French idioms #8 - Avoir une panne d'oreiller


It's been a while. Today we'll learn about Avoir une panne d'oreiller, which is a funny phrase. It would literally translate as "To have a pillow breakdown", although "panne" hasn't really any proper translation in english, it's a bit wider than "breakdown".

You can say "j'ai eu une panne d'oreiller" when you show up late somewhere and you have no really good excuse. It means that you couldn't wake up for any reason, without having to specify it. It's a phrase full of imagery, as if your pillow was machine and it stopped working.

"Panne" is usually used to talk about cars or other machines that stop functioning. Panne d'essence (run out of gas), panne de courant (blackout). You can also be "en panne d'inspiration" = to be out of ideas.

"Panne de réveil" is close to "panne d'oreiller", but it specifies that your alarm didn't ring or you didn't hear it.

Careful though, if you say "j'ai eu une panne au lit", it wouldn't mean the same thing as "j'ai eu une panne d'oreiller". It would mean that you have troubles getting hard... ^^

Take care and see you soon !

June 19, 2019


Most people try to give plausible reasons for showing up late, the most common are traffic or train trouble, but we do have something similar in America when we just dont care. "The dog ate it." If anyone tells you the dog ate it that means they have no good reason at all for not doing something. You could even say it when it doesnt make sense. "Why are you late?" "The dog ate it."

June 20, 2019

Hahaha I find this hilarious !

June 20, 2019

"Panne" can also be translated to "failure" which in this case is a bit closer to what this idiom means.

June 20, 2019

Je suis français et j'ai jamais entendu ça mais why not

June 20, 2019

Je suis français aussi, and I confirm this is totally existing as an idiomatic phrase! As a matter of facts, you don't hear it very often and I could even think you would hear it less and less often. But yes, I am 52 and the expression makes sense for me. Also regarding the other type of bed failure, even if, of course and like any Frenchman, this never happened to me personnaly

June 21, 2019

I am trench

June 21, 2019

Watch the bombs!

June 21, 2019

C'est trop drôle XD "J'ai eu une panne au lit" lmao

June 20, 2019
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