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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: péter un câble

This useful French expression has nothing to do with cables... or farting, but you’ll definitely want to get out of the way of someone who is about to 'péter un cable'.

French Expression of the Day: péter un câble
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know péter un câble?
 
This expression, frequently heard in morning traffic jams and on overcrowded metro trains can be confusing because it has nothing to do with cables. Or farts.
 
But it’s a need-to-know expression because you’ll definitely want to get out of the way of someone who is about to péter un cable.
 
So, what does péter un câble mean?
 
The word câble has a pretty straightforward translation of, well, ‘cable’ as in ‘rope’ or ‘electrical cord’.
 
The verb péter is informal, and most often translated as ‘to fart’, but it can also mean to ‘burst’, ‘pop’ or ‘snap’.
 
So, literally, péter un câble translates as ‘to fart a cable’ or more fittingly here, ‘to burst a cable.’ Figuratively it means that someone is about to get really, really angry in quite a spectacular way.
 
In other words, they’re about to ‘go ballistic’, ‘berserk’, or ‘lose it’.  
 
If you imagine all the anger building up inside someone until it bursts out in an over the top rage, you get the idea.
 
You might hear this expression in the future tense like, Si j'arrive en retard aujourd'hui je vais péter un câble! (If I get there late today I’m going to lose it!) in which case you should get out of the way! You could also hear it used in the past tense to describe a reaction, like Il était tellement impoli, j’ai pété un câble! (‘He was so rude, I went ballistic!’)
 
Alternatives
 
A common synonym that can be used in the same way is péter un plomb or péter les plombs. Un plomb is ‘a fuse’ in English, so this expression translates quite literally as ‘to blow a fuse.’
 
The association with passing gas makes both of these expressions informal and not especially polite. If you need a more formal, and slightly milder way to say you’re getting angry, try s’énerver. For example, Je m'énerve quand les gens sont impolis.  (I get really annoyed when people are impolite.)
 
How do I use péter un câble?
 
Amélia va péter un câble quand elle se rendra compte que la chienne de sa coloque a pissé sur son tapis persean!
 
Amélia’s going to throw a fit when she finds out her housemate’s dog peed on her Persian rug.
 
Quand je les ai vus ensemble, j'ai pété les plombs!
 
When I saw them together, I lost it!
 
(The above examples come from wordreference.com)
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with beekeeping.

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Why do I need to know faire son miel?

Because you might want to describe how you were able to buy a new wardrobe after the airline lost your luggage.

What does it mean?

Faire son miel – usually pronounced fair soan mee-ell – literally means to make your honey, or to make your own honey. In practice, this phrase actually means to take advantage of a situation, usually by turning a profit or to get the most out of a situation. 

The phrase comes from the idea that bees are actually profiteers: they take advantage of flowers in order to make honey. In the 16th century, this phrase was first put into use, and it followed the idea that bees fly up to the innocent flowers and steal their nectar and pollen for their own purposes. People began to use this as a way to describe people who take advantage of others or particular situations for their own benefit, or those who take things that do not belong to them.

Though the phrase is tied to the idea of turning a situation around for your own benefit, it is does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It can be used both for physical profit, or intellectual. It is somewhat similar to the English phrase of ‘making lemonade from lemons’ – taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.

In fact, French actually has another phrase that is quite similar to this one: faire son beurre, which is potentially even older than faire son miel

Use it like this

La compagnie aérienne a perdu nos sacs, avec tous nos vêtements dedans. Nous avons pu faire notre miel de la situation et acheter un nouvel ensemble de meilleurs vêtements avec l’argent de la compagnie aérienne! – The airline lost our bags, with all our clothes inside. We were able to take advantage of the situation by buying a whole new wardrobe on their dime!

Les oiseaux font leur miel de tous les nouveaux arbres plantés dans la ville. Ils profitent de ce nouvel espace pour faire leurs nids. – The birds are taking advantage of all the new trees being planted across the city. They are enjoying the new space to build their nests.

Le politicien a fait son miel des fonds supplémentaires et en a utilisé une partie pour son propre projet de construction. Ils pourraient le mettre en procès pour corruption. – The politician took advantage of the extra public funds for his own construction project. They might put him on trial for corruption. 

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