KudoZ home » English to French » Idioms / Maxims / Sayings

to open a can of worms

French translation: donner un coup de pied dans une fourmilière

Advertisement

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:to open a can of worms
French translation:donner un coup de pied dans une fourmilière
Entered by: Jerome Elhaik
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

03:00 Mar 25, 2007
English to French translations [PRO]
Idioms / Maxims / Sayings
English term or phrase: to open a can of worms
How would you say, "I don't want to open a can of worms"
(such as by bringing up an unpleasant topic)?

I understand you can say "C'est un guêpier" for "It's a can of worms" but it's not quite the same meaning.
kgkroo
Local time: 13:06
donner un coup de pied dans une fourmilière
Explanation:
Here are two useful links, the first of which is an astonishingly long debate about your question. They don't come up with THE perfect answer, but I selected the one which seems the most appropriate to me. Have a good read (you can choose english or french)...
The other one is a much shorter post.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 28 minutes (2007-03-25 03:28:52 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

second thought, "donner un coup de pied dans LA fourmilière sounds better".
Selected response from:

Jerome Elhaik
Local time: 19:06
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Advertisement


Summary of answers provided
3 +6donner un coup de pied dans une fourmilièreJerome Elhaik
3 +5ouvrir la boîte de Pandore
rousselures
4déclencher un sac de nœuds / ouvrir la boîte de Pandore
Tony M
4(être) un sac de noeudDelphine Joly


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +6
donner un coup de pied dans une fourmilière


Explanation:
Here are two useful links, the first of which is an astonishingly long debate about your question. They don't come up with THE perfect answer, but I selected the one which seems the most appropriate to me. Have a good read (you can choose english or french)...
The other one is a much shorter post.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 28 minutes (2007-03-25 03:28:52 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

second thought, "donner un coup de pied dans LA fourmilière sounds better".


    Reference: http://www.nakedtranslations.com/fr/2005/03/000364.php
    Reference: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=344973
Jerome Elhaik
Local time: 19:06
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  kgk: Thanks! I already saw the wordreference answer and found it lacking. Appreciated finding nakedtranslations answer.
10 mins

agree  katsy
5 hrs

agree  Melzie
5 hrs

agree  Jock: Bien trouvé !
6 hrs

agree  Lidija Lazic
9 hrs

agree  Nathalie Elson
1 day3 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +5
ouvrir la boîte de Pandore


Explanation:
Ce n'est pas tout à fait ça, mais c'est la première idée qui s'impose à moi...

rousselures
Canada
Local time: 13:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  katsy: peut-être mieux que la 1ère réponse, que j'aime aussi, car ça donne l'idée de ne pas être totalement conscient des conséquences, alors que la première proposition, peut contenir l'idée de vouloir semer la zizanie, enfin, il me semble
4 hrs
  -> Merci Katsy!

agree  Cl Te
5 hrs
  -> Merci Claudine!

agree  Nicolas Coyer
13 hrs
  -> Merci!

agree  Irina Stanescu
13 hrs
  -> Merci Irina!

agree  Sophieanne
14 hrs
  -> Merci Sophieanne!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
(être) un sac de noeud


Explanation:
a can of worms is un sac de noeuds according to the mini dictionnary called talking animals.
I would emphasize it : c'est un VRAI sac de noeud

But is it the meaning you want to convey ?

Delphine Joly
Local time: 13:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
déclencher un sac de nœuds / ouvrir la boîte de Pandore


Explanation:
Both these suggestions are given by Robert + Collins, the former being marked as more familiar in style, and the latter as 'literary'

Tony M
France
Local time: 19:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Jock: "Déclencher" before "un sac de noeuds" does not sound idiomatic to me (Google confirms my view.) Really strange it's in R C./I think so.
23 mins
  -> I rather felt the same, but I suppose it's in the sense of 'unleash'?

neutral  Sophieanne: On dit souvent "quel sac de noeuds!", mais on ne le déclenche pas, effectivement...
8 hrs
  -> Merci, Sophieanne ! Ils ont bien dû le trouver qq part !
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also:



Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search