‘Paté in the armpits’ – 10 ways to say you’re sweating in French

After an unsettled start to the summer, things are hotting up in France. Luckily, the French language is rich with ways to express that you're feeling somewhat hot and bothered.

'Paté in the armpits' - 10 ways to say you’re sweating in French
Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was more than a little damp after he delivered a speech on the closing day of the Socialist Party Summer Congress in 2015. Photo: AFP
After an unusually cold and wet start to July, temperatures across France are rising, while the south east of the country is seeing particularly scorching days.

Chances are that, if don’t live inside a fridge, you’ll be dripping with sweat at several points during the next few weeks.
Thankfully, there are several ways of exclaiming in French that you’re feeling rather warm.
1. Suer comme un porc 

First the classic ‘sweating like a pig’ also exists in French. Suer comme un porc means exactly the same as the English variant and is not the most original expression on the list, but it’s a safe bet.

Je dois rentrer pour me doucher avant le dîner, j’ai sué comme un porc aujourd’hui. – I have to go back home and shower before the dinner, I’ve been sweating like a pig today.

2. Transpirer comme un bœuf

‘To sweat like a bullock’ is a very common French way of saying that you’re sweating like a pig (some say it’s even more common than suer comme un porc).

Je n’ai pas trop envie de sortir ce soir, on va transpirer comme des bœufs ! – I don’t really want to go out tonight, we will sweat like pigs!

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

Paris can be scorching hot in the summer. Photo: AFP 

3. Suinter
Suinter means ‘to ooze’, but the expression je suinte literally means ‘I am melting drop by drop’, which is a pretty telling way of saying that it’s a little too hot out for your taste.
If you’re sat in the sun and would like to move into the shade, you could say, ça vous dérange si on bouge à l’ombre ? Je suinte tellement, c’est insupportable. – Would you guys mind if we move into the shade? I’m melting, it’s unbearable.
4. Fondre
Fondre means ‘to melt’, so if you say je fonds it means ‘I’m melting’. Pretty self-explanatory. Tu veux qu’on rentre ? Tu es en train de fondre comme une petite glace au soleil. – Do you want us to go back home? You’re melting like an ice cream in the sun.

When you’re practically dripping with sweat, you can say that you’re ‘swimming’. Photo: AFP

5. Etre en nage

This expression means that ‘to be swimming’, which means that you are practically bathing in your own sweat. A similar expression is être en sueur (sweating), but être en nage implies that you’re sweating a very large volume.

Ca fait une heure que je suis debout sous le soleil, je suis en nage. – I’ve been standing out in the sun for an hour, I’m sweating buckets.

6. Perdre les eaux

Perdre les eaux means ‘to lose water’. Normally this expression signifies when a woman’s water breaks before she gives birth – but you can also use it about sweating excessively.

Il fait plus que 40C ! Je sais, je perds les eaux là, il faut bien s’hydrater. – It’s more than 40C outside! I know, I’m sweating so much, we need to hydrate well.

7. Avoir les mains moites

This expression refers to your hands only and means ‘to have sweaty hands’. Je n’ai pas trop envie de lui serrer la main, mes mains sont tellement moites. – I don’t really want to shake hands with him/her, my hands are so sweaty.

Feeling like you’re boiling yet? Photo: AFP

9. Avoir des auréoles sous les bras

In French, when you have sweat rings under your arms, they’re called ‘halos’. Auréoles sous les bras literally translates to ‘halos beneath the arms’, which is a pretty way of describing dark and malodorous sweat rings.

Tu devrais changer ta chemise avant l’interview, tu as des auréoles sous les bras. – You should change shirts before the interview, you have sweat rings under your arms.

You can also say avoir des rillettes sous les bras, but it’s less commonly used. Rillette is similar to paté so you are basically saying that you have chunks of meat paste in your armpits. Tasty.

10. Avoir le rideau qui colle aux fenêtres 

This expression translates as ‘to have the curtain sticking to the windows’. Rideau (curtain) here refers to your underpants and fenêtres (windows) to your butt cheeks.

Il fait tellement chaud, à chaque fois que je me relève, j’ai le rideau qui colle aux fenêtres. – It’s so hot, every time I get up my knickers are stuck to my bum.

