For members


French Phrase of the Day: Mettre la pâtée

A metaphor ideal for a sporting or political context with a history lesson attached.

French Phrase of the Day: Mettre la pâtée
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Mettre la pâtée?

Because there can never be enough imaginative ways to say your favourite sports team or athlete beat / stuffed / cheesed / walloped / pulverised / powdered / shellacked their most recent opposition. 

It could even be used in a political context in cases of a landslide victory.

What does it mean?

Mettre la pâtée translates as ‘[to] put the mash’, and is the French equivalent of beat to a pulp, to smash, to rip-apart – words and phrases often used in sports reporting to indicate a convincing victory or performance.

More interesting, perhaps, is its claimed derivation, which – according to some – takes us all the way back to Joan of Arc and the 100 Years War. After the French cavalry’s humiliation at Agincourt in 1415, morale in the French army was low.

Enter Jeanne d’Arc, whose faith reinvigorated the troops of Charles VII, who killed or captured 2,500 English soldiers at the cost of just 100 of their own troops. That battle took place near Orléans, in the town of Patay. You can probably see where this is going.

This landslide victory gave rise to the expression “mise la Patay”, to describe a landslide victory – which, over the centuries, became pâtée.

Of course, that could all be apocryphal (a lot of French expressions are said to derive from either Joan of Arc or Napoleon) … But it’s a nice story.

Use it like this

France est en train de mettre la pâtée aux les Gallois – France are crushing the Welsh right now

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
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