What are some (non-English) idioms, and what do they mean (both literally and in context)? Odd ones, your favorite ones - any and all are welcome. :)

For example, in English I might call someone a “good egg,” meaning they’re a nice person. Or, if it’s raining heavily, I might say “it’s raining cats and dogs.”

  • @mumblerfish
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    3 months ago

    In Swedish there is

    “Now the boiled pork is fried”, meaning sometging has gone too far

    " be on the cinnamon", to be drunk

    “Put the legs on your back”, to run

    “You are out biking”, you are missing the point

    “Pay[back] for old cheese”, to get revenge

    " bear-favour", is a favour that gives bad results

    “Now you’ll see other buns”, things will get rough

    " there are no children being made here", nothing is happening/its boring/lets go

    “Satan and his aunt”, all kinds of people/everyone

    “Good day, axe-handle”, something like saying “yeah, you dumbfuck” after getting a nonsense repley from someone

    “In only the brass”, to be naked

    “Show where the cupboard will stand”, to firmly make a decision

    “You cupboard”, miss the point, being stupid

    " shit in the blue cupboard", to make a mistake

    Edit: forgot a good one:

    “Get your thumb out of your ass”, to stop doing nothing and start doing something

    • ALQOP
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      223 months ago

      I thought “be on the cinnamon” was going to be my favorite, but the list just kept getting better. I think you ended on the best.

    • @[email protected]
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      163 months ago

      björntjänst bear-favor: From a French fable (L’Ours et l’Amateur des jardins by Jean de La Fontaine) in which a tame bear wants to do his master a favor by hitting the fly who sat down on the master’s forehead, but hits the fly so hard that the master too is killed.

      Interesting

      • @bus_factor
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        123 months ago

        Some Norwegian politicians have completely ruined this expression, and now use it to mean “a really big favor”.

        It’s almost as annoying as when Americans say they “could care less” when they mean the opposite.

        • @[email protected]
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          13 months ago

          Not as annoying as when they say Caucasian and it means European-looking people, not people from the Caucasus.

    • Lvxferre
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      3 months ago

      " there are no children being made here", nothing is happening/its boring/lets go

      My sides went into orbit. How else would someone entertain themself, when this expression was coined? TV is a recent invention, after all…

    • @[email protected]
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      3 months ago

      " bear-favour", is a favour that gives bad results

      Almost the same in German, “Bärendienst” means a bear’s service, means a bad service or one which did much more damage than help, usually unintentionally

    • Alto
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      53 months ago

      Ikea is starting to make more sense with all this cupboard talk

    • @[email protected]
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      23 months ago

      If you are ever visiting Öland, and stop by Solliden, our King’s summer retreat, you can go into a café and they have the toilets in a room you enter through a blue cupboard.

      So yes, I have shat in the blue cupboard at the Kings summer retreat

    • @cikano
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      23 months ago

      Forgot: “Fastnat med skägget i brevlådan” Literal meaning being: “Stuck with your beard in the mailbox” which is basically saying you’ve fucked up and are getting caught in the act

    • Drusas
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      23 months ago

      Interestingly, English has the same exact expression (“get your thumb out of your ass”).

    • BruceTwarzen
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      13 months ago

      There are no children being made here made me laugh so hard when i tried to imagine to translate it and use it randomly

  • @[email protected]
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    3 months ago

    Fun question! There’s an abundance in Vietnamese. Usually used by parents and/or old folk (I can hear it now…)

    Mèo khen mèo dài đuôi — Literal translation “cat praises cat’s long tail.” A way of expressing narcissism.

    Uống nước nhớ nguồn — Literal translation is “drink water, remember roots.” So you’d pause, reflect, and remember where you came from.

    Gieo gió gặt bão— Literal translation is “sow winds, weather storms.” A way of saying “you reap what you sow.”

    Có công mài sắt có ngày nên kim — Literal translation “Perseverance grinds iron some day into needles.” Used like “practice makes perfect.”

    Trời có mắt — Literal translation “Heaven has eyes.” Usually used when someone’s wronged, but don’t worry - heaven is watching.

    Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì sáng — Literal translation “near the ink it blackens, near the lamp it lights.” You’re influenced by those you’re around.

    Nuôi ong tay áo — Literal translation “raise bees in shirtsleeve.” As in “to nurture a snake in one’s bosom,” kindness will be met by betrayal.

