Source: https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/blow-someone-out-of-the-water

The English phrase to blow someone out of the water has literal origins, but it is more commonly used in a figurative sense today. It means to utterly destroy someone in a battle or competition.

If you tell someone, “Sarah’s report completely blew Steve’s out of the water.” you mean that Sarah’s was of a much higher standard.

The group's definitive album, and one of the most daring debut albums ever recorded by anybody. At the time, it blew all of the progressive/psychedelic competition (the Moody Blues, the Nice, etc.) out of the water.

What is the equivalent in French of this structure (i.e. blow someone out of the water) in a colloquial context ?

  • The second example you give is not an example of someone being beaten in a competition. In what context do you want to use this expression? You just can't assume that every idiom has an equivalent that can be used in any context. Why do you want to use it? Is the destruction hyperbole important to you, or the water bit perhaps? Should it preferably sound harsh? funny? Would slang/colloquial language be ok or not? Apr 3 '19 at 10:02
  • @StéphaneGimenez Je viens de changer le second example.
    – Dimitris
    Apr 3 '19 at 11:02

The exact phrase is “blow so/sth out of the water


A/ To “blow someone out of the water” is an informal phrase (OED); it can be rendered by the equally colloquial French "damer le pion à qqn".

  • She craved for the instant she'd be able to blow her opponent out of the water with a final, percuting argument.
    Elle mourrait d'envie pour cet instant quand elle serait capable de damer le pion à son adversaire avec un argument final et percutant.

Other terms can be used, for instance "éclipser", "écraser", "détruire**;

  • He was blown out of the water by the much greater talent of many competitors.
    Il a été éclipsé par le talent beaucoup plus grand de nombreux concurrents.

  • As a boxer he's been blown out of the water by X, as an actor he never equalled the best in his speciality.
    En tant que boxeur il a été écrasé par X, en tant qu'actor il n'est jamais parvenu à égaler les meilleurs dans sa spécialité.

B/ However, nowadays this expression can have a different meaning; it's used to express that someone is much impressed.

  • That science fiction film blew him out of the water.
    Ce film de science fiction l'a beaucoup impressionné.


When the variant used is “blow something out of the water”, equally informal according to the OED but not the Robert-Collins translation dictionary, a possibility of rendering is "réduire à néant"; "damer le pion à" cannot be used;

  • Sarah’s report completely blew Steve’s out of the water.
    Le rapport/compte rendu/reportage de Sarah a complètement réduit à néant celui de Steve.
    a complètement réduit celui de Steve à néant.

There's bound to be numerous other possibilities ; three of them are listed next ;

  • anéantir, éclipser, écraser


  • The last witness' révélations blew the lawyer's theory out of the water.
    Les révélations du dernier témoins ont anéanti la théorie de l'avocat.

  • The defence literally blew out of the water all tries at proving the defendant's guilt.
    La défence a littéralement écrasé toute tentative de preuve de la culpabilité de l'accusé.

  • The new theory of evolution has blown out of the water completely many religious beliefs.
    La nouvelle théorie de l'évolution a éclipsé complètement de nombreuses croyances religieuses.


A couple of slang alternatives:

Steve s'est fait fumer par Sarah.

Sarah a mis une tôle à Steve.

  • Sais-tu si c'est un emploi familier au figuré pour ruiner ou passer à tabac ou si c'est l'argot pour tuer ? Ça ressemble étrangement au verbe to smoke s.o. en anglais...
    – user19187
    Apr 3 '19 at 22:50
  • @Survenant9r7 Se faire fumer existe bien pour se faire tuer par arme à feu, mais je ne sais pas s'il y a un lien direct avec la même expression pour se faire battre à plates coutures, se prendre une raclée. C'est possible.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 4 '19 at 0:19

In french you can say for instance:

Le rapport de Sarah a complètement surpassé celui de Steve.

Or in a more unformal way:

Le rapport de Sarah a chassé Steve hors de la course.

I'll update my answer if I think about others alternatives.

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