Idioims in other languages other than English?

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
I used an idiom today that I have not used in a while "dead as a doornail". I wondered what its derivation could be so I did a bit of research. Turns out the phrase may go way back to the 14the century!

We use idioms all the time. Most of them we know their meaning but have no idea of their derivation.

I got to thinking of idiom use in other languages. We have a few people here who's native language is not English. I would be interested in unusual idioms used in other languages that do not appear in English. Likewise I would like to know if there are any idioms that are used in both languages.

And just so the English only speakers can participate, we can make this just a general discussion on idioms in general and their deviation,
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
11,088
Family jokes:
Wie geht ist ihnen? (How are you?) And, my grandfatehr trained me to reply, "Aus zwei Beime, wie ein halp hund." (On two legs like half a dog.)
Was ist los? (What's going on?) Similarly, "Alas was nicht fest angebebunden ist. (All that is not tied up well is.)

My spelling may be a little off.
 
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Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
Down here we say... "I've been busier than a hooker's underwear ... always running up and down!" ...

A little vulgar, but very illustrative :D

Too illustrative and obvious. I am looking for those odd idioms that most people use but really don't know their derivation.


Like "piece of cake" or "burning the midnight oil" or "getting down to brass tacks".
 

boatsman

Joined Jan 17, 2008
186
Like putting your shoulder to the wheel and your best foot forward - probably useful if your car is stuck in a snow drift.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
23,390
Many such sayings in the English language originate from the days of sail.

"Three sheets to the wind"
"Swinging the lead".
"Splice the Main brace"
"Cut of ones Jib"
"I'm pooped"
"Giving some leeway"
"A square meal"
"Deep six it"
"Posh"

Just to name a few, there are more I cannot recall right now.
