Global Idioms That Don’t Make Sense – Translated in English (with Meanings)

Idioms are fascinating expressions that often encapsulate cultural wisdom and observations in a few colorful words.

Each language brings its own unique set of these phrases, providing insights into the values, humor, and philosophies of its people.

Below, explore 50 idioms from around the world, translated into English along with their meanings, that showcase the linguistic creativity and cultural diversity across the globe.

Idioms from Various Languages – Translated with Meanings

  1. “Throw flowers at someone” (Brazilian Portuguese) – To praise someone.
  2. “When the crayfish sings on the mountain” (Russian) – Never.
  3. “Not my circus, not my monkeys” (Polish) – Not my problem.
  4. “To buy the cat in the sack” (German) – To buy something without inspecting it first.
  5. “A cat’s jump” (Swedish) – A short distance.
  6. “To cook with grass” (Thai) – To work with inadequate tools or information.
  7. “There’s no cow on the ice” (Swedish) – There’s no need to worry.
  8. “Like an octopus in a garage” (Italian) – Out of place or poorly suited to a situation.
  9. “To have tomatoes on the eyes” (German) – To be oblivious to what’s going on around you.
  10. “To throw someone’s shoes over the fence” (Hungarian) – To force someone to make a decision or commit to a course of action.
  11. “To release the moths” (Spanish) – To splurge or spend a lot of money.
  12. “To ride as a hare” (Russian) – To travel without a ticket.
  13. “Hang noodles on your ears” (Russian) – To tell lies or exaggerate.
  14. “To send someone to that country” (Japanese) – To tell someone to go away or leave you alone.
  15. “A dog dressed in lime” (Mexican Spanish) – A situation or event that is very confusing.
  16. “Pepper in someone’s eye, but honey for me” (Arabic) – Schadenfreude or happiness at someone else’s pain.
  17. “To eat the head of someone” (Arabic) – To nag or berate someone extensively.
  18. “To buy a pig in a poke” (English) – To make a risky purchase without inspecting the item beforehand.
  19. “To have a wide face” (Chinese) – To have a lot of influence or authority.
  20. “To go where the king goes alone” (Italian) – To go to the restroom.
  21. “Like parsley at all sauces” (Italian) – Involved in everything or everywhere.
  22. “To have a stick in your ear” (Czech) – To ignore advice or not listen.
  23. “To cut pears with someone” (French) – To chatter pointlessly.
  24. “You have tomatoes on your eyes” (German) – You are not seeing what everyone else can see.
  25. “Riding the same donkey” (Turkish) – Working towards the same goal.
  26. “To make a cow out of a mosquito” (Ukrainian) – To make a big deal out of something small.
  27. “Like a chicken pecking at a line” (Thai) – Doing something without understanding it.
  28. “To shoot sparrows with cannons” (Dutch) – To overreact or use measures that are too extreme.
  29. “The carrots are cooked” (French) – The situation is settled and cannot be changed.
  30. “To be in the wolf’s mouth” (Italian) – To be in danger.
  31. “To turn a blind eye” (English) – To ignore something you know is wrong.
  32. “To swallow camels” (Hebrew) – To make concessions or ignore faults.
  33. “To walk like a cat around hot porridge” (Norwegian) – To beat around the bush.
  34. “The monkey comes out of the sleeve” (Dutch) – The truth is revealed.
  35. “To step into the same river twice” (Bulgarian) – To repeat a mistake.
  36. “To buy a hare in a poke” (Finnish) – To buy something unseen.
  37. “A hair in the hand is better than a crane in the sky” (Russian) – It’s better to have a lesser but certain advantage than the possibility of something greater.
  38. “To stretch your legs according to the coverlet” (Greek) – To live within one’s means.
  39. “To speak in silver, to be silent in gold” (Dutch) – It’s good to talk, but better to stay silent.
  40. “Fish rain” (Japanese) – An unexpected good fortune.
  41. “The shrimp that falls asleep is carried by the current” (Spanish) – If you’re not paying attention, you will be left behind.
  42. “Bull in a china shop” (English) – Someone who is clumsy in a delicate situation.
  43. “There’s no room even for an apple” (Italian) – It’s very crowded.
  44. “To add oil to the fire” (Greek) – To make a situation worse.
  45. “To step into the plate” (Swedish) – To take responsibility.
  46. “To dance in front of closed doors” (German) – To waste efforts on something that will yield no result.
  47. “To look at the sky from the bottom of a well” (Japanese) – To have a limited perspective.
  48. “To sit between two chairs” (Russian) – To be undecided.
  49. “To throw water into the sea” (Arabic) – To do something utterly pointless.
  50. Thinking about the immortality of the crab,” which comes from Spain and refers to daydreaming.
  51. Don’t push granny into the nettles.” This one’s from France and means “don’t exaggerate,” or more literally, “don’t push it.”
  52. Take the little horse out of the rain” from Portugal politely suggests that someone give up on an idea.

These idioms add a colorful dimension to language and often reflect cultural attitudes and values in unique ways.

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