    • ALQOP
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      13 months ago

      I really like these. They all seem very poetic, at least in English. I think my favorite is “near the ink it blackens, near the lamp it lights.”

  • @[email protected]
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    Catalan:

    Enfilar-se per les parets — To be climbing the walls — To be very angry and / or nervous.

    Ficar-se de peus a la galleda — To get one’s feet in the bucket — To say or do something inconvenient and / or embarrassing.

    N’hi ha per llogar-hi cadires — [Roughly translated] You could rent chairs for this — Refers to something very noteworthy or interesting.

    (Anar a) canviar l’aigua de les olives — To (go) change the olives’ water — To (leave for a quick) piss.

    Descobrir la sopa d’all — To discover garlic soup — To believe you’ve discovered or come up with something that’s commonly known (except, apparently, to you).

    (Estar) tocat del bolet — (To be, or have been) touched/hit on the mushroom — (To be) insane.

    Fer figa — To do or make fig (literally, the fruit, or figuratively, the vulva) — To become weaker, unable to perform one’s intended function.

    Fer el préssec — To do or make the peach — To put yourself in a ridiculous situation.

    Fer uns ulls com unes taronges — To open one’s eyes like oranges — To look very surprised or interested.

    Fer pinya — To make (like a) pinecone — To work together for a common cause.

    Partir peres — To split up pears — To break up a relationship (sentimental, professional, or otherwise).

    Remenar les cireres — To mix up the cherries — To be the person who makes the decisions, to be in control (in a partnership, organisation…). Also, Tallar el bacallà — To cut up the cod. Also, Tenir la paella pel mànec — To hold the pan by the handle.

    Somiar truites — To dream of omelettes — To believe things that will hardly be possible to be possible. And, by extension, Somiatruites — Omelette dreamer — Someone who regularly does that; an extremely unreasonable optimist.

    Suar la cansalada — To sweat (the) bacon — To do very hard tiring work or exercise.

    Aixecar la camisa — To lift (someone’s) shirt — To scam, misdirect, or lie (to someone).

    Això són figues d’un altre paner — These are figs from a different container — This is a completely different matter (than what we were talking about).

    Bon vent i barca nova! — Good wind and a new boat! — Farewell to someone or something you’d rather never see again.

    (Això és) bufar i fer ampolles — (This is) (like) blowing and making bottles — Refers to something that’s very easy to do or achieve. Can be used literally or ironically.

    Caure-hi de quatre potes / peus — To fall in with all four legs / feet — To fall for a scam or lie.

    (Ser) cornut i pagar el beure — (To be a) cuckold (literally, to have horns) and pay for the drinks — To voluntarily sacrifice for others who take advantage of you.

    (Donar) gat per llebre — (To give) a cat pretending it’s a hare — To lie, scam, or misdirect. To substitute a lower quality product for what you agreed to provide.

    El més calent és a l’aigüera — The hottest stuff is in the sink — Work hasn’t even started yet on whatever endeavour we’re talking about.

    En un tres i no res — In a three and nought — In a very short time.

    La mare dels ous — The mother of the eggs — The main cause or reason (of/for something).

    Lligar els gossos amb llonganisses — To tie up the dogs with sausages — To be wealthy.

    Fer mans i mànigues — To do/make hands and sleeves — To put as much effort as possible into something.

    Fer un riu — To make a river — To piss.

    Veure el llautó — To notice the brass — To notice the concealed truth behind appearances. (Literally, it refers to noticing something is made of a poorer quality metal than it’s claimed to be.)

    Tenir mà esquerra — To have (sic) left hand — To be good at diplomacy.

    Un orgue de gats — An organ (musical instrument) made out of cats — A very noisy and chaotic room or place.

    And there’s plenty more, but I’ve already spent more time than I could afford typing these.

    Oh, but also, not exactly an idiom, maybe, but something I’ve always thought says a lot about Catalan worldview: the Catalan word for pigsty is cort. Which is exactly the same word (and with the same meaning) as the Catalan word for court. As in royal court.

    Maybe that’s where Orwell got his idea for Napoleon & co to be pigs…?

    • ALQOP
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      33 months ago

      Thank you for sharing! These are really interesting. I love that pigsty and royal court are the same word; very appropriate.

  • @kava
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    373 months ago

    “o que é um peido pra quem já está cagado?”

    What’s a fart to someone who already shit himself?

    If you’re already 30 minutes late, don’t speed recklessly to save 3 minutes.

