Il y a quelque chose qui cloche

Il y a quelque chose qui cloche
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Informal French Expression

Meaning something’s amiss, something isn’t right
Literally there is something that is wrong
Register normal
Pronunciation [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?

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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