French phrase of the day: Péter le feu

French phrase of the day: Péter le feu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Fortunately for all concerned, this does not translate literally.

Why do I need to know péter le feu?

It's a common French declaration especially among the elderly.

What does it mean?

Péter mean to fart, so péter le feu literally means farting fire.

Fortunately for all concerned that's not the phrase's actual translation and in fact farting fire is a good thing – it means to be in good form, good health or firing on all four cylinders.

So when French newspaper Le Parisien interviewed an indignant pensioner about plans to extend the lockdown for the over-70s, he declared: 

Je pète le feu à 72 ans et je n'apprécierais pas un allongement du confinement – I'm firing on all four cylinders at 72 and I wouldn't appreciate a lengthening of the lockdown.

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It's not only a phrase for the elderly though, anyone can say it if they feel in good form.

Depuis que j'ai découvert le Pilates, j'ai perdu du poids et je pète le feu – Since I discovered pilates I have lost weight and I'm on top form.

Je crois vraiment que cette saison, il va péter le feu – I really believe that this season, he is going to hit his peak.


The verb péter has quite a few uses in casual phrases.

You can use péter les plombes – to blow a fuse or go beserk (in this instance péter is used with its secondary meaning of to burst or explode rather than to fart).

Or péter un câble has a similar meaning – to completely lose it and go up like a bottle of pop.


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