It’s pretty vulgar so don’t use it with your French boss or mother-in-law, but if you’re among close friends you could impress them with your slang skills. 

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Nine of our favourite French words and expressions of the day

From 'Monsieur Dupont' to a 'Flasher', via an unsavoury metaphor involving flies and a word for meat-lovers, here's a roundup of some of our favourite French words and expressions of the day.

Nine of our favourite French words and expressions of the day

Every weekday, The Local publishes a French word or phrase of the day, with the emphasis on slang, sayings, colloquialisms and (sometimes) swearing. Our aim is to introduce readers to the words and phrases that they won’t learn in French class, but they definitely will hear during the course of everyday life in France.

We’ve been publishing a daily word since 2018, so by now we have a fairly hefty back catalogue – you can find it HERE. Members of The Local can also sign up to our Word of the Day mailing list and get each day’s word or phrase delivered straight to your mailbox.

Here’s a selection of the words and phrases we published in January;

1. Monsieur Dupont

You might know someone named Dupont, after all, it’s a fairly common name in France. And, yet, Monsieur Dupont is not always real – in fact the name is frequently used in a metaphorical context to signify an everyman figure, or someone whose identity is not known.

Pronounced: miss-yur doo-ponn 

Learn more about France’s ‘John Doe’ here.

2. Flasher 

You might be curious why French newspapers are writing about the number of “serial flasheurs” on the country’s roads. But it’s not what you think as this word is a classic faux ami (false friend). Flasher in French does not mean – as it does in English – someone who has exposed themselves in public.

In fact it means either taking a photograph, shining a (metaphorical) spotlight on something or falling head-over-heels in love. The photographic meaning is the most common, particularly in reference to being photographed by a speed camera.

Pronounced: flah-shay 

Find out more here.

3. Larguer les amarres

This originally nautical expression now has a less literal meaning to “let go” of something or launch something new. It’s most commonly heard in the context of a new start like moving house or starting a new job, or the end of something – in particular the end of a love affair.

Pronounced: lar-gay lays ah-mahr 

Find out more here.

4. Être bouleversé

If dinosaurs could talk, they may have used this French phrase to describe being hit by the asteroid. The word can be used in both extremely happy and extremely sad situations, to describe being either delighted or devastated by a turn of events.

Perhaps its closest English synonym is ‘bowled over’.

Pronounced eh truh bool vehr say

We explain how to use it here.

5. Enculer les mouches

Enculer les mouches has an extremely crude literal translation but as a phrase is actually not all that offensive (although it’s definitely casual).

In English we might call someone who is very picky over grammar and spelling a ‘pedant’, in French it’s the distinctly more dramatic ‘sodomiser of flies’. Interestingly, French is not the only language to have a very rude phrase for pedants, others include ‘comma fucker’ and ‘little dot shitter’.

Pronounced: ahn koo lay lay moosh 

Learn more here.

6. Viandard

We know that traditional French cuisine is quite meat-heavy and the French love their meat. However viandard has two meanings – the first being simply a person who loves meat, the second being an unscrupulous person who exploits others for gain. The secondary meaning is though to come from the hunting world.

Pronounced: vee-ahn-darr

We explain fully here.

7. Vœux

Vœux is the plural form of the word vœu, and is useful at weddings and other solemn occasions because it means ‘vow’. But the reason we have included it in our January roundup is because at the start of the year it is common for politicians, CEOs and other leaders to make ‘vows’ to their electorate or employees. 

Pronounced: vuh

Learn more here.

8. Amortisseur

This word might be already familiar to you if you are unlucky enough to have car trouble in France – it means shock absorber. But it can also be used in a metaphorical sense to describe a device or plan that cushions the blow or softens the impact, and in 2023 has a very specific meaning relating to electricity bills.

Pronounced: ah-more-tee-zur 

Let us tell you more here.

9. 6h pile

As any dictionary will tell you, the main meaning of the French word pile is a battery. However it can be used to mean “exact” or “sharp” when used to describe a moment in time – so 6h pile means “6am sharp” or “6am on the dot”. It’s also used in several phrases and expressions relating to time.

Pronounced: peel 

Full details here.