April showers and Giboulées de mars

Yesterday, on my way to the shops, I was caught in what I would describe as a giboulée de mars. Now, as I live in Britain, the nearest translation I have is April shower (even though the de mars part of my French experience suggests that these downpours only occur in March). For me, April showers somehow conjure up an image of lighter, shorter bursts of rain, interspersed with glorious spring sunshine. What I experienced yesterday was much more of a giboulée: sudden, ferocious, and drenching, with a hint of hail – nothing as pleasant as a shower. Explaining that I was caught in a shower just doesn’t seem to do justice to my experience. Or maybe April shower is actually the exact translation of a giboulée, April modifying the inoffensive shower to turn it into something much more unpleasant and powerful? As we head into the weekend, with more such weather on its way, can anyone help me with this most recent translation dilemma?

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:14+00:00 April 8th, 2005|Idioms|3 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Jean April 8, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    No, you’re right – shower is definitely not an adequate description of what I was caught in! Perhaps an instance of the famous British understatement.

  2. Bobby B April 12, 2005 at 11:29 am

    An April shower sounds quite nice to me – not like getting soaked to the skin and battered in the face by little shards of ice, which has happened to me at least once already this month. Clearly not every downpour in April is an “April shower”.

  3. D. April 14, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    In the American south such showers are sometimes called “gully washers” and many other more of less picturesqe terms. There doesn’t seem to be any seasonal link, though.

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