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The French saying "Qui vole un œuf vole un bœuf" revealed

You are in the right place to find out everything you have to know about the funny saying "Qui vole un œuf vole un bœuf". More precisely, this includes a full definition of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. Together with the cool informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonym and more!

French to English

  • Translation : Give an inch and he'll take a mile

  • Literal meaning : Who steals an egg will steal an ox

  • Register : Informal - Funny

Pronunciation example



  • IPA : / ki vɔl ɛ̃n- œf vɔl ɛ̃ bœːf. /

aesthetic french quote vole oeuf vole boeuf

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What does it mean exactly?


As you probably guessed, the first meaning of this proverb is that there is no minor crime. Someone who steals something as cheap as an egg, will someday end up stealing something much more expensive, like an ox.

If the thief doesn't face any consequences after his minor crime, he will be more confident for the next one. And will be less hesitating before acting, because his mental barriers had been lowered.

Here the theft is an image for any kind of "crime" and can typically represent infidelity, hurting, etc.

But there is another lesson here: from the victim's point of view, there is no minor crime. An egg might seem "nothing" for the thief but might be the only sustenance that keeps the victim alive.

We could conclude that the severity of a crime is a relative notion and can vary a lot between different people and cultures.

How to use it

If you know someone who committed a minor crime/theft or don't realize that what he qualifies as "minor" could have severe consequences for others. Or if you just want to keep a wise proverb that prevents you from committing "the first theft".

Then you can use "Qui vole un oeuf, vole un boeuf" as a friendly reminder for staying on the track.


↓ Example in a story with English translation ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.

La voix de la sagesse

The voice of wisdom

AliceRegarde, j'ai des nouvelles lunettes de soleil !
Look, I've got new sunglasses!
JacquesTu les as achetées quand ?
When did you buy them?
AliceJe ne les ai pas achetées. Alors, elles sont jolies hein ?
I didn't buy them. So, they are pretty, eh?
JacquesOui... mais c'est quelqu'un qui te les a données ?
Yes... but did someone give them to you?
AliceNon, je viens... de les trouver.
No, I just... found them.
JacquesTu les as volées ?!
Did you steal them?!
AliceNon... empruntées.
No... borrowed.
JacquesAlice, c'est du vol ! Et qui vole un oeuf vole un boeuf !
Alice, this is theft! And there is no little theft!
AliceArrête tes bêtises ! C'est juste des lunettes de soleil !
Stop your nonsense! It's just sunglasses!


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Les chiens ne font pas des chats


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Les chiens ne font pas des chats

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