Seul quelqu'un qui n'y connaîtrait rien en politique tiendrait de tels propos.

The precise meaning of this expression eludes me. Does it mean:

"have/hold such opinions" without expressing them overtly?

Or is it more like:

"express such opinions / make such remarks" for others to hear?

  • To: @jlliagre When I hear the verb "tenir", it conjures up the image of "holding" something. So it is easy to be swayed into the wrong interpretation "have/hold such opinions". Which makes me wonder -- what is an idiomatic way to express the idea "have/hold such opinions", on the other hand? I mean, without expressing them to others? Merci. Sep 6, 2016 at 6:45
  • "avoir de tels propos" = just "have/hold such opinions" without expressing them to others? Sep 6, 2016 at 6:54
  • Un/des propos means something you say, express, tell (often used in plural). So avoir des propos means to tell something, as tenir des propos. Avoir des propos is of course not an idiom. Note that I think you cannot dire des propos, exprimer des propos, maybe because a propos is already something said, expressed.
    – Destal
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:36
  • LUNA, as it was clearly directed to me, you'd better have put your comment after my reply and not as a comment to your own question. Answer updated.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 6, 2016 at 8:35
  • Note also that I didn't receive any notification despite your @jlliagre tag. this explains why: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43019/…
    – jlliagre
    Sep 6, 2016 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


The latter: Tenir des propos is an idiom that means to openly tell something.

It is slightly formal. It is usually followed by an adjective qualifying the expressed statements, e.g.:

Il tient des propos joyeux/intelligents/incohérents/racistes/injurieux/surprenants/sensés/...

Here, de tels propos means words that would clearly reveal the speaker's lack of knowledge about politics.

While a common meaning for tenir is "to hold", it has a much wider range of usage like its latin ancestor tenēre, as much as sixty nine according to wikipedia. See also the dictionnaire de l'académie.

Propos means statements here.

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