Foreign Idioms: What Do They Mean?



Tomaten auf den Augen haben

Kourtney Allee, Reporter

Break a leg, Head over heels and Take the wind out of your sails: All common English idioms. An idiom is a phrase that is figurative, not meant to be taken literally and contains a hidden meaning. The English language has thousands of idioms that each have their own meaning. For example, “beating a dead horse.” It does not literally mean to beat a dead horse, it means to give energy to something that has already happened or ended. A lot of times we fail to recognize that other languages have certain phrases that are meaningful to them. In Germany, “Tomaten auf den Augen haben” is translated to “You have tomatoes on your eyes.” The expression actually means you are blind to what everyone else can see.
Idioms are important because they help describe situations in a creative way instead of being direct. They are short and help make a situation more funny and less monotone. Idioms “add color” while keeping writing simple. They can draw readers into a piece if used correctly, can be used as an artistic expression and are great to connect topics together. Idioms can make dull writing impressive. If you get familiar with English idioms when you are writing they will become included almost as a habit. Next time you are writing and the perfect situation for one to be used arrives, incorporate an idiom.

Here is a list of 12 humorous and odd foreign idioms:

Swedish- Det är ingen ko på isen
Translation- “There is no cow in the ice.”
What does it mean- There is no need to worry.

Thai- อาหูไปนา เอาตาไปไร่
Translation- “Take ears to the field, take eyes to the farm.”
What does this mean- Not paying any attention, you are not taking your ears and eyes along with you.

French- Se regarder en chiens de faïence
Translation- “To look at each other like earthenware dogs.”
What does this mean- Look at another coldly and with suspicion or distrust.

Russian- На воре и шапка горит
Translation- “The thief has a burning hat on.”
What does this mean- The person has an unsettled conscience that betrays itself.

Portuguese- Quem não tem cão caça com gato
Translation- “He who does not have a dog hunts with cats instead.”
What does this mean- Make the most with what you have. Do the things you need to do with the materials you have.

Polish- Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho?
Translation- “Did an elephant step on your ear?”
What does this mean- You do not have an ear for music. No musical talent.

Japanese- 猫をかぶる
Translation- “Wearing a cat on one’s head.”
What does this mean- Two-faced. Pretending to be nice, when in reality the person is “hiding their claws.”

Croatian- Da vidimo čija majka crnu vunu prede
Translation- “We see whose mother is spinning black wool.”
What does this mean- To be the black sheep of the family. The odd one out.

German- Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei
Translation- The sausage is the only thing that doesn’t end.
What does this mean- Everything comes to an end.

Icelandic- Ég tók hann í bakaríið
Translation- I take him to the bakery.
What does this mean- I told him off.

Spanish- Mucho ruido y pocas nueces
Translation- No walnuts and a lot of noise.
What does this mean- No action and all talk. Not doing anything you say.

Swedish- Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum
Translation- if there is room in the heart then there is room for the butt.
What does that mean- If we care about you then we will make room for you to join us.

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