    • @khannie
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      133 months ago

      Haha! The equivalent in Ireland (not sure if it’s used in other English speaking countries) is “may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb”

      • @Jarix
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        33 months ago

        Makes me think of " Why cry over spilled milk?" Which never made any sense to me lol

        • @owsei
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          3 months ago

          tnh I think the spilled milk saying is more about things that you can’t control / already happened.

          and the Brazilian saying is more like “it’s ok to let a little more milk get spilled”, however I can’t think of a nice way of saying that.

          edit: thinking more about that, maybe the milk saying can be used for this, but not necessarily

          • @Jarix
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            23 months ago

            Yeah it didnt feel directly relatable but maybe adjacent to it

  • @[email protected]
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    3 months ago

    In most languages, “get well soon” is expressed as good wishes. In Russian, they use the imperative form, so it is like an order or a command. It’s буд здоров(а), which is literally “be healthy” as a command. They also use it as “bless you” after sneezing. (For those whoe can’t read Cyrillic, in Latin it’s approximately said like “bud zdarov(a)”. The -a suffix is the female version, without it is male.)

    In French, the expression “du coup” (it means something like “therefore” or “so” or “thus”) can be used in place of like 10 other expressions.

    • Ainsi
    • Donc
    • Alors
    • Tout à coup
    • Soudainement
    • En conclusion
    • Si je comprends bien
    • De ce fait
    • Ce qui fait que
    • En conséquence
    • Consequémment

    Is all being replaced by “du coup”.

    In German, capitalisation matters. In contrast with many other languages, nouns must be capitalised, or it changes the meaning. For example:

    • Helft den Armen vögeln
    • Helft den armen Vögeln

    Notice how only the capitalisation changed. The first sentence means “help the poor to fuck” while the second sentence means “help those poor birds”.

    • ALQOP
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      63 months ago

      I didn’t know that about German and capitalization. That’s fascinating! How would that play out verbally? Would you just have to figure it out from context?

    • @[email protected]
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      43 months ago

      I took German classes in high school and have been struggling ever since not to automatically capitalize nouns when I write in English. It’s been like 25 years.

    • @[email protected]
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      In French, the expression “du coup” (it means something like “therefore” or “so” or “thus”) can be used in place of like 10 other expressions.

      • Ainsi
      • Donc
      • Alors
      • Tout à coup
      • Soudainement
      • En conclusion
      • Si je comprends bien
      • De ce fait
      • Ce qui fait que
      • En conséquence
      • Consequémment

      But “consequently” and “so” and “in conclusion” can all be replaced by “therefore” in English as well as in French … if one accepts a lack of nuance and depth.

      There are subtle differences in all of them, and for instance switching “suddenly” for “if I understand well” would often confuse the listener.

  • @Holyhandgrenade
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    3 months ago

    Icelandic is full of fun idioms:
    “He’s totally outside driving” = he’s very incorrect about something, possibly crazy
    “It’s hard to grab his horns” = He’s very headstrong and stubborn
    “A wave rarely comes alone” = If something bad happens, usually a lot of bad things happen at once
    “He hasn’t peed into the salty sea” = he’s young an inexperienced
    “He has unclean flour in the corner of the bag” = he’s untrustworthy
    “I totally come from the mountains” = I’m out of the loop, unaware of recent developments

    • @[email protected]
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      103 months ago

      “He has unclean flour in the corner of the bag” = he’s untrustworthy

      Danish has this also, just phrased like “He’s not got clean flour in the bag”

      Maybe it’s from common heritage

      • @Holyhandgrenade
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        33 months ago

        Yeah probably, a surprising amount of Icelandic idioms have Danish/Norwegian counterparts

        • @Archer
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          13 months ago

          They do not fuck around when it comes to unclean flour

    • @[email protected]
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      93 months ago

      A wave rarely comes alone

      An equivalent idiom in English for this one might be “When it rains, it pours”

      • cabillaud
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        3 months ago

        ‘Les merdes volent en escadrille’ = ‘shits fly in a squadron’ (famous expression coined by former President Jacques Chirac)

      • wjrii
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        13 months ago

        There’s also the very nerdy Shakespeare version of the same sentiment: “when troubles come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”

    • @ABCDE
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      33 months ago

      “I totally come from the mountains” = I’m out of the loop, unaware of recent developments

      Similar to ‘Have you been living under a rock?’.