The French phrase "Il fait un froid de canard" explained

Get prepared to find out all the things you need to know about the basic idiom “Il fait un froid de canard”.

More precisely, it includes a full explanation of what it is and how to use it in a dialogue with an audio example. But wait, we also added some super useful stuff like dialogue example, synonyms, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Oh and… you will find more of these idioms tutorials on this page and the ultimate directory of all our French words pages on this page. Happy learning!

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French to English

How to pronounce?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


It means “It’s freezing cold” but literally means: “It’s a cold of duck

This expression comes from duck hunting, which is practiced mostly during winter. During the hunt, the hunter must remain motionless, on the lookout, and let the cold penetrate him to the bone while waiting for one of his poor victims to get close enough.

How to use

This is an informal expression. Juste like “Ça caille” (It’s freezing)

Use instead “Il fait froid” (It’s cold) for formal contexts.

Synonyms and similarities

  • Il fait froid → It’s cold
  • Ça caille → It’s freezing
  • J’ai froid → I’m cold
  • Je suis glacé(e) → I’m frozen

Example in a story with English translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Allons skier !
Let's go skiing!
Nicolas et Brigitte adoraient skier.
Nicolas and Brigitte loved skiing.
Ils aimaient plusieurs stations de ski, mais Chamonix était leur préférée.
They enjoyed several ski resorts, but Chamonix was their favorite.
Chamonix était la station des premiers jeux olympiques d’hiver en mille neuf cent vingt-quatre.
Chamonix was the station of the first Winter Olympics in 1924.
Les infrastructures étaient donc de classe mondiale.
So, it had world-class infrastructures.
Nicolas taquinait souvent Brigitte en lui rappelant l’époque où elle n’aimait pas le ski…
Nicolas Brigitte was often teasing Brigitte by reminding her when she didn’t like skiing…
Elle boudait et disait :
She was sulking and saying:
Brigitte:   Il fait un froid de canard ! Je ne veux pas y aller !
It’s freezing cold! I don’t want to go!
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