Péter un câble

Péter un câble
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Informal French Expression

Meaning to lose it, freak out, go ballistic
Literally to burst a cable
Register informal
Pronunciation French sound files [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.

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Péter un câble - French idiom

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