I encountered this while reading Astérix. The Gauls have had their village surrounded by a Roman palisade, and several of them attack the southern portion while Astérix leaves the village by the north.

After the fight, a Roman soldier comes running up to his comrades, lying bruised and broken on the ground, and tells them there's a breach in the northern palisade and that this fight was only a diversion. One of the soldiers on the ground replies "Une diversion? T'as de ces mots!!"

What does this mean? "You have some of these words" obviously makes no sense.


First, beware the diversion meaning in French is narrower than in English.

The Merriam Webster dictionary describes several acceptions, only the one describing a military tactic matches the French usage:

an attack or feint that draws the attention and force of an enemy from the point of the principal operation You create a diversion while I sneak inside the building.

So in Asterix, diversion cannot mean something that diverts or amuses, a distraction.

T'as de ces mots !!, literally "you've got such words !", can mean depending on the context "the word(s) you just used is/are surprising, inappropriate, sophisticated, or unknown to me !"

As diversion is unlikely to be unknown to a soldier, the only reasonable explanation is the soldier strongly disagree and considers n'était qu'une diversion to be an understatement comparing to the attack he endured.


It's an exclamation of unspecified sarcasm/disbelief.

That is, from the point of view of those who just got trounced, it doesn't make much of a frickin' difference that this was "just" a distraction.

  • I concur with this explanation.
    – Frank
    Mar 25 '17 at 3:36

As Circeus mentioned, it is an expression of sarcasm, which literally translates to "You've got such words". A reasonable English equivalent could be:

A diversion? Some word you've got for it!

  • 1
    Or perhaps, “Diversion is hardly the word (for it)!”. Mar 26 '17 at 7:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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