Book with pages forming a heart

10 Foreign Language Idioms You’ll Love

It’s exciting to learn a new language, especially the sayings that only native speakers know. In English, we have idioms like “bring home the bacon” and “let’s hit the road,” but do you know why being able to “cause a monkey to fall” or why “bones in the right order” are good things?

Here are ten foreign language idioms you’ll love. Try sprinkling these into your next conversations and see what happens.


The English language is full of idioms, but another fun aspect is its weird and sometimes wacky grammar rules! The EasyBib grammar guides feature definitions and proper usage of parts of speech, like plural nouns, subordinating conjunctions, and determiners. It’s a perfect place for new and veteran writers alike!


 

“Makalaglag matsing.” – Tagalog

Literal English translation:

Can cause a monkey to fall.

Meaning:

This phrase is used to describe the feeling you get when you see an extremely attractive person. Presumably this person is so good looking that a monkey would get distracted and accidentally fall.

Example:

“Did you see that handsome guy? He’d cause a monkey to fall.”

“姜还是老的辣 (Jiāng hái shì lǎo de là).” – Chinese

Literal English translation:

Old ginger is spicier than new ginger.

Meaning:

Experience counts.

Example:

“Ted, let me show you how it’s done. Old ginger is spicier than new ginger.”

“Você está enchendo meu saco.” – Portuguese

Literal English translation:

You are filling my bag.

Meaning:

You are getting on my nerves.

Example:

“John, if you don’t stop this annoying behavior now, you’re going to fill my bag.”

“Piješ mi krev.” – Czech

Literal English translation:

You’re drinking my blood.

Meaning:

This is another way to tell someone that he or she is getting on your nerves. May or may not be appropriate to use if face-to-face with a vampire.

Example:

“You’re drinking my blood, Callie. We need to meet this deadline.”

“Hang aan ń tak.” – Afrikaans

Literal English translation:

Hang onto a branch.

Meaning:

Hold on for a second.

Example:

“Wait, I’m almost done. Hang onto a branch.”

“Ayos ang buto-buto.” – Tagalog

Literal English translation:

Bones in the right order.

Meaning:

Use this phrase when you want to communicate that everything is in order.

Example:

“Do we have everything? Are the bones in the right order?”

“In bocca al lupo.” – Italian

Literal English translation:

In the mouth of the wolf.

Meaning:

This is a common way of wishing someone good luck. A typical response to this phrase is “crepi,” which means, “You die” (“you” refers to the wolf).

Example:

“It’s going to a wonderful performance, Beth. In the mouth of the wolf!”

“Bez práce nejsou koláče.” – Czech

Literal English translation:

Without work, there aren’t pastries.

Meaning:

The best English equivalent to this phrase is, “No pain, no gain.”

Example:

“If you want to make more money, you have to put in the effort. WIthout work, there aren’t pastries.”

“明日のことを言うと天井のネズミが笑う (Ashita no koto o iu to tenjō no nezumi ga warau).” Japanese

Literal English translation:

If you speak of tomorrow, the rats in the ceiling will laugh.

Meaning:

The future is unpredictable.

Example:

“Don’t worry about making a five-year plan. If you speak of tomorrow, the rats in the ceiling will laugh.”

“Когда рак на горе свистнет (Kogda rak na gore svistnet).” – Russian

Literal English translation:

When a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain.

Meaning:

This phrase is similar to “When pigs fly.” If you want to communicate that something is never going to happen, this is the idiom for you.

Example:

“Oh please, when a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain.”


Let EasyBib.com help put the finishing touches on your next writing assignment. Run your paper through the grammar and plagiarism tool, and pick from thousands of citation styles, like MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style, to cite your references automatically!

Tagged:
Sheena Santamaria

About The Author