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French expression of the day: Péter les plombs

Have you been asked to fill in one too many French forms or been cut up on the roads by yet another terrible driver? You may need this.

French expression of the day: Péter les plombs

Why do I need to know péter les plombs?

France, like all countries, does have its irritating points and there may come a time when you feel that you just can't take it any more. 

What does it mean?

It means to blow a fuse, go beserk, lose it altogether, freak out – in general, the moment when you decide that you just can't take it any longer.

Péter is an informal verb that is usually translated as to fart, but can also mean to burst or to pop while les plombs are pellets or fuses.

S'il est encore en retard, mon Dieu, je vais péter les plombs – If he is late again, I swear to God I will lose it.

Le fontionnaire était si impoli et inutile, j'ai pété les plombs – The bureaucrat was so rude and unhelpful, I blew a fuse.

A similar phrase is péter un câble, so you could also say 

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 go beserk when she finds out her housemate's dog peed on her Persian rug. 

And if you want a more general phrase for the feeling of getting to the end of your tether, you could use j'en peux plus – I can't take it any more.

(And of course once you have lost it, it's time to start swearing. Check out our guide on how to swear like a French person).

For more French words and phrases, check out our French word of the Day section.



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For members


French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish