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French expression of the day: Transpirer comme un bœuf

Why France transforms to a land of sweaty oxen during heatwaves.

French expression of the day: Transpirer comme un bœuf
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know transpirer comme un bœuf?

With temperatures soaring across France, chances are you may feel like this in the coming days.

What does it mean?

Transpirer comme un bœuf literally translates to 'sweat like an bullock'.

Bœuf means both beef and the animal it came from, but in this case the word refers to the male cattle rather than the edible steak.

The idea is that cattle tend to sweat a lot and large amounts, so comparing yourself to a sweaty oxen signals that you're feeling extremely hot.

The English equivalent is 'sweating like a pig', which also exists as an expression in French – suer comme un porc.

You can also use suer comme un bœuf, which means the same.

Use it like this

Je n'en peux plus de cette chaleur, je transpire comme un bœuf. – I can't stand this heat anymore, I'm sweating like a pig.

Travailler en pantalon pendant la canicule.. ça fait transpirer comme un bœuf.. – Working while wearing pants during the heatwave.. It makes you sweat like a pig..

Il faut que je me douche, le ventilateur était en panne toute la journée au bureau donc on a transpiré comme des bœufs. – I have to shower, the fan at work stopped working so we've been sweating like pigs all day.


Suer comme un porc – sweat like a pig

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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.