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le torchon brûle

The French expression “le torchon brûle” translates literally “the torch burns”. In modern French “torchon”means cloth or dishcloth. However, in old French it means torch. Here’s the meaning of the expression:

  • there is conflict

According to a French definition on, the expression translates to “there is deep disagreement” or “the atmosphere is in dispute”.

Here’s an example sentence:

  • Aux États-Unis le torchon brûle entre le Parti démocrate et parti républicain: les gens commencent à s’affronter violemment dans les rues. There is deep conflict between the democratic and republican parties in the United States. People are starting to violently confront each other in the streets.

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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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