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French Expression of the Day: Avoir des casseroles (au cul)

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French Expression of the Day: Avoir des casseroles (au cul)
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond"

This French expression is good to know whenever there is a scandal in the headlines.

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Why do I need to know avoir des casseroles (au cul)?

Because, although it sounds completely nuts, French people actually use this expression quite a lot.

What does it mean?

Avoir des casseroles - roughly pronounced ah-vwar day kass-ehr-ohl - technically translates to "to have pots and pans".

French people tend to complete the expression by au cul which means ‘in the arse’. (Cul is more colloquial than fesses, which means ‘butt’).

Avoir des casseroles au cul does not however refer to someone literally having kitchenware near their rear end.

French people use it about people (often politicians) who have had their reputation tarnished by scandal. 

You don't need to say au cul, just avoir des casseroles is enough (the hanging-from-the-butt thing is implied).

A synonym is avoir un cadavre dans le placard - 'having a skeleton in the closet'.

Why pans?

Pans make a lot of noise. The expression is inspired by the image of children tying metal objects around the tail of a dog so that, when the dog moves, it make a lot of noise. 

No matter how hard the person tries, they can't escape the "bang-bang-bang" of the thing they did once that everyone now associate them with.

Let's say you're Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French former IMF director who turned world famous after he was escorted out near-naked by police from a hotel in New York after an alleged sex attack.

Even if he was never convicted of anything, now il a des casseroles collés au cul - He has pans glued to his arse.

That means that whenever DSK speaks up, even if it's on the most boring economic topic imaginable, the metaphorical saucepans start banging together and people think of the scandal.

And so it goes for most politicians with a blemished record.

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There are other variations of the expression that carry the same meaning. For example, you might also hear someone say Il a des casseroles qui lui collent aux fesses - He has pans stuck to his butt. You might also hear the expression as avoir des scandales au cul - having scandals up your arse.

Finally, if you have a scandal dragging behind you all the time, you might say Trainer des casseroles (dragging pans).

Use it like this

L'homme politique ayant eu une liaison illicite, tout le monde dit maintenant qu'il a des casseroles. - The politician had an illicit affair, and now everyone says he has skeletons in his closet.

Je ne voterai pas pour lui. Il a des casseroles. - I will not vote for him. He has a history of scandal.

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