I'm graduating in translation and one of my 2nd semester's works is a movie review about Philomena. I am stuck, however, at this part:

(He's an) expert purveyor of deflating mots on any subject, including his own atheism: “I don’t believe in God and I think He can tell.”

I don't understand what "deflating mots" means. What's the meaning of "mot" in that context?


It's French, meaning word (Wiktionary) and pronounced mo. It's most often seen in English in the phrase bon mot (M-W) or mot juste (M-W).


A mot is:

a pithy or witty saying

So I'd suppose that by referring to 'deflating mots', the author is talking about witty comments which tend to cause his opponents (or possibly his audience) to retract or to laugh at themselves—to 'deflate' their ego, in a sense.

  • Can I say he's sarcastic, then? After that, the text shows one of his quotes: "I don't believe in God and I think He can tell.". Anyways, thank you so much for the answer. It helped a lot!! – Lorena Rocha Oct 3 '13 at 16:18
  • @LorenaRocha Perhaps, but I wouldn't say that a deflating mot is the same as a sarcastic comment. Some deflating mots might be sarcastic and some some sarcastic comments might be considered deflating mots, but they're not equivalent. – p.s.w.g Oct 3 '13 at 16:21
  • Hm, I see. I think in this context, Sixsmith (the "he") is being sarcastic. But I understood what you mean: not always a deflating mot is a sarcastic one and vice-versa. Thank you very much. You saved my life, hehe. – Lorena Rocha Oct 3 '13 at 16:24

The word mot comes from 'bon mot' meaning a funny and clever remark. Here 'deflating mot' can mean a remark that is funny and clever and that also makes someone less confident or important.

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