I'm a little bit lost with the expression bel et bien. Usually it is translated as “indeed” or “in fact”, but there are times which there other better synonyms or expressions. I wish for a list with the translations of bel et bien, ordered by rate of appearance, so one could apply an algorithm when translating this expression.

Oh, and as an appendix, as I'm Brazilian I would like even more if I had translations in Portuguese. For now, I translate it as “de fato”, “claro” ou “é claro”.

Two sample phrases:

Elle s'est bel et bien échappée.

On l'a bel et bien obtenu son assentiment.

One of the difficulties appears in this phrase:

Christian était réellement mécontent.

Which could be translated to:

Christian was indeed unhappy.

But could we say?:

Christian était bel et bien mécontent.

  • 1
    Thx for the welcoming, the portuguese translation would be a bonus, it's not required. But thanks for the collins dictionary, I didn't know that one, only Littré and Larousse. My puzzle is trying to find an expression as fluid in portuguese, but there aren't that many resources as in english.
    – psygo
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


Bel et bien is used to strenghten an assertion when there was an uncertainty about the fact, I believe "actually" is the closest English translation and perhaps na realidade in Portuguese.

Elle s'est bel et bien échappée.

(We didn't think she will do it but) she actually escaped.

On a bel et bien obtenu son assentiment.

(We thought we wouldn't but) we actually got their agreement.

In your example

Christian était bel et bien mécontent.

(We thought he was not affected but) Christian was actually unhappy.

  • Christian était bel et bien mécontent = Christian was actually unhappy or Christian was indeed unhappy? Intuitively, I agree with your explanation but most dictionaries give indeed or well and truly as translations. Na realidade seems like a good one, but speaking more naturally we would say na verdade. The question: is the premise of uncertainty absolutely necessary for bel et bien's existence or is it a premise for the vast majority of cases?
    – psygo
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:27
  • 1
    If you search sentences where "bel et bien" appears, I'm sure you will notice there is always some form of uncertainty involved. Whether "indeed" or "na realidade" are the right translations are outside of my knowledge (and off topic here).
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.