I have heard the following line in the TV series Unité 42:

Ça rame à mort!

Context: after a blackout in the city, a computer expert and police detective is using her computer to search clues about a drone which may have caused the blackout. It seems that the network is slow and she is annoyed.

I assume that "ramer" means "to struggle" in this context. But I'm not sure what "à mort" means. Is it an intensifier?

3 Answers 3


Ça rame means indeed "it's apparently busy and yet is very slow" for a computer, a network connection or a piece of software. The metaphor is that paddling on a boat takes a lot of energy but does not produce a high speed. It is a familiar phrase.

The phrase à mort is colloquial and means "extremely, as much as one could imagine", often for negative connotations. Ex:

J'ai un examen, je suis stressé à mort.

La bagnole devant s'est arrêtée sans raison, j'ai freiné à mort pour pas lui rentrer dedans.

Ça va ? Tu as encore les boules (= to be upset) ?
-Ah ouais, à mort !

  • On a aussi l'expression synonyme « ça rame à fond » càd que l'ordinateur fonctionne au ralenti parce qu'il a déjà consommé beaucoup de mémoire vive (la RAM). Les deux expressions sont, en apparence, contradictoires.
    – user19460
    Sep 22, 2020 at 19:15

You're right for "à mort". It is a slang intensifier. But for "ramer" (it is also slang), it is specific to computers, and it means that the computer or the network is slow.


"Ça rame", "ils rament", "on rame",… is not specific to computers as said in another answer but can be applied to various processes (TLFi, Expr. Ça rame. C'est difficile, ce n'est pas évident, cela se déroule mal. Ils se turent encore un moment et Mathieu pensa tristement: « Ça rame » (Sartre,Âge de raison, 1945, p. 120); it is right to say that it means in the popular tongue "it's going slow", "we are going slow", etc. This is not slang, although it is a rather vulgar way of saying "It's going slow".

(TLFi) À mort. Extrêmement, au plus haut degré. Il s'enivre à mort, deux fois par mois, avec exactitude (Duhamel,Journal Salav., 1927, p.62).Des hommes exploitaient à mort d'autres hommes! (Beauvoir,Mandarins, 1954, p.297).

I might add that this is rather colloquial language, which makes the combination "ça rame à mort" du langage peu élégant. "À mort" can be rendered by the less colloquial English "to death" (fig. utterly, at or beyond the point of endurance, to excess (as sick, tickled, tired to death)).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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