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‘Chanter comme une casserole’: Our French expression of the week

As a range of music festivals take place across France, we take a look at a singing-related expression

We look at a singing-related French expression Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

Several music festivals are taking place around France this week, treating visitors to the instrumental pieces and songs from a range of different artists and genres. 

Read more: What’s coming up? The week ahead in France

These musicians clearly have a talent for singing, but we thought it would be interesting to look at a French expression which can be used to describe someone who is not blessed with a tuneful voice. 

Chanter comme une casserole’ (literally: to sing like a saucepan), is a less than complimentary way of referring to someone who cannot sing in tune. 

It suggests that the sound of their voice can be compared to the noise created when two pans are banged together. 

This relates to the way in which English-speakers may say that someone who is tone-deaf ‘has a tin ear’. 

Therefore, if you really hated an actor’s musical performance in a film or show, you might say: “L’acteur principal, il chante comme une casserole” (The main actor cannot carry a tune).

Rather than saying the whole phrase, you can also describe someone simply as a ‘casserole’ to say that they are a bad singer. 

In this way, you might exclaim: “C’est une casserole” or “Quelle casserole!”. 

More expressions involving casseroles 

French-speakers also use the expression ‘passer à la casserole’, which is a familiar way of saying ‘to be killed’ which might translate to ‘to be bumped off’. 

Traîner des casseroles’ (literally: to drag pans) is often used in the world of politics, and refers to a figure who is weighed down by their past actions. 

This person might simply make them more apparent by trying to shake them off, just as they would make the saucepans clang more loudly by trying to untangle themselves from them.

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