Péter les plombs

Péter les plombs
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Informal French Expression

Meaning to freak out, blow a fuse/gasket, lose one’s temper, go postal
Literally

to blow the fuses

Register informal
Pronunciation [pay tay lay plo(n)]
IPA   [pe te le plɔ̃]

Usage notes: The French expression péter les plombs is exactly equivalent to the English "to blow a fuse." Literally, they refer to electrical fuses, essential safety devices that blow when overloaded in order to prevent short circuits and other electrical problems.

Figuratively, both expressions allude to a person’s temper (e.g., he has a short fuse, it doesn’t take much for him to overload). So péter les plombs indicates that a person’s fuse has blown and he thus loses his temper.

Par exemple…

En voyant les dégâts, Jean a pété les plombs !   Upon seeing the damage, Jean blew a fuse!
J’ai peur de lui dire, elle va péter les plombs.   I’m afraid to tell her, she’s going to freak out.

Variation: péter un plomb

Synonyms: see the list at péter un câble

 Related lesson

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Péter les plombs
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