- Greek, like every language, contains numerous idioms, some of which may seem amusing or wise to native speakers, but often perplex non-native speakers.
- The Greek idiom "go and cut your neck" may sound alarming, but its actual meaning is to take immediate action and handle a situation promptly.
- Below you will read seven well-known Greek idioms and their translations, helping you understand their meanings and use in conversation.
- The idioms provide glimpses into Greek culture, with expressions like "I ate the world to find you" reflecting sentiments of searching and "Your eyes, fourteen" illustrating cautionary advice from Greek mothers.
Just like in every language, in Greek, we have thousands of idioms. Some of them are a bit naughty, some of them are wise, but all of them sound absolutely absurd to a non-native speaker.
Therefore, if you hear a Greek telling you to “go and cut your neck,” don't be alarmed as this Greek idiom simply translates to “I don't care, do everything necessary about a situation, but do it now.”
Here, we have put together a list of the seven most popular Greek idioms and their meaning, making sure that from now on, they don't sound Greek to you!
The first one is not much of an idiom, but it is the typical answer we give when someone says “thank you”. If you have traveled to Greece, you may have heard it from a spontaneous local.
1. 'I ate the world to find you'
Translation: 'I've been looking for you everywhere!'
2. 'Your eyes, fourteen'
Translation: 'You should be extremely cautious, acting as if you've got 14 pairs of eyes.' It's a typical quote loved by Greek mothers warning their offsprings about the dangers of the outside world.
3. 'You drown in a spoonful of water'
Translation: 'You make even the simplest of tasks seem so difficult.'
4. 'Many words are poor'
Translation: 'Talk is cheap.' - not a huge leap in translation compared to its English counterpart.
5. 'The feet got up to hit the head'
Translation: “You are not in the place to question me”
6. 'It's not John, it's Johnny'
Translation: 'It's the same thing.' Identical to the English phrase 'po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe'
7. 'Pierce my nose'
Translation: 'I'm so sure that you are wrong and I'm right that if I'm wrong, I give you permission to pierce my nose.' This idiom although still widely used, it's comically outdated, as it refers to a time when nose piercings were not only rare but unimaginable.
Are there any other Greek idioms that you may have heard? Which one is your favorite?