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12 Greek Sayings That Make Zero Sense in English

Margaret is half-Greek and really likes her country's sayings.

Learning Greek?

In every country, people have their own sayings, proverbs, and phrases. When someone translates a text from their native language to a foreign one, they need to make sure that they know the latter's proverbs and idioms. This way, they'll be able to use a specific phrase that carries the same meaning. This article presents some of the funniest Greek sayings that make zero sense in English.

Learn to use Greek sayings like a local

Learn to use Greek sayings like a local

The Mountains Are Used to the Snows

Mountains are covered in snow every winter. It seems that Greeks were inspired by it and created the proverb "The mountains are used to the snows," which is used in order to say that someone is used to difficulties in their life. And yes, we use the plural form of the word snow.

I Know the Lesson as Water

When a Greek student says that they "know the lesson as water" it means that they have studied very much and that they learned something by heart. What does water have to do with studying? I have no idea!

Weather It Was

When a Greek person says "weather it was" to someone, it means that the latter finally did something they should have done a long time ago. The English equivalent could be the phrase "It's high time" or "It's about time."

I Will Take the Mountains

Mountains, again. "To take the mountains" means "to go to the mountains" and it is a metaphor for going away and never coming back. In Greece, when someone says it, they're usually fed up with their daily life and want to escape. On the other hand, it can be used as a metaphor when somebody disappears out of the blue. The English equivalent would be "to run for the hills."

The Good Lad Knows of Another Path

"Where there is a will, there is a way." That's exactly what this Greek saying about the good lad means. A person who is determined enough will find another way—Greeks say path—in order to become successful

There Are Elsewhere Orange Trees That Produce Oranges

This Greek saying is mostly used for affairs of the heart and more specifically when a person gets rejected or broken up with. It can be translated to "no one is irreplaceable" and we use it in order to console a person and make them realize that they'll find someone else to fall in love with.

You Took Too Much Air

I know what you think, but this one has absolutely nothing to do with breathing. Greeks say that someone took too much air in order to show disapproval of a person who has become arrogant, too confident, and thinks way too much of themselves.

"It's all Greek to me!"

"It's all Greek to me!"

Sit on Your Eggs

Upon reading this phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is birds' habit of sitting on their eggs in order to hatch them. In Greece, if we advise someone to "sit on their eggs" we advise them to stay where they are, wait patiently and keep out of other people's business.

One Cuckoo Doesn't Bring Spring

This one is the equivalent of the English phrase "one swallow doesn't make a summer." Just because one good thing has happened doesn't mean that the overall situation has improved. On the other hand, a small sign can't guarantee you that something is going to happen in the future.

We Did Black Eyes to See You

This Greek saying has nothing to do with being punched in the face. It actually indicates that a person hasn't seen someone for a very long time. It's the same with the English phrase "long time no see."

I Don't Eat Dumbgrass

This phrase isn't one you'd want to hear from someone—the word "dumb" probably gives away its meaning. A person who doesn't eat "dumbgrass" is someone who isn't naive and can't be deceived. If you're having a conversation with someone and they tell you this, they might think you're lying to them.

To Be Left in a Cold Bath

In Greece, when we say that a person was left in a cold bath, it means that they were left helpless, in a difficult situation. In English, we would say that a person left someone high and dry.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Margaret Pan


Margaret Pan (author) from Athens on April 10, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Mitara, I'm glad you found them funny!

Mitara N from South Africa on April 09, 2020:

hahahaha, so comical, I had good laughs

So Shakespearean, I love these phrases, will definitely come in handy from time to time.

Brilliant article Margaret

Margaret Pan (author) from Athens on April 07, 2020:

I'm glad you enjoyed the article, Lorna. Thank you for your wonderful comment!

Margaret Pan (author) from Athens on April 06, 2020:

Thank you so much

Margaret Pan (author) from Athens on April 06, 2020:

Thanks as always for visiting Manatita!

Lorna Lamon on April 06, 2020:

I love 'We did black eyes to see you' - hilarious. I have some Greek friends that I will try these out on. I must admit that we have some weird sayings in Ireland that wouldn't make sense in any language, they don't even make sense to me. Thank you for making me smile Margaret. I enjoyed this article.

Bill on April 06, 2020:

Wow that's so funny!!!

Marina on April 06, 2020:

You described these sayings perfect

manatita44 from london on April 06, 2020:

Number two, could easily be 'as easy as drinking water.' Meaning that it is a very natural thing to do: 'To see your soul, is very easy for me. It is as natural or easy as drinking water.' Seers say this sometimes.

I like your Greek sayings, even though they are strangely unfamiliar. In their evolutionary journey, they have changed somewhat and with different meanings. Happens in an ever-transcending world.