Ce la Vie – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did your friend exclaim ‘ce la vie’ after you gave him some bad news? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression ‘ce la vie’ is an incorrect spelling of the term ‘c’est la vie.’ Both terms mean the same thing, translating to ‘that’s life’ in English.

The English lexicon borrowed the term as a way to express resignation or acceptance. ‘C’est la vie’ is a more classy way of saying ‘oh well.’

Example Usage

“Well, it’s sad to see you go, but ‘ce la vie.’ We’ll catch you around sometime, don’t be a stranger, and stay in touch.”

“Ce la vie, isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes? I know you feel frustrated, but sometimes you just have to let go.”

“Ce la vie, mon Cherie. There’s nothing we can do to change our destiny; it’s already written in the stars. All we must do is allow the universe to guide us.”

“Well, ce la vie. I knew it was all going to work out okay for everyone. We got lucky with that, but I guess the universe works in mysterious ways.”

“Ce la vie. This was meant to work out this way, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, my friend.”

“When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to say ‘ce la vie’ and start making lemonade. There’s no reason to wait around expecting things to change.

“This is it, my friend, ce la vie. We’ve come this far, and now all that’s left is to see what’s at the end of the road. Are you ready for this?”


The expression ‘ce la vie’ originates from French, translating to ‘such is life’ or ‘that’s life’ in English. The term has been used in French since the late 1500s. However, its adoption in England only occurred in the late 1880s.

The saying made its way across the Atlantic to the United States with the 1965 song, ‘Sing C’est la vie’ by Sonny & Cher. The song was a smash hit for the duo, introducing the term to the English-speaking community in the US.

The phrase is still in use in modern language. Several English-language novels and books use ‘C’est la vie’ in the title, and even rappers use it in their album and song titles. ‘Ce la vie’ only appeared as an alternate spelling to ‘c’est la vie’ in the Urban Dictionary in 2019.

Language experts believe it’s just a short version of the French saying. Since it’s French, there are no rules around its use in the English lexicon. Therefore, the ‘ce la vie’ spelling is as valid as the term’s original spelling in conversations and text communications.

Phrases Similar to Ce la Vie

  • Go with the flow.
  • The universe provides.

Phrases Opposite to Ce la Vie

  • We can control the outcome.
  • Master of your own destiny.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Ce la vie.
  • Cest la vie.

Ways People May Say Ce la Vie  Incorrectly

The expression ‘cest la vie’ is the correct spelling of the term. ‘Ce la vie’ is an abbreviated form of the term used by Americans and some English speakers.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Ce la Vie

You can use the expression ‘ce la vie’ when you want to show your nonchalance in a stressful situation or bad outcome in life. It’s similar to the English phrase ‘such is life.’ You don’t have to speak French to say ‘ce la vie,’ and people that don’t speak French will usually understand what you’re saying. ‘Ce la vie’ I a commonly understood term in the modern vernacular across America and the UK.

You can use ‘ce la vie’ in social conversations where you want to impress that there’s nothing you can do to change the outcome. You’ll use it as a way to tell people that life unfolds as it should, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

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