French Language Blog

Heat-Related Vocabulary in French Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Culture, Vocabulary

For the past couple of days, anyone in France who’s stepped foot outside or even opened a window has certainly noticed that Mother Nature a allumé le chauffage à fond (has turned the heat up on high)! It’s actually the result of hot winds making their way up from Africa. France isn’t the only one experiencing une canicule (a heatwave), either: l’Espagne, le Portugal, et certaines parties du Royaume-Uni (Spain, Portugal, and parts of the UK) have all been affected.

It’s a big deal, too. Temperatures in some places are soaring up to 42°C (107.6°F), and for un pays qui n’est pas habitué à la chaleur (a country that isn’t used to the heat), this can be very dangerous. Unlike the US, not many houses have la clim (shortened form of climitisation, meaning air conditioning). On beautiful days, French people open les volets (the blinds/shutters) of their windows and let the air blow in. When the air coming through is hot, though, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose. Even if some homes are equipped with an air conditioner, it doesn’t mean you can always run them. À cause de la canicule (because of the heatwave), 830,000 households lost power overnight in the western side of the country this week. In 2003, 14,802 heat-related deaths were reported after temperatures spiked in France.

This year, to keep their citizens cool, the French government has put into a place un plan anti-canicule (anti-heatwave plan). If you’re nice and sweaty in Paris, they’ve opened public air-conditioned rooms. They’ve also released the graphics to help the public.

Today we’re going to look at some vocabulary related to heat and the words chaud and chaleur.

Describing Hot Weather
Il fait chaud. – It’s hot out.
Il y a du soleil. – It’s sunny
Il fait beau. – It’s nice out
Il fait lourd. – It’s heavy out.
Il fait __ degrés. – It’s __ degrees (don’t forget to use Celsius!)
la canicule – heatwave
un coup de soleil – sunburn
cramer – to burn (here, because of the sun)

Words/Expressions with “Chaleur”
la chaleur – heat / warmth
la chaleur accablante – sweltering heat
un coup de chaleur – heatstroke
être en chaleur – to be in heat (for animals)
faire une chaleur épouvantable – to be unbearably hot
l’humidité – humidity
un échange de chaleur – heat exchange (physics)
un four à chaleur tournante  – convection oven
une bouffée de chaleur – hot flash
une perte de chaleur – heat loss

Words/Expressions with “Chaud”
chaud(e) – hot
à chaud – immediate, initial
au chaud – warm (food, for example)
avoir chaud – to be hot (don’t use être here! read below.)
avoir eu chaud – narrow escape/”a close one”
avoir le sang chaud – to be hot-blooded
battre le fer quand il est chaud – strike it while the iron’s hot
chaud devant – coming through (said when you’re carrying things and need people to move)
chaud lapin – horndog (familiar)
un commentaire à chaud – a comment made right after an event
craindre le chaud – to be sensitive to heat
crever de chaud – to bake/boil (from being in the heat)
être chaud – to be horny (familiar)
faire chaud au coeur – to warm your heart
faire des gorges chaudes – make fun of someone
garder au chaud – to keep something warm
des habits chauds – warm clothes
mettre au chaud – to put something away for a rainy day
mourir de chaud – to die from heat
ni faire chaud ni froid/cela ne me fait ni chaud ni froid – I don’t mind either way
pleurer à chaudes larmes – crying, but with many, many tears
une réaction à chaud – a lively response
refiler la patate chaude – to drop/get rid of something/someone bothersome or annoying
souffler le chaud et le froid – blow hot and cold (alternate between 2 differing opinions)
un chaud et froid – a sudden drop in temperature

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments section below!

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!


  1. Yana:

    Salut, je pense c’est il fait chaud et pas il faut chaud 🙂