Quelle Surprise: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 6, 2023

The idiom "quelle surprise" is a French phrase that means "what a surprise" in English. It is often used sarcastically to express disbelief, irony, or annoyance at something unsurprising.

In short:

  • The idiom means "what a surprise" in English.
  • It is often used sarcastically to mock something obvious or expected.

What Does "Quelle Surprise" Mean?

The idiom "quelle surprise" literally translates to "what a surprise" in English, but it does not always convey the same meaning or tone. In French, it can be used sincerely or ironically to express surprise, admiration, or disappointment at something unexpected or unusual.

Where Does "Quelle Surprise" Come From?

The origin and date of the first use of "quelle surprise" in English are unclear. However, it likely became popular in the 20th century when French culture and literature were widely admired and imitated by English speakers. This idiom is one of the many French expressions adopted into English, especially in British English, where it is often used humorously or mockingly to comment on something that is not surprising or original.

10 Examples of "Quelle Surprise" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use "quelle surprise" in different sentences, demonstrating different contexts and situations:

  • Quelle surprise! She won the lottery after buying only one ticket. Way to go!
  • Quelle surprise. He forgot our anniversary again. It's been years since we last celebrated.
  • Quelle surprise. You're late for work again. Fashionably late, though.
  • Gary cheated on his girlfriend again. Quelle surprise. He has always been a scrub.
  • Quelle surprise. He proposed to her after dating for only two weeks. Holy cow.
  • What can I say? They found out that the politician was lying. Quelle surprise.
  • Quelle surprise. He promised to change, but he went back to his old habits. Old habits die hard, indeed.
  • Quelle surprise. He gave up his job to travel the world. I thought he was a workaholic.
  • Quelle surprise. She's dating her ex again out of the blue.
  • Son of a biscuit! She got an A on the test without studying. Quelle surprise.

Examples of "Quelle Surprise" in Pop Culture

The idiom "quelle surprise" has also been used in various forms of pop culture.

Here are some examples:

  • In the movie, Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), based on the novel by Helen Fielding, the protagonist Bridget Jones (played by Renée Zellweger) uses "quelle surprise" sarcastically several times to comment on her romantic troubles and disappointments.
  • In the T.V. series Emily in Paris, the phrase "quelle surprise" was mentioned in one scene and several internet posts about the series.
  • In the song "Quelle Surprise" (2011) by the British rock band Enter Shikari, the title and chorus are repeated as a sarcastic refrain to criticize modern society's political and social problems.

Other Ways to Say "Quelle Surprise"

You may use some of these alternative expressions instead of "quelle surprise":

  • What a shocker!
  • No way!
  • You don't say!
  • Who would have thought?
  • How original!
  • How unexpected!
  • Fancy that!
  • Well, well, well!

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Quelle Surprise"

Here are some common questions and answers about the idiom "quelle surprise":

  • What does "quelle surprise" mean?

The idiom "quelle surprise" is a French phrase that means "what a surprise" in English. It is often used sarcastically to express disbelief, irony, or annoyance at something unsurprising.

  • What is the origin of "quelle surprise"?

The origin and date of the first use of "quelle surprise" in English are unclear. However, it likely became popular in the 20th century when French culture and literature were widely admired and imitated by English speakers.

  • What are other ways to say "quelle surprise"?

Some alternative expressions for the idiom are "what a shocker!", "no way!", "you don't say!", "fancy that!" etc.

  • How do you pronounce "quelle surprise"?

You can pronounce it as /kɛl syʁ.pʁiz/ in French or /ˌkɛl sə(ɹ)ˈpɹiːz/ in English.

  • How do you use "quelle surprise" in a sentence?

You can use it at the beginning or at the end of a sentence, with or without punctuation, to express surprise, irony, or sarcasm.

  • What is the difference between "quelle surprise" and "what a surprise"?

The main difference is that "quelle surprise" is a French phrase often used sarcastically in English. In contrast, "What a surprise" is an English phrase that can be used sincerely or ironically depending on the tone and context.

  • What are some antonyms for "quelle surprise"?

Some antonyms for "quelle surprise" are "no surprise," "as expected," "of course," "obviously," "naturally," "no kidding," etc.

  • Is "quelle surprise" formal or informal?

"Quelle surprise" is an informal expression usually used in casual or humorous situations. It is not appropriate for severe or formal contexts.

  • Is "quelle surprise" rude or polite?

"Quelle surprise" can be rude or polite depending on how and whom you say it. It can be seen as rude if you use it to mock or insult someone or something that you do not respect or like.

  • How do you say "quelle surprise" in other languages?

Spanish: Qué sorpresa
German: Was für eine Überraschung
Italian: Che sorpresa
Portuguese: Que surpresa

Final Thoughts About "Quelle Surprise"

The idiom "quelle surprise" is a French phrase that has become common in English, especially in British English. It is often used sarcastically to express surprise, irony, or annoyance at something that is not surprising.

Here are some key points to remember about the idiom:

  • It means "what a surprise" in English but does not always convey the same meaning or tone.
  • In French, it can be used sincerely or ironically to express surprise, admiration, or disappointment at something unexpected or unusual.
  • It is an informal expression usually used in casual or humorous situations.
  • It has some variations and related expressions.
  • It can be rude or polite depending on how and to whom you say it.

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