What is the proper translation of "caught in the act" in French?

Quelle est la traduction correcte de « caught in the act » en français?

  • 2
    "Caught in act" nearly does not exist. The correct expression is "Caught in the act".
    – Did
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 11:03

4 Answers 4


Another possible translation is:

Pris la main dans le sac

Literally means caught with the hand in the bag, but is most often translated as "caught red-handed".

While not colloquial, it is arguably less formal than "pris sur le fait" or "pris en flagrant délit".


Maybe "pris sur le fait" or "pris en flagrant délit". The first one is more neutral and the second one is originally a police-justice saying.

  • 1
    Pris en flagrant délit.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 14:49
  • 1
    There is also an equivalent legal English (from the same Latin phrase) in flagrante delicto
    – March Ho
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 17:03

A very familiar version of this is:

Pris en flag

where flag is the short version of "flagrant délit" as mentioned in @totorop's answer.

  • JAMAIS entendu ca. Aucun de mes amis de la France non plus, ni au Quebec. C'est peut-etre tres regional comme phrase?
    – Patrice
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 1:56
  • 3
    @Patrice C'est une expression qui vient des jeunes de banlieues, donc selon votre mileu social c'est possible que vous ne l'ayez jamais entendu. Elle est pourtant bien répandue…
    – Fatalize
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 7:31
  • 2
    L'expression est même utilisée par la presse: ladepeche.fr/article/2018/01/18/…
    – Greg
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 7:58

Une version imagée est:

Pris les doigts dans le pot de confiture.

  • Never hear this one
    – aloisdg
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 13:07
  • 2
    @aloisdg Jamais trop tard pour y être initié. Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 18:04
  • @Feelew This is actually a phrase used by Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who said: "Chirac pourrait être pris la bouche pleine, les doigts dans un pot de confiture, qu’il serait encore capable de nier y avoir touché." This is not really a commonly-used expression as far as I know
    – Turtle
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 15:00
  • @Nathan I still like it, and have been exposed to it in Quebec, though my knowledge of French politics is minimal. It seems like the image vividly spoke to the imagination of some people at least, though you appear to be right about its recent appearance: no reference to it whatsoever in any of the linguistic references I checked. Thanks! Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 15:21

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.