Elle s’est mise dans tous ses états.
ell say meez dah too say zay-TAH. Click below to hear this.
She got all hot and bothered.
This is the sort of phrase that you want to be able to say, but you can’t figure out how to translate it. For starters, the verb to get has dozens of possible translations. It’s hard to get hot in French. You can be hot all you want, and that’s avoir chaud, literally to have hot. You see the difficulties here. To get hot, you will have to say something like elle a commencé à avoir chaud, she started to be/feel hot. And the thing is, our phrase doesn’t even have anything to do with heat.
And let’s not even get started on bothered. That’s another whole can of worms, and just thinking about it gets me all hot and bothered. There is just no way to translate the expression word for word.
So here’s how we deal with that in French: Elle s’est mise dans tous ses états. Literally, that’s She put herself into all her states. Which states are those? Pennsylvania, Illinois, Hawaii? Nope. Her states are all the ways in which she manifests her displeasure, her annoyance, her distress, her anger. She may cry, yell, bang on the wall, swear (plug up your ears, children), break things, blame others, turn white and shake. She may smile, with an evil glint in her eye. In a word, she is frazzled.
As for the verb se mettre, literally to put oneself, it implies that she has allowed herself to go all to pieces over this issue. It’s a subtle reminder that we have the ability to control our behavior. It’s up to us to exercise it.
Alternate audio file link: elle-sest-mise-dans-tous-ses-etats