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  5. "C'est dans la poche."

"C'est dans la poche."

Translation:It is in the bag.

March 23, 2013



Duolingo should make it CLEARER when they are teaching us idioms. I can't stress this enough. I don't know if it's an idiom in French UNLESS YOU TELL ME


But they did tell you. They used this example to do so. Now you know that in addition to meaning simply that something is in the pocket, the phrase, C'est dans la poche has the additional meaning of it's in the bag.

After the long discussion on this page, I doubt that either you or I will ever forget it.

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That's no good. DL has an idiom section. That is where this belongs.


Idioms are just as important as normal speaking. In English we use them all the time. It's just one of those things to remember, but you'll get it!

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If everything that was an idiom, i.e., not translated exactly literally word-for-word, there would be mostly one HUGE idioms section and a few other sections.

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No way. The majority of exercises here are straightforward translations. In fact, even this is. This is precisely a word for word translation. So it must have been translated to something different when I made that comment 7 months ago.

I'm going to guess it used to say "It is in the pocket" or something like that because otherwise my comment doesn't make any contextual sense.

Edit: to be clear, I vaguely recall this and my objection was not a technical one about proper sentence categorization, but a systematic one about sentences that cannot be translated literally should be in a different (Idiom) section.

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That is entirely possible. There have been quite a few awkward English sentences and there is a drive to try to clean them up. So sometimes comments about "that's a rotten translation" may be referring to something that is no longer even accepted, much less featured as a "best answer". This exercise is indeed translated literally, but it is usually understood as a metaphor, like "it's a piece of cake". That can also be interpreted quite literally and would not be wrong, but its idiomatic sense is the same as "c'est dans la poche".

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Yes, I know, that's why I clarified. Metaphors and expressions are fine. That was not what I, or the OP, were originally objecting to.


Why? The sentence has a valid direct translation that demonstrates the lesson as well as an idiomatic one (which is entirely optional and beside the point). Most in the idioms section are there because they are highly irregular and difficult to translate other than the idiomatic way.


It accepted it is in the pocket , which is literal. Then I checked and saw it was also the more idiomatic. Maybe they got more flexible in the intervening 2 years.


Is this the equivalent of the colloquial english phrase meaning "It's as good as done"?


I think it's as good as done carries a sense of more immediacy about a choice than it's in the bag.

The origin of it's in the bag comes from the discipline system prevalent in British sailing ships. Whipping of sailors for even minor infractions or poor performance of duty was common place. The whipping was usually carried out by a designated crew member. The whip used was called a cat of nine tails because it was nine whips braided together at the handle. The sailor who handled the whipping duties was informally referred to as the devil. Sailors would slip some money to the devil so he would surreptitiously lighten the force of the strokes if they were to be whipped. Thus when a sailor was about to do something wrong his shipmates would caution him that there will be the devil to pay if you do that.

When a whipping was to take place the cat of nine tails whip and the bag it was stored in were brought out for use if needed. If whipping was indeed the punishment and the victim was called forth the whip was taken out of the bag and the announced punishment applied. If the ship was underway not all the sailors could see and hear what was going on. Thus the word would be passed along the cat is out of the bag causing a great deal of anxiety as to who might suddenly be called to come up for their punishment for some unknown (to them) minor infraction.

Once all offenders had received their punishment and the whip was put back in the bag, word would be passed along that it's in the bag which naturally generated a great sense of relief.

It's in the bag has now come to mean there is no need to worry about an outcome even if that outcome is far distant.

It's as good as done refers to something that is about to start or has started and it's completion is assured.

Someone might say for some reason that an election two years away was in the bag but he would never say that it is as good as done.


Interesting. Still, the question remains: is this french expression idiomatic in the same sense and context as the english one?


Duo says that it is the equivalent of it's in the bag.


Fun stories but probably almost none of it is true. You should take care to present your "etymology" as speculation, since that's all it is. For example Snopes finds no evidence that "cat out of the bag" has anything to do with sailing and rejects that "origin story": http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/catbag.asp

I couldn't find any support for your "in the bag" story, although a quick search online I see some debate (and mostly skepticism) about "devil to pay".

Back to the original point, and phony long-winded stories aside, a quick look at any dictionary will confirm that the English phrase "in the bag" means a virtually guaranteed success i.e. clinched. So can we get back to whether this expression means the same thing in French?


Every body has their own sources that they rely on. My sources are Royal Navy long service veterans who relayed the usage that they received early in their career from sailors with a lifetime of service.

Naturally, you can accept Snopes inability to confirm what Royal Navy sailors believe is the historic origins of terms they use. But you should know that the publishers of the Snopes are an American and a Canadian neither of whom have any connection to a navy and certainly not to the Royal Navy.

It is likely that the Devil to Pay phrase originated with those very few members of the nobility who were to be beheaded and allowed to take measures to reduce its discomfort. But the phrase was undoubtedly introduced into the vernacular by those thousands of Royal Navy veterans who had personally experienced a cat of nine tails whipping from a shipmate and those tens of thousands who endured anxiety about receiving such a fate.

