Avoir eu chaud and more French phrases with the word ‘hot’

This year has not been as hot as previous years. We look at three French expression around the word chaud

17 December 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

This year temperatures in France have been cooler overall than in the previous seven years.

Météo France data shows that this summer, for the first time in six year, France did not experience a widespread heatwave.

The country has also seen some very low temperatures, notably -24,9°C in l'Aiguille du Midi (Haute-Savoie) on November 30.

On average, temperatures have been 0.2°C higher than between 1981 and 2010 but cooler than in the past seven years.

We look at three French expressions with the word chaud:

Avoir eu chaud (literally ‘to have had heat’):

This expression means to have narrowly escaped something, such as [for example] nearly being caught cheating by a teacher or avoiding being hit with a ball that had been kicked in your direction.

It dates to at least 1829, when it was recorded in the anonymous text Mémoires d'un forban philosophe. 

The expression perhaps stems from the association of danger with heat. To approach something potentially harmful would therefore mean to feel the heat (danger) it exudes more and more.

Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide (literally ‘a scalded cat fears cold water’):

This expression refers to the distrust one feels when found in a situation that has previously proven dangerous or caused pain.

An English equivalent might be ‘once bitten, twice shy’.

The expression dates to the 13th century. It was likely popularised in the famous work Le Roman de Renart (Reynard the Fox), where a cat that once fell into hot water and burned itself comes to fear even cold water. It is used in the form l'échaudé craint l'eau (‘the scalded fears the water’).

Ne faire ni chaud ni froid (literally ‘to make neither hot nor cold’):

This expression means to be indifferent.

It draws on the opposition of hot and cold. When one is in a pleasant climate that is neither too hot nor too cold, the temperature does not bother them thus they are indifferent to it.

The expression can be applied to any given situation.

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