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Word of the day: Trombe

This expression will come in handy this week with bad weather forecast in much of the country.

Word of the day: Trombe
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know trombe?

Because it’s a useful when talking about the weather, but also has various other meanings.

What does it mean?

Trombe literally means waterspout: a rotating column of water formed by a whirlwind over the sea. 

However it’s also an expression for bad weather. Il pleut en trombe means it’s pouring down with rain. Here are a few other common expressions the French use to talk about the weather. 

And when used with the verb démarrer (to take off), en trombe means at great speed, to take off ‘like a shot’ or ‘at full throttle’. It also means ‘to kick start’ something.

Use it like this

D’un coup, il s’est mis a tomber des trombes d’eau – Suddenly, it was chucking it down with rain

S’il atteint le sol, c’est une tornade et s’il touche l’eau, c’est une trombe marine – If it reaches the ground, it’s a tornado and if it touches water, it’s a waterspout.

Les personnes âgées qui traversent la rue ne veulent pas se faire frapper par une voiture qui arrive en trombe. – Older people crossing the street don’t want to get hit by car going at full speed

Je dois démarrer en trombe – I have to hit the ground running


Il pleut des cordes – It’s pouring with rain

Partir comme une flèche – To set off like a shot

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener