On a la locution verbale « partir en live » pour « être pris dans une spirale incontrôlable, prendre une tournure fâcheuse », synonyme de partir en vrille, composé avec le mot anglais live (Wiktionnaire). Or l'entrée live au Wiktionnaire (ou en anglais directement) ne contient absolument aucune information qui pourrait (m')aider à comprendre le sens de l'emploi de live dans la locution (et un quart de siècle d'utilisation de la langue anglaise n'est d'aucun secours semble-t-il). Le DHLF recense l'adjectif et la locution adverbiale pour « en direct, en public, sur scène » à la mode dans les années 1980 et basé sur le sens anglais « en vie, vivant » mais on nous dit que ça ne correspond à rien en langue anglaise (DHLF). Ça ne semble pas particulièrement utile pour comprendre comment et pourquoi live est employé dans la locution. Ou il y aurait un lien entre le direct et la tournure fâcheuse, un lien avec la charge électrique ? Ou c'est purement une transformation morphologique de vrille en live avec l'emprunt dans le moule de la locution ??

Peut-on expliquer pourquoi « partir en live » est synonyme de partir en vrille, comment et pourquoi live est employé ainsi que la genèse de la locution ?

  • Peut-être « partir en vrille et en direct » devant quelqu’un ou une assemblée.
    – Personne
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


I think the notion of control and the potential negative consequences of "losing/being out of control" in a live [televised] broadcast or appearance is behind the negative connotations of "partir en live" in French, this in spite of its literal counterpart in English ("going/to go live") (merriam-webster.com) being devoid of the same pessimistic assumption that things that can go wrong will, as per "Murphy's Law" (wikipedia.org), always go wrong [when something "goes live"].

(Although you don't ask directly whether the expression at issue is a true anglicism, to the extent that it might help explain why your 25 years of experience with English doesn't seem to help you in this instance [just as my 65 years' worth didn't help me], this difference in meaning between the French version and its English counterpart is why I would not call "partir en live" an "anglicisme" [as fr.wiktionary.org does in your question's first link], but rather an example of "pinch[ing] and reinvent[ing] [thelocal.fr, 8th item down] or at most a "mélange de Français et d'Anglais" [originedesmots.blogspot.com].)

Back to the importance of control, both the thelocal.fr and the originedesmots links in the above parenthetical contain the notion of "losing control" in their respective discussions of "partir en live."

Whether or not the fear of the potential negative consequences of the loss of control associated with "going live" justified the French "reinvention" of that English expression to assume the worst, the fact is that French's "partir en live" does seem to assume the worst, even to the extent of equating it to (and making it synonymous with) the dire consequences [justifiably] associated with an airplane that is spinning/spiraling downward out of control (i.e., "qui part en vrille").

Regarding the possible origins of "partir en live," the originedesmots site mentions (in February 2013) that:

L'origine de cette expression est tout à fait récente, et provient de la culture télévisuelle

and gives (from March 11, 1984 [liberation.fr]):

Un exemple de moment de télévision qui part en live est celui où Gainsbarre brûle un billet de 500 francs devant la France toute entière.

  • Thanks, indeed some form of reinvention. It's really not clear why no one can really explain, maybe it's too early for that and this is trending for some reason. Or maybe native speakers thought I was coming down on the expression with my statement that I couldn't leverage my knowledge of English. In any case I've thought about it. Blame it on verlan is my new moto when I can't explain something like that. It's close enough to vrille, I mean as much as I can perceive meuf to be from femme etc. Also I guess you have to be familiar with parti en vrille, and I'm not...
    – user19187
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 5:05
  • It's like I don't feel this crash and burn in that « partir en vrille » or en live. For me typically I would pick a vrille to be when you roll entirely along the axis of the direction of the plane for instance, like a jet fighter can do, and not the spinning down toward ground idea. Because of my lack of familiarity it's a show stopper right there, whether it's live or vrille, I'm not reading it as capoter, mal virer/tourner in my mind. Anyways, long story short SSDD. I blame it on verlan as a working theory. Cheers!
    – user19187
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 5:08
  • Also the example with Gainsbarre, well le billet est aussi parti... en fumée. I find it weird that I can read in something with that verb again, which has nothing to do with the expression in the Q.
    – user19187
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 5:20

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