1

In French we have an informal, but common expression to describe stuff that suddenly breaks (software programs, machines, etc.) without a clear explanation or warning: "tombé en marche", literaly "fell while running".

Is there something equivalent in spirit, in English?

  • 1
    Nowadays I think the usual expression is crash. – StoneyB Feb 15 '18 at 14:51
  • "It just quit", "It suddenly stopped", "It crashed", "It went catatonic", "BSOD". – Hot Licks Feb 15 '18 at 20:41
  • 1
    Simply fell over is quite idiomatic, and a very direct translation to boot. Prefix with suddenly to match the en marche. – Will Crawford Feb 16 '18 at 2:47
4

Here's an informal phrase:

conk out (informal) 1 (of a machine) break down. ‘my car conked out’ - ODO

Here are a few examples in print:

  • As we got halfway through the exit, the car conked out for good. Hear Me Out by Chidi Asika-Enahoro

  • And when my headlight conked out in Amana, Iowa, I was guided into town by fireflies lighting the way on both sides of the road. College Confidence with ADD by Michael Sandler

  • Our GPS has conked out Fisherman by George Lowe

1

For software, generally "crash" would be the most common term.

For machines, I think we'd probably say that it "broke down".

But you couldn't use the same term in both contexts (computers or machines). If you used "break down" for both, you'd seem like an old fogey who didn't understand computers, and if you used "crash" for both, you'd seem like a hopeless millennial who can't remember ever living without computers.

  • 2
    If a computer failed because of a hardware problem then 'broke down' would be accurate, similarly if a washing machine stopped working because of a software or firmware problem then it could have said to have 'crashed'. Problems with a car's EMS, however, probably shouldn't be referred to as the 'car crashing', that would be confusing. Don't forget that the term 'crash' referring to software failure comes from the read/write head of a hard drive crashing into the disc, usually due to some form of hardware failure. It's all tombé en marche anyway. – BoldBen Feb 15 '18 at 15:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.