Péter un câble

Péter un câble
Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Informal French Expression

Meaning to lose it, freak out, go ballistic
Literally to burst a cable
Register informal
Pronunciation [pay tay oo(n) kahbl]
IPA   [pe te œ̃ kablə]

Usage notes: The informal* meaning of the French verb péter is "burst, pop, snap," and this is the key to understanding the French expression péter un câble (as well as several synonyms). When a person gets really angry and has a fit, the French say that he "bursts a cable," which always makes me think of that vein you sometimes see throbbing on a furious person’s temple.

Par exemple…

Quand il a entendu la nouvelle, il a pété un câble.   When he heard the news, he went ballistic.
Je commence à péter un câble !   I’m starting to freak out!


  • disjoncter – literally, "to disconnect, trip a breaker"
  • exploser de colère – "to explode with anger"
  • péter une durite – “to burst a radiator hose”
  • péter les plombs – “to blow the fuses”
  • péter un plomb – “to blow a fuse”
  • piquer une crise – “to provoke a crisis”

* Péter also has a familiar meaning that can only be used intransitively (without a direct object): "to pass gas, fart."

  Conjugations: Péter is a stem-changing verb.

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Péter un câble - French idiom
Stay up to date with Lawless French!
Twitter Facebook Quora Instagram Pinterest YouTube RSS Newsletter

Any Questions?

 Get help on the forum.

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.