1. stephlittle Senior Member

    English, USA
    Bonjour à tous,

    I came across the phrase "battre de l'aile" in the following sentences:

    "Elle a quitté la fac où elle vivait avec une amie. Quand ça a battu de l'aile, elle est rentrée à la maison."

    The context gives me the feeling that it means "to not work/pan out" but I just wanted to know if there are other meanings or better suggestions.

  2. cropje_jnr

    cropje_jnr Senior Member

    Wollongong, Australia
    English - Australia
    Flailing? :D

    (Source: Wiktionnaire).
  3. stephlittle Senior Member

    English, USA
    Oh thank you! That makes perfect sense!
  4. fabfab Senior Member

    France - Grenoble
    French - France
    Could a native English speaker suggest an equivalent idiom please?
  5. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    Flailing ?!

    The sentence is a bit strange : "she left the university where she was living with a girlfriend (how could she be living in a university ?). When things started to get tough/sour, she came back home" .
  6. Sedulia

    Sedulia Senior Member

    Paris, France
    **Literate** American English
    I would say, "when that didn't work out."
  7. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    Or also "when things didn't work out" ...
  8. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    May be also - but to be confirmed by a native - when things started going wrong

    In case the context would be different than that of this thread, you may find additional ideas/idioms in this thread

    To be in a shaky state seems to be common usage.
  9. Marcia King New Member

    Scotland, UK
    English - British
    In the context, I like “when that didn’t work out”. The phrase is ambiguous and refers vaguely to two elements. What didn’t work out? Just the relationship or the whole university experience? (BTW in the UK we can perfectly well talk of living “in a university”. First year students are often required to live in a university residence on campus. Even if you are in student digs near the uni, you can still talk of living in a university. “University” is not just a building but also an experience.)

    For those of you who suggested “flailing”, you may have been thinking of “flagging”, which means getting tired or losing energy. This is very near to the French expression but doesn’t fit all contexts. You can say that the relationship "was flagging” or “running out of steam” but you couldn’t apply this translation directly to the university experience.

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