Il y a quelque chose qui cloche

Il y a quelque chose qui cloche
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French Expression

Meaning something’s amiss, something isn’t right
Literally there is something that is wrong
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [ee l(ee) ya kel keu shoz kee klush]
IPA   [i l(i)ja kɛl kə ʃoz ki klɔʃ]

Usage notes: Clocher is an old-fashioned French verb meaning "to limp," which eventually evolved to its modern meaning: "to be defective, to have something wrong."

 Clocher has an additional old-fashioned meaning: "to ring, toll" as in a church bell. Native French speakers are always quick to point out that this is coincidental and has nothing to do with il y a quelque chose qui cloche, but it doesn’t really matter: thinking of the "off" clang of a giant, cracked bell is a great way to remember the meaning of this idiomatic expression.

Par exemple…

Je n’arrive pas à trouver le problème, mais il y a quelque chose qui cloche.   I can’t find the problem, but there is something wrong.
Qu’est-ce qui cloche avec toi ?   What’s wrong with you?

Informal variation: Il y a un truc qui cloche

Synonymous expressions

  • ne pas marcher – to not work
  • Quel est le problème ? – What’s the problem?
  • quelque chose ne va pas – something is wrong
  • Qu’est-ce que tu as / il a ? – What’s wrong with you / him?
  • Qu’est-ce qu’il y a ? – What’s wrong?
  • Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas ? – What’s wrong?
  • Qu’est-ce qui se passe ? – What’s wrong?

 Related lessons

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Il y a quelque chose qui cloche

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