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Weird and wonderful idioms from around the world!

Idioms – they are an undeniably fun and colourful part of language. Every language has them and they are mostly all as mad as each other! An idiom can tell you a lot about the sense of humour of a country and can really bring out some fascinating cultural perspectives. In this article, we select 10 of the very best from around the world, all for the sake of a little linguistic fun!

To hang noodles on someone’s ears

Russian - Вешать лапшу на уши / veshat’ lapshu na ushi

Would you like noodles on your ears? Probably not, and this instinct should give you a clue to the meaning of this Russian idiom. Yes, it’s not a positive thing and it means to fool or trick someone.

You can’t pluck feathers from a bald chicken

Dutch – van een kale kip kan je geen veren plukken

Never has a truer word been uttered, you certainly can’t pluck a bald chicken. But what does it mean? It means you can’t extract money from someone who has none, or you can’t get a laugh out of someone with no sense of humour, or you can’t get a simple answer from a politician, or you can’t expect a teenager to stick to every rule…you get the picture! It basically means that something is impossible or very unlikely.

Stop ironing my head!

Armenian - Գլուխս մի՛ արդուկիր / glukhs mi՛ ardukeer

I imagine this particular gem has been shouted in the back of many a car across Armenia. Long journeys and siblings generally result in some irritability, so you might say to your annoying little brother “stop ironing my head” and you’d be telling him to STOP ANNOYING ME!! We’ve all been there…

To have other cats to whip

French – J’ai d’autres chats à foutter

The French have other cats to whip and the English have other fish to fry, but they both mean the same thing – I’ve got better/more important things to do and think about. Now this idiom begs the question – why do cats appear in so many idioms? E.g. it’s raining cats and dogs, let the cat out of the bag, curiosity killed the cat, cat got your tongue etc. We haven’t got the answer, perhaps people just love cats. The popularity of cat memes certainly backs this theory up!

To walk around in hot porridge

Czech - Chodit kolem horké kaše

Imagine doing the above, do the following words spring to mind- efficient, quick, effective? I’m guessing the answer is no. This should lead you to the meaning of this Czech idiom…it’s the equivalent of ‘beating around the bush’, procrastinating, not getting on with something etc.

God bless you and may your moustache grow like bush wood!

Mongolian - бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга! / burkhan orshoo butyn chinee sakhal urga!

I must admit, this is my personal favourite! What do you think would elicit such a response as the one above - a generous gift, a flattering compliment, a kind gesture? No, the answer is a humble sneeze. 'Bless you' clearly doesn’t quite cut it in Mongolia!

So, there you have it – just a small selection of some of the more weird and wonderful idioms from all over the world. We hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we have!


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