Language

Curious Idioms From Around The World

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

Many idioms in English are so familiar to native speakers that we don't stop to think about how strange they are. "Cut the mustard." "Off your rocker." "Straight from the horse's mouth." It's the same in other languages. For example, in German, to say you're not seeing what everyone else can see, you'd say "Tomaten auf den Augen haben," or literally "you have tomatoes on your eyes." In French, the phrase "se regarder en chiens de faïence" literally translates as "to look at each other like earthenware dogs"—essentially, to look at each other with distrust. The Croatian version of "what goes around comes around" is "doće maca na vratanca," or "the pussy cat will come to the tiny door," and the Polish version of "were you born yesterday?" is "z choinki się urwałaś?" or "did you fall from a Christmas tree?" Tamil, a language spoken in some of India and Sri Lanka, has several water-themed idioms, including "to pour water over someone's head," or break off a relationship, and "show water to someone," or be someone's nemesis. Hear more interesting language quirks in the videos below.

5 Foreign Phrases That Make No Sense In English

"To slide in on a shrimp sandwich"...?

French Phrases Hidden In English Words

The amount of French in the English language may surprise you.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Curfew comes from couvre feu, which means cover fire. 00:24

  2. "Dent de lion" is where we get "dandelion" from. 00:39

  3. Mortgage stands for "death pledge". 01:32

Features We Don't Have In The English Language

Absolute direction would be pretty handy.

Why You Make Better Decisions In Another Language

Speaking another language may make you think more rationally.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Speaking two languages means the brain has to work harder, which also means it works more when problem-solving. 01:12

  2. One researcher hypothesized that's why people tend to revert to their native language when angry. 01:43

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.

Advertisement