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French phrase of the day: Péter le feu

Fortunately for all concerned, this does not translate literally.

French phrase of the day: Péter le feu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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.

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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For members


French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

You'll want to be sure to only use this French expression in the right contexts.

French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

Why do I need to know les toxicos?

Because you might want to avoid using this term if you simply want to describe someone as behaving in a toxic manner.

What does it mean?

Les toxicos roughly pronounced lay tox-ee-kohs – is the French slang term to describe “drug addict”.

The English equivalent might be “junkie”.

The word comes from a French word for drug addiction more generally. “Toxicomanie” refers to the physical and/or psychological dependence on chemical substances without prescription or therapeutic justification.

The official term for a person addicted to substances is “toximane” – and les toxicos is a shortened, more informal version of the term. 

In French, you can also use the term “dépendance” to refer to addiction as well.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Les stups

Some may use this term in a derogatory way, though its usage depends on context and the person speaking.

Use it like this

Le politicien a critiqué le manque de financement de la police et a cité le fait qu’il y avait trop de toxicos près de la gare. – The politician criticised a lack of funding for police and cited the fact that there were too many drug addicts by the train station.

L’homme m’a dit que je devais faire attention en traversant le parc car il y avait beaucoup de toxicos, mais je me sentais en sécurité.– The man told me that I should be careful when crossing the park because there are many junkies, but I felt safe.