11 Curious Sayings and Expressions from Around The World


I came across a lovely book by Ella Frances Sanders highlighting curious expressions found around the world. It reminded me of few sayings from my local language and inspired this list of 11 local sayings and their origins.

Recently on my weekly trip the bookstore, I came across this lovely illustrated book by Ella Frances SandersThe Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World. It is full of humorous and poignant idioms, proverbs, and adages from around the world that reflects the diversity of languages and cultures.

It made me go back to my childhood. There were certain sayings that just stuck with you, right? Something your grandma or your mom used to say repeatedly, which made no sense to you back then but was hilarious as hell. Now you realize those things are a part of your vocabulary now!

Rediscovering Classics: 6 Timeless Novels and Their Beautifully Remastered Covers

Read More

Photo Credit: animalia-life.club

I remember a few sayings in my mother tongue, Hindi, that were part of occasional bantering with friends. It was common to hear:

Saying (Hindi)एक् और एक् ग्यारह् हॊते है
Literal TranslationOne and one make eleven
MeaningUnity is strength

This was often used when we were teaming up for a game of basketball or cricket.

Photo Credit: Picjumbo

Another one that we used especially where a favor was traded for a favor:

Saying (Hindi)इस् हाथ् दे उस् हाथ् ले
Literal TranslationGive from one hand, take from another
MeaningTo make an even deal

So with these phrases racing in my mind and Ella’s incredible book in hand, I curated these curious sayings from around the world!

Saying (Romanian)Îl scoți din pepeni
Literal TranslationTo pull someone out of their watermelons
MeaningTo drive someone crazy, a bit nuts.

Saying (Swedish)Att glida in på en räkmacka
Literal TranslationTo slide in on a shrimp sandwich
MeaningUsed for somebody who didn’t have to work to get where they are.

Saying (Latvian)Pūst pīlītes.
Literal translationTo blow little ducks.
MeaningTo talk nonsense or to lie.

Saying (Polish)Z choinki się urwałaś?
Literal translationDid you fall from a Christmas tree?
MeaningYou don’t know what you’re talking about, and everyone knows it.

Saying (French)Sauter du coq à l’âne.
Literal translationTo jump from the cock to the donkey.
MeaningTo keep changing topics without logic in a conversation.

Saying (Russian) Галопом по Европам
Literal translation Galloping across Europe.
MeaningTo do something hastily, haphazardly.

Saying (Serbian)Nosom para oblake
Literal translationHe’s ripping clouds with his nose
MeaningUsed for somebody who is conceited and vain. Similar to nose sticking up in the air.

Saying (Portuguese)Quem não tem cão caça com gato
Literal translationHe who doesn’t have a dog hunts with a cat.
MeaningYou make the most of what you’ve got. Use whatever resources you have to get the job done.

Saying (Portuguese)Empurrar com a barriga
Literal translationTo push something with your belly.
MeaningTo keep postponing an important chore.

Over to you, folks! Share with us sayings or phrases in your local language and its meaning. We can’t wait to hear them!

Want a little more of everything cool?

Get the weekly digest when you sign up for our "Everything cool" mailing list.

Share your thoughts.