Commoners were not exposed to beheading. They were hung. A practice for which there was no custom or option of bribing the executioner. But many commoners had been to sea in the Royal Navy, often against their choice. They all knew about the cat of nine tails punishment, that it was stored in a bag, that it was used to punish even the most minor infractions, that there was no assurance that guilt or innocence was a primary consideration in its use, that every seaman on board a ship was at risk or receiving such punishment often without warning, and that when the punishment was over and the cat was back in the bag everyone could relax for a while at least.

It is hard to believe that the sailors didn't develop terminology to describe all aspects of this. Given the role of the Royal Navy in the British culture of the time, it is also hard to believe that their shipboard expressions relating to punishment didn't filter through to the main culture as did hundreds of other examples of less forceful, Royal Navy terminology.

Of course, it is possible that commoners, who despised Anne Boleyn suddenly started using positive phrases, like devil to pay that applied to her situation, which was as otherworldly different from their experience as anything that they could imagine.

Does it mean the same thing as in the pocket in French? That isn't the issue. Duo says it does. This series of comments is about what it means in English and how it came to mean that. Feel free to ignore the comments if you think you already know what could and could not be how they came to be popular expressions.


So, nothing whatever to do with game birds being 'in the bag,' i.e., definitely 'shot, caught and on the way to the dinner table'?

You might be interested to know that a story from an American newspaper ca. 1920 says that it comes from baseball.

A rule of thumb - not from a sailor, but from someone with 2 degrees in English language and 25 years' experience teaching English: the more complicated the 'etymology', the more limited the 'original' context and the more specialized the speakers said to have originated it, the less likely it is that the etymology is true.

People create etymologies based on what they assume a term means, and they base that on their own experience of language. So naturally baseball players might use the expression, 'It's in the bag' to mean, 'We have won the game' (before the game is over) and then come up with 'history' to explain why the phrase 'comes from' baseball. Ditto sailors. Ditto men who hunt. Ask a postman where he thinks the expression comes from, and he'll probably tell you, 'From letters already sorted, in the bag, and ready for delivery.' Makes sense. To a postman.

Now as yourself, 'Which activity had the widest commerce among the greatest numbers of people who might have heard and picked up the phrase and applied it to different situations?' In this case, how many 'ordinary people' would have been around when someone was getting flogged on a British Navy ship? And how many sailors would have used that language ashore, among non-sailors, in non-flogging situations, and expected to be understood? Very few. How did the language get into American English? (Try to write a scenario in which a British sailor explains the expression to an American sailor, who then takes it back to his mates on his US ship and they all take it up as being 'just the phrase' they've been missing. Long shot, isn't it?)

Ditto the baseball story, which is an even harder stretch, because it involves ONE team having a bag of baseballs to which they gave almost superstitious powers, apparently.

The idea that men who went out shooting birds, along with various attendants, would refer to game being 'in the bag' is also a strong possibility, but it is the most likely of the etymologies I've read, simply because it would very easily cross from a group of men (and women) out shooting at birds, to the attendants who carried the guns and bags, to the people who received the bagged birds either for cooking 'back home' or for purchase. Since poachers also 'bagged' game for sale, such a phrase would imply to potential customers that 'that hare you asked for? Consider it caught' (in other words, 'It's in the bag' -the bag for carrying game of all sorts).

The hunting meaning of 'it's in the bag' would be very obvious to anyone who lived in the countryside, over many centuries, and across English-speaking cultures (unlike one country's navy or 'national pastime). If I were placing bets, I'd say 'it's in the bag' comes from hunting.

Just a linguist talking here.


You could be correct of course about what you say except for one thing in your comment.

Your characterization of the relevance of the Royal Navy to the general public flows from your own perception of the role and origins of the Navy in a modern society. Eg. The U.S. navy had its origins in the Royal Navy. Its practices and language came directly from the Royal Navy.

Britain had been ravaged many times by foreign invaders. The Royal Navy was a massive operation developed to prevent this. Every resident from the lowest to the highest ranking in Britain considered their very existence to depend on it. As the Royal Navy became more successful the whole economy came to be dependent on its operations. The spread of the English language itself is a byproduct of the Royal Navy.

No Royal Navy, no English speaking North America. We would be all speaking French or Spanish. And no English speaking Australia and New Zealand as well as English language outposts like Singapore, Hong Kong etc. No use of English as a second language to engage in Commerce as is the case for much of the world now. It would be strange if Royal Navy expressions didn't also get transmitted in the process.

Modern navies in the western world are used for projection of force. Britain's Royal Navy primary mission was preserving the country. Once accomplished, it then went on to facilitate the colonization and dominance of much of the planet. Not only Britain but much of the world was consumed with interest, positive or negative, in the behavior, customs and practices of the Royal Navy.

The ability of the average commoner in Britain to go hunting and catch enough game to require a bag disappeared before standardized English.

