French Inscription: tovt bien ov bien


Civis Illustris
Looks like French..."tout" is how totus changed into French. "ov"="ou"?

Perhaps "all well or well"? (I know almost no French, but I know "ou"="or", like Spanish "o.")

Marius Magnus

Civis Illustris
It's definitely French. I think "ou" has a few different meanings (including being a form of some verb), but I forget exactly what they are. Normally some of them are distinguished by putting an accent mark on the U; but this would not be done in all-caps text.

Marius Magnus

Civis Illustris
OK, I've looked it up. "Ou" with an accent on the U means "where". So, literally, the phrase translates "all well where well".

But what exactly it is supposed to mean is an interesting question. The phrase is obviously contracted. It could be something very akin to "All's well that ends well" (although not having exactly the same sense). It may even be possible that "bien" has multiple meanings, and the phrase could be a play on words. I think you would have to ask a native French speaker.


Staff member
It is not, "Tout bien ou rien" is it?

Marius Magnus

Civis Illustris
Hmm...that would make much more sense. B and R look similar enough, depending on the script, they could have been confused...


I think it is Tout bien ov rien, its hard to tell because its on a picture. here is a link ... 8UqaXVR_tM

its on the title page of a book the head of the education department at stanford wrote illustrating how the prussian model of schooling would be the best method for eliminating religon in america and establishing the religon of humanism, he was one of the people who has most influenced the administration and methods of education. Is he saying the ends justify the means?