjɛːʁ. /

aesthetic french quote petits ruisseaux font grandes rivieres

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What does it mean exactly?


What makes a river so huge and unstoppable? Thousands of tiny streams.

Most of them are invisible and seem unimportant, but it's the sum of all these mini-streams that end up making such a powerful river.

And humans, just like streams, can't become "big" out of nowhere: they can only slowly grow up to become the tenacious river they want to be.

This proverb teaches us that with patience and perseverance: everything is possible, no matter how hard the task. All we have to do is to start small and slowly make our way toward something much bigger.

How to use

This saying reminds us of being patient and to never give up on our dreams, and can also inspire and motivate people.

Let's imagine you have a friend who thinks of quitting a commitment/project, afraid of the hard work to come, reminds him/her that "Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières".

That just like the stream, with patience and dedication, he/she will become a river.


Example in a dialogue with French audio


Je m'entraîne mais je ne sens aucun effet

I'm training but I don't feel any effect

Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières.

The little streams make the big rivers.

Alors je vais être patient et continuer !

Then I will be patient and keep going!

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parallel texts with slow French audio

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C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron


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Les grands esprits se rencontrent