C'est une excuse à deux balles.

English Translation

That’s a lousy excuse.

what does this potentially idiomatic expression mean? is it vulgar?

Balle apparently is another word for a franc. The phrase à deux balles roughly translates as inexpensive, or in this case “next to worthless”.

You can read more here.


It’s informal but I wouldn’t say it’s vulgar.

Thanks. Balls in English is slang for testicles, which apparently this is not.

To clear up any doubt the french equivalent for testicles is:

boules, couilles, testicules (Familier, Vulgaire)


“Balles” was a very familiar word for “franc”, the old French currency that was replaced by the Euro in 2001.

“Boules” can also be used with a similar meaning actually.

You can think of it as “bucks” in the US and “quids” in the UK.

So when you say “C’est une excuse à deux balles”, you are basically saying that their apology is worth 2 bucks/quids, i.e not much and you do not really believe it.

There are quite a few other words used to refer to money in French: