IN A MARINER'S WORDS


 

"tirer à boulets rouges"


 

 “The team lost another match against the neighbouring town. The commentators blasted the coach.”

We blast someone when we want to criticize and attack in strong terms over and over again.

The expression “tirer à boulets rouges” is very common in French. It comes from an old practice of naval combat that consisted of loading a cannon with cannonballs that were heated until they were red hot.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, cannons fired cast iron cannonballs. To boost their destructive effect, one day someone had the bright idea of launching cannonballs heated to the point they are red. This method proved to be especially effective for sinking ships in the enemy fleet. In addition to the known damage caused by the cannonball, once it was heated red hot it set fire to the ship, which was built entirely of wood. The effect was compounded when the fire spread to the powder kegs that the ship often concealed in its hold.  What a blast in perspective!