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French expression of the day: Ça va chauffer

It's a sign there may be mayhem coming.

French expression of the day: Ça va chauffer

Why do I need to know ça va chauffer?

Because you will know when to get out of the way.

What does it mean?

If you have ever been to a protest in Paris, maybe you have heard a protester or a police officer say ça va chauffer! – ‘it’s going to get heated!’

In this context, chauffer means ‘trouble’, not ‘warmth’. It’s a warning that something could be about to happen, in this case – seeing as you are at a protest – that ‘something’ most likely refers to a potentially violent situation.

Ça va chauffer, je le sens. Il va y avoir des grabuges là. – 'Trouble is coming, I can feel it. There is about to be mayhem.’

Needless to say, it’s a sign to get out of the way.


A synonym to ça va chauffer is ça va péter, which is even more dramatic in tone. Péter – which is very informal – means ‘explode’ as in 'this is going to blow up'.

You might also want to check out our previous explanation of  the expression péter les plombs.

It's not only for use if you're demonstrating though, there are a wide variety of situations where this could be appropriate.

So ça va chauffer does not necessarily refer to violence, it simply means that a current tension will slide over into some form of argument – delightfully illustrated by the tweet below.

“Look at his face as he sees himself on the big screen. It's going to be heated when they get back home.


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For members


French Expression of the Day: À la traîne

Procrastinators might be used to this expression.

French Expression of the Day: À la traîne

Why do I need to know à la traîne ?

Because you probably would prefer to be the opposite of this expression

What does it mean?

À la traîne – roughly pronounced ah lah trahynn – is actually nothing to do with trains.

It means to “lag behind” or to be “at the end” or “at the bottom of the class”. 

It is the opposite of the expression “en avance” which is used to describe the person or group ‘in the front’ or ‘at the top.’

The expression is likely derived from the verb ‘traîner’ in French means ‘to drag’ – usually used when a physical item is trailing behind.

You might see French media make use of this phrase when discussing a topic or theme that has been on the back-burner or less of a priority, as it is often ‘lagging behind’ other items.

Not to be confused with

This sounds similar to the phrase “en train de,” which has a totally different meaning – it means “in the process of” or “in the course of”.

Use it like this

Elle était à la traîne par rapport au reste de la classe dans l’apprentissage de la table de multiplication. – She is lagging behind the rest of the class in learning the multiplication table.

L’article explique que les salaires des enseignants sont toujours à la traîne par rapport à ceux des autres professions, notamment en ce qui concerne les augmentations de salaire. – The article explains that teachers’ salaries are always trailing behind those of other professions, particularly concerning pay raises.