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Informal French Expression
|Meaning||to lose it, freak out, go ballistic|
|Literally||to burst a cable|
|Pronunciation||[pay tay oo(n) kahbl]|
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.
|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!|
- péter une durite – “to burst a radiator hose”
- péter les plombs – “to blow the fuses”
- péter un plomb – “to blow a fuse”
- disjoncter – "to disconnect, trip a breaker"
*Péter also has a familiar meaning that can only be used intransitively (without a direct object): "to pass gas, fart."