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French expression of the day: Partir en sucette

Why lollipops are a sign of madness in France.

French expression of the day: Partir en sucette

Why do I need to know partir en sucette?

Because it's arguably the cutest of the many French ways to say that things are getting out of control.

What does it mean?

Partir en sucette can be roughly translated to ‘go lollipop’, which really means something “is about to get out of hand”.

You can use it as a warning of coming chaos, saying, in your best Game of Thrones winter-is-coming voice, that je sens que ca peut partir en sucette – I feel like things are about to get out of control

Partir en sucette means that something is taking an unexpected turn – 'going off the rails' – usually not in a positive sense.

For example, if you've organised a party and invited a couple of dozen too many people. You could tell your friends that

Je pense qu'on va ranger les vases avant que ca part en sucette – I think we should clear out the vases before this spirals out of control.

However, if you're talking about your party and saying that c'etait ouf comment c'est parti en sucette – it was crazy how mad things got – while smiling, it's pretty obvious that the getting-out-of hand part was not unpleasant, albeit unexpected.

But mostly partir en sucette is used about something that was not supposed to get out of control.


There are optional ways of saying partir en sucette in French.

Partir en cacahuète (go nuts) or partir en couille (go balls) are both options that mean the same, although couille is pretty colloquial and might best be avoided if you're chatting with respectable types.

Another option is partir en vrille, which means that something spins out of control.

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French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything – and more – asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève – pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv – translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) – but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them – and more – and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.

It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people – particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes – This question of education is all the more striking because “good student” syndrome generally affects women