I should say that I am regularly advised by linguists that the origins of many words can be tracked thousands of miles over thousands of years. It seems surprising therefore that a particular phrase can not be definitively traced to an origin before there was North American baseball or even a system of postmen walking around delivering mail from bags as we currently consider the postal system to be.


That's really cool, but how the heck did you know that and how does that refer to the previous question????


The comment that your post is directed to concerned whether it is as good as done has the same meaning as it is in the bag. The historical context was introduced to show the subtle difference in focus of the two phrases.


Short answer: Yes - it carries the same idiomatic meaning as in English.



Idiom, generally speaking, does not translate well from one culture to another and hardly ever, literally. Becoming fluent requires learning everyday idiomatic phrases, and what they mean, simply as they are. Don't over-think them and don't use them if you don't understand them but do recognize them.

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Thanks for that. In fact, that is pretty much the definition of an idiom: the meaning of it is not discovered by a literal, word-for-word translation.


...Or is the cat in the bag...?

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The expression is used to refer to anything that is easily accomplished. It's in the bag. In regard to cats, there is another expression which has nothing to do with being "in the bag". That is "The cat's out of the bag". It means that some information that had been withheld has been revealed or leaked. Once that happens, there is no longer a point to continue concealing it. The parallel to letting a literal cat out of a bag is such that, once you let it out, you will have a hard time putting it back in there again.


I have it on good authority that this is quite an "80s" thing to say in France.


"It's inside the pocket" is the same thing as "It's in the pocket" isn't it? My answer was "It's inside the pocket", but Duo didn't accept it and said "It's in the pocket" :'(


Technically, you are correct. Dans is the preposition form of in/inside and thus can be translated as inside and is used when prepositions are appropriate as in this case.

However, Duo is trying to make a point. In English, it's in the bag is usually taken to mean something quite different from it's inside the bag. There is considerable discussion about the difference further up this thread.

Writing it is inside the bag removes the idiomatic meaning and replaces it with the conventional translation that something is simply inside a bag. Duo is suggesting that translating C'est dans la poche as it is inside the pocket does the same thing to the French statement. It is changed to mean just that something is located somewhere.


I used "inside" too. Not being a native ENG, I do not get the point actually.


"(It's) in the bag" is an English idiom which expresses that an outcome is guaranteed.

For example, there are five minutes left in a sports game. Team A is winning by a lot of points. Even though the game is not over, Team A feels confident they will win. Players from Team A might say to each other "It's in the bag." You might also hear "This game is in the bag".


There is a little bit more to the idiom. For example, someone would not use the phrase if the winning team was a hundred points ahead. That is because it's in the bag is used as an expression of confidence based on factors that may not be apparent. Those factors are in a bag or pocket and therefore hidden to some degree. Often the speaker uses the phrase to indicate that he has knowledge that others don't.

In the case of a game where only a few points separate the teams, the speaker is suggesting that based on his experience and judgement the opposing team lacks the physical, character and/or skill to recover the lead. Because of his knowledge, listeners who are not favored with such experience, judgement based skill can relax. When a hundred point lead is involved the outcome is even more certain but is also obvious to everyone.

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This course is French for English-speakers so it may be quite difficult to manage the many common idioms in both French and English, only some of which overlap. By definition, idioms cannot be translated literally (word-for-word) to arrive at their true meaning.

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Many French words have more than one counterpart in English. La poche may be pocket, bag (a generic bag) , or a pouch (it's like a bag), but not generally a "purse".


I agree. I thought it meant in the pocket. I,have not seen anything to say otherwise!!!

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Many French words can be translated with different English words depending on context. La poche = pocket, pouch, or bag. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/translate/french-english/poche


Do drummers say this in French like we do in English?


Are you referring to people who play drums or people paid to drum up sales (type of salesman)?


Often people who play drumset refer to playing "in the pocket" as another way of saying "perfectly in the groove" or something like that. (It's fairly abstract, and I'm not a great set player ;), so it's sort of difficult to explain.) I'm just wondering if the same idiom is used in French. Actually, I'm not familiar with the "drummer" salesman term at all. Is that a regional thing?


Drumset use make sense. Drummer salesman is more antiquated than regional. It comes from a time when orders for goods were taken at your premises rather than the vendors.

Drummer type salesman would travel with crates of goods, sometimes in drums to make it easier for single person to move them around. They would show up, often with as much fanfare as they could personally deliver, demonstrating and selling their particular line of goods. They tended to be loud, aggressive and tried to attract a lot of attention, almost as if they went around beating drums to get noticed. The use of drums to announce the presence of travelling troupes of entertainers, was a practice at the time. Drummers income was based on revenue and expenses for their travels came out of their sales while in the field. They were often desperate to get noticed. They would do every thing but beat drums to get attention.


Interesting! (This is one of the neat things about Duolingo: coming here to learn another language, and then also learning from the community about your own.)


Poche is no bag but pocket


If you read the comments on this page you will understand why, in this case, it means bag in English (but not necessarily in other languages)


Except for when it means something else.


It said correct for "It is inside the porch", despite porch being incorrect.


It's in the pocket

[deactivated user]

    pocket = poche bag = sac

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