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être dans le pétrin

The French expression “être dans le pétrin” translates literally to “to be in the kneading trough”.

English meanings:

  • to be in a mess
  • to be in a fix
  • to be in a jam
  • to be in a tight spot

French meanings:

  • avoir un gros problème – Literally: to have a big problem
  • être dans une situation d’où il semble impossible de sortirto be in a situation that seems impossible to get out of

Example sentence:

  • Il a fini par se faire virer par son parton et maintenant il est dans le pétrin. He ended up getting fired by his boss and now he’s in a real mess.


Related expressions:

  • se fourrer dans un sale pétrin – to get yourself into a real mess
  • se sortir du pétrin – to get yourself out of a mess

more expressions

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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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