View Full Version : Great Furrin Idioms translated into English

01-23-2011, 03:34 PM
I was thinking the other day that the German idiom "Wie Gott in Frankreich" is just great, and I could use it in an English novel without anyone knowing I didn't invent it! :D

And there are other great idioms in all languages. What about sharing?
Here are some German ones, their literal translations and and their meanings:

Wie Gott in Frankreich = Like God in France = living a fabulous life, usually including fine wine and dining, the Arts and so on.

So Klein mit Hut = so small with a hat on (accompanied with a finger gesture) = to be so humiliated you feel like nothing

(Ich verstand) Nur noch Bahnhof = (I understood) only "Station" = I didn't understand a thing (this is lovely - imagine a foreign person asking for directions and the German gives a long speech of gibberish, in which the foreigner only understands the word "Bahnhof", station)

Which other idioms do you like?

01-25-2011, 10:19 PM
Hi there!

Flemish is also a language with a lot of idioms. Let me think of a few:

'Spruiten in je oren?' = Do you have sprouts in your ears? which means you don't pay attention to what's being said
'Goed voorzien van oren en poten' = Well endowed with ears and paws which means a woman has a nice curved figure...
'Die heeft een hoekje af' = He lacks a hook which means he or she isn't completely sane


02-01-2011, 06:07 PM
I love these.

02-01-2011, 06:12 PM
Those are great, and hilarious as well!

02-01-2011, 06:14 PM
Kinyilt a zsebemben a bicska = the penknife opened up in my pocket, I got really angry

This one is exactly the same in German: Mir ging das Messer in die Tasche auf.

02-03-2011, 09:57 PM
Cuatro gatos = Four cats. (Meaning, very few people. E.G: Only four cats went to David's birthday party.)

Más perdido que el hijo de Límber = More lost than Lindbergh's child. (Meaning, something that has no chance to ever being found. E.G: That money is more lost than Lindbergh's child!)

Sampablera = Saintpaulery (Meaning, a riot or a brawl. Named after some riots formed against the government in St. Paul Square in Caracas in the late XIX Century.)

Vete a llorar al valle = Go to the valley to cry (sarcastic way to say one doesn't mind about someone's problem.)

Colón, ¡Descubriste América! = Colombus, you just discovered America! (Meaning, someone has stated something awfully obvious.)

Buscar la quinta pata al gato = Seeking the cat's fifth paw. (Meaning, a snipe hunt. Overthinking something)

02-03-2011, 10:17 PM
Nice ones, Max!

02-06-2011, 11:47 PM
"Att gå över ån efter vatten" - "to cross the stream to fetch water" - meaning to do something more complicated than it needs to be

"Många bäckar små blir en stor å" - "many streams make a big river" - meaning many little things contribute to a much bigger effect

"Bollen är rund" - "the ball is round" - meaning the outcome is uncertain, anything can happen

"Den dagen den sorgen" - "That day, that sorrow" - meaning don't worry about something now beforehand

02-06-2011, 11:52 PM
Enjoying this, guys. Carry on. :)

02-07-2011, 04:02 AM
In Hungary: Hiányzik egy kereke = He is missing a wheel

The portuguese version is Missing a screw. ;)

Colón, ¡Descubriste América! = Colombus, you just discovered America! (Meaning, someone has stated something awfully obvious.)

The portuguese version is You've discovered gunpowder.

Fugir a sete pés = to run with seven feet = getting the hell outta there

*wiggling index finger* Morde aqui a ver se eu deixo = Bite here, see if I let you = I'm not as dumb as you're making me seem like

Ter a pulga atrás da orelha = To have a flea behind the ear = Something is bothering me, I'm not liking this, this is suspicious

Ter macacos no sótão = To have monkeys in the attic = To see something in a situation that isn't there, to over read into something

02-07-2011, 04:42 AM
I remembered some more. :D

Ir com os porcos = To go with the pigs = To lose, to die (in a game), to get caught - it applies in any kind of situation with a bad outcome

Fazer de gato sapato = To make a shoe out of a cat = to abuse someone (non-sexually, but in every other way)

Tratar abaixo de cão = To treat (someone) lower than a dog = similar meaning as above

Vender a banha da cobra = To sell the snake's lard = To sell something that is worthless as something very important/expensive (sell here can mean in exchange for money or to convince, persuade)

Comprar gato por lebre = To buy a cat for a hare = To buy something worthless/of less quality thinking you're getting the good stuff

02-12-2011, 09:09 AM
Sara, you made me remember one.

Ve a ver si ya puso la marrana = Go and check out if the pig laid eggs. (Go to hell. Especially common in Mexico)

02-12-2011, 11:03 AM
Remembered a few more. :)

"Köpa grisen i säcken" - buying the pig in the sack - means buying something without having a look at it first.

"Dra dit pepparn växer" - go to where the pepper grows - a mild form of 'go to hell'.

"Måla fan på väggen" - paint the devil on the wall - meaning to describe something in more negative colour than is actually warranted.

"Det vete fåglarna" - The birds know - meaning you have no clue about something. Often the answer to a questions like 'How did that happen?'.

"Dra åt svångremmen" - tighten the belt - meaning you adapt when you become poorer.

"En skänk från ovan" - a gift from above - when you get something you really needed, but that you didn't expect.

02-12-2011, 11:53 AM
These are the same in German:

"Dra dit pepparn växer" - go to where the pepper grows - a mild form of 'go to hell'=

Gehe, wohin der Pfeffer waechst

"Måla fan på väggen" - paint the devil on the wall - meaning to describe something in more negative colour than is actually warranted.=

den Teufel an die Wand malen

02-12-2011, 02:25 PM
"Dra åt svångremmen" - tighten the belt - meaning you adapt when you become poorer.

We have this one too, Apertar o cinto.

These are so much fun. :)

05-10-2011, 09:04 PM
Don't know whether there's another thread on this somewhere already, but anyway...

I love discovering words and phrases in French that create a stronger or more interesting image in my head than the English equivalent (if it exists), and I guess the same is true of other languages too.

So if you feel like sharing, stick 'em here. I'll start with a few from French.

Barbe à papa - literally "Dad's beard", or perhaps "old man's beard" and means candyfloss.

Faux plat (not to be confused with faux pas) - literally "false flat" and means the kind of gentle slope that isn't steep enough to look like a slope but makes you wonder if you've put on a few pounds when you cycle up it.

Il a les dents qui rayent le parquet - literally "he has teeth that scratch the wooden floor" (because they are so long) and means he is highly ambitious.

And my personal favourite: il y a du monde au balcon - literally "there's lots of people on the balcony" and means that someone is displaying a lot of cleavage (and therefore the balconies are crowded with admirers).

05-27-2011, 07:04 PM
Близо́к локото́к, да не уку́сишь. - Your elbow is close, but you can't bite it. - Means something seems to be easy but isn't.
Ветер в голове - Wind in the head - Like in English the word airhead, same meaning.

Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Pferd (modern mockery of Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm ) - The apple doesn't fall far from the horse (horse turd is called horse apple in German).

And I've got one that exists only in franconian dialect:
Deä dengd ned vo elfa bis lädd! - He doesn't think from eleven up to the bell punch. Means someone is being stupid, the bell (churchbell) rings exactly at eleven, and if one can't think from the time it's eleven up to the stroke of clock, the person can't think very far, which means not very good at all.