revenons à nos moutons


Senior Member
france french
Moderator note:
Several threads merged to create this one.

My question was: how can you translate into English the French phrase "revenons à nos moutons".

Thank you!
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  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    let's get back to the subject (at hand)/topic
    (no sheep or other animals involved in saying it--sorry, it's a bit boring)
    Or perhaps 'let's get back to the matter in hand' or 'point' (?) There is an old expression my aunt used to use - she was born in the North of England in 1906 or so. 'To return to our muttons' - she said it when she felt we had left the point - she used it just like that, with quasi-imperative force, like the infinitives used in French road-signs - RALENTIR.

    Just in case anyone's interested, the expression comes from a 15th-century Parisian farce called La Farce de Maitre Patelin about a rascally advocate who is representing a crooked shepherd who has stolen some sheep. Whenever the Judge asks about the sheep the advocate goes off into rambling and brilliantly comic discussions of other things altogether. The judge keeps calling him to order by saying 'let's get back to the sheep.' The repetition of this line and the judge's frustration cause much hilarity and the phrase has passed into the French language - it's still current - and even crossed the Channel. I know all this because I researched it for my aunt forty years ago!


    Senior Member
    france french
    Thank you liulia and thomas tampion, the explanation was definitely interesting, I know more about English and French now!


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    There is a jokey translation which is 'Returning to our muttons'. It's in fairly common use (search the English only forum) but it is slightly humorous because it is an over-literal translation.


    Senior Member
    French - France

    Do you know the English equivalent of "revenons à nos moutons"?
    It means "let's go back to the point".
    For instance, you would use this idiom during a meeting when people are wandering from an initial topic and you want them to come back to it.


    Senior Member
    français de France
    Je dirais let's get back to the point.

    Je ne connais pas d'expression imagée qui veuille dire la même chose en anglais ; attends les vrais anglophones. :)


    English - US
    I agree more with La Ricaine - I would use any of those. ("Let's get back to business/back to the task at hand/back on track".)

    If someone said "we need to get our ducks in a row," I wouldn't know they meant to pay attention to the discussion. It usually refers more to arranging details in order to prepare for something (ex. a presentation, or moving to a new house).


    New Member
    French Belgium
    Good day mates,

    could someone (English native) please help with the following translation:

    "Revenons a nos moutons" (meaning "back to the subject we were talking about before")

    Any good English expression for that?




    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Also: (Now,) getting back to where we were...

    By the way, what a cracker of a French expression... it's so cute I just have to use it the next occasion that arises. :p


    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I have always taken this expression to mean: Let us leave this digression/ extraneous activity and return to the things that really concern us/ resume what we are supposed to be doing.
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