en panne

La machine à café est en panne. Elle ne fonctionne pas, mais elle n’est pas cassée à mon avis. 

  • L’ascenseur est en panne. Il est bloqué à l’étage. 
  • Je suis en panne d’idées. Peux-tu m’aider?
  • The coffee machine is out-of-order. It doesn’t work but isn’t broken in my opinion (as far as I can tell).
  • The elevator is out-of-order / is down / is broken. It’s stuck / blocked upstairs (somewhere).
  • I am running short on ideas / I am running out of ideas. Can you help me?

En panne is a short idiomatic gem to show that the mechanism (or motor) behind some kind of process is no longer working. A small appliance can be en panne. We expect it to be fixed at some point. The same can be said of something larger, like an elevator or a car or a ski-lift. When your brain – which generates ideas – is running low on inspiration needs help, you are en panne d’idées / d’inspiration. These refer to temporary situations, of course, particularly when it comes down to ideas and inspiration.

More on la panne in this post.