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avoir la moutarde qui monte au nez

The French expression “avoir la moutarde qui monte au nez” translates literally to “to have mustard climbing up to the nose”. The idiom is a metaphor for getting angry. Here are some English meanings:

  • to lose one’s temper
  • to get flared up
  • to see red
  • to get hot under the collar

A French definition on suggests that the idiom means to get overtaken by impatience with anger winning. “Se mettre en colère” is to get angry in French. The expression is said to date back to the 17th century.

La moutarde me monte au nez quand je vois des gens qui refuse de suivre les consignes du gouvernement. I get angry when I see people who refuse to follow the government’s recommendations.

French has several more expressions relating to angry:

  • être vert de rage – Literally to be green with rage
  • s’attirer les foudres de qqnto incur somebody’s anger
  • une bouffée de colère/rage (noun) – a surge of anger

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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