Certain phrases or idioms are often used in cultures to describe a situation or feeling that is appropriate for the moment. Despite these phrases that may be used often within your culture, or language, there is a good chance that if you tried using it with someone who speaks a different language or from another culture, they would not understand what you’re saying. Here are a few idioms that are common in English and other languages around the world. Can you guess the meaning of each idiom?
Here are a few English idioms you may have heard:
Piece of cake – As we may know, this implies how easy a task was to complete.
Break a leg – This is an endearing term to wish someone luck before they head on stage to perform for an audience.
Costs an arm and a leg – Parents, you may relate to this one. Your child asks for something and it is so expensive, they are practically asking you to give up part of you!
Here are a few in French:
Avoir un poil dans la main (to have hair growing on the palm of their hand) – If someone says this to you, no you don’t literally have hair growing on your palms. It is used to describe how lazy someone is.
Se faire poser un lapin (given a rabbit) – For all those who are on the dating circuit (or even those who aren’t) there is a good chance this may have happened to you. If you are ‘given a rabbit,’ it suggests you have been stood up by your date, a friend, whomever!
Aller faire téter les puces (to go let the fleas feed on you) – This is a phrase (when translated literally) gives you a shiver down the spine. Why would you let the fleas feed on you!? If someone says this to you, chances are they just mean they are heading to bed for the night. Good luck having sweet dreams after you head that phrase!
Here are a few in Spanish:
Estar como una cabra (to be a goat) – If you’re told you’re acting like a goat while having a crazy evening out, you’re being told that you’re acting crazy or bizarre.
Descornar la flor (to de-horn a flower) – Let me set the scene…You’ve sent out the invitations to your parent’s wedding anniversary and specified that is the a surprise party, only to have your sister ruin the surprise the night before the big event. Yup! She’s de-horned the flower (let the cat out of the bag) and ruined the surprise.
Cuando las gallinas meen (when hens pee) – This phrase is the English equivalent of ‘When pigs fly.’
There are many more idioms in not only these three languages, but languages across the world. If you’re a language learning, knowing idioms can make your learning a little more fun!