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Accorder ses violons

Question:

What does accorder ses violons mean, and how can I translate it?

Answer:

Accorder ses violons literally means “to tune one’s violins.” Figuratively, it means to agree on something or reach an agreement with another person. The expression originally comes from the 15th-century phrase accorder ses vielles. A vielle is a stringed instrument that was used at that time. The expression plays on two meanings of the verb accorder: to tune and to harmonize or to bring together.

Here are a few ways to translate it:

  • agree on
  • Ils doivent dresser une liste de priorité pour leurs programmes de formation et ils doivent accorder leurs violons.
  • They need to prioritize their training programs, and they need to agree on how to do this.
  • come or get together
  • Les municipalités et les provinces doivent accorder leurs violons en la matière.
  • The municipalities and the provinces must come together (get together) on this matter.
  • get one’s act together
  • Je leur conseille d’accorder leurs violons sur la question des dossiers confidentiels.
  • I suggest they get their act together on the issue of confidentiality.
  • get one’s stories straight or square or keep one’s stories straight
  • Mettez-vous d’accord et accordez vos violons si vous ne voulez pas d’ennuis!
  • Make up your minds and get your stories straight (get your stories square, keep your stories straight) if you don’t want to get into trouble!
  • reach a consensus
  • Comme tout le monde le sait, il est difficile d'accorder tous ses violons ensemble sur ce sujet.
  • As everyone knows, it is very difficult to reach a consensus on this subject.
  • reach an agreement
  • Les deux pays tentent d’accorder leurs violons sur les changements climatiques.
  • The two countries are trying to reach an agreement on climate change.
  • read from the same page
  • Les deux ne disent pas la même chose concernant cet événement. Ils devraient vraiment accorder leurs violons.
  • The two of them are not saying the same thing about what happened. They should really be reading from the same page.
  • reconcile one’s stories
  • Ils doivent accorder leurs violons concernant cette histoire contradictoire.
  • They need to reconcile their conflicting stories.
  • sing from the same hymn book or hymn sheet or song book
  • Accordez vos violons si vous voulez que les gens croient vos propos.
  • You should sing from the same hymn book (hymn sheet, song book) if you want people to believe you.
  • sing the same tune
  • Ils n'accordent pas leurs violons sur le sujet.
  • They are not singing the same tune on the issue.