Interesting idioms from around the world

No matter what language you’re learning, at some point you’ll probably come across idioms. These phrases, on the surface, seem to mean very little and yet, to native speakers, they roll easily off the tongue without a moment’s thought. In a recent post, we covered Chinese chengyu, idiomatic expressions that each have their own fascinating story. And English is full of strange idioms – ‘to have a chip on your shoulder’, for instance, or ‘to pull someone’s leg’. Very confusing if you’re not very familiar with the language.

Idioms are a tricky part of the language learning process, but well worth it if you can get a few under your belt… 😉 Being able to drop a few colloquial expressions into your speech in the right context will not only boost your confidence, but it’ll also impress whoever you’re talking to!

So here are just a few of our favourite idioms from around the world:

Aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen (German)

Literally: To make a mosquito out of an elephant

Meaning: To make a fuss out of nothing

The turtle is shrouded (Cheyenne)Énêhpoése ma’eno (Cheyenne)

Literally: The turtle is shrouded

Meaning: It’s foggy

猿も木から落ちる (Saru mo ki kara ochiru) (Japanese)

Literally: Even monkeys fall from trees

Meaning: Even experts get it wrong

Ar gefn ei geffyl gwyn (Welsh)

Literally: On the back of his white horse

Meaning: Full of mischief

Hak mir nisht kin chaynik (Yiddish)

Literally: Don’t chop my teakettle

Meaning: Stop annoying me

Les chiens ne font pas des chats (French)Dogs don't breed cats (French)

Literally: Dogs don’t breed cats

Meaning: Like father, like son (Tibetan)

Literally: To put up a beer tent

Meaning: To get married

Aquí hay gato encerrado (Spanish)

Literally: there’s a trapped cat here

Meaning: there’s something odd going on

бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга (Burkhan orshoo butin chinee sakhal urga) (Mongolian)

Literally: God bless you and may your moustache grow like brushwood

Meaning: Bless you (when someone sneezes)

Avere gli occhi foderati di prociutto (Italian)

Literally: To have one’s eyes lined with ham

Meaning: To be unable to see something that’s plainly obvious

Have you discovered any fun idioms in the language you’re learning? Let us know in the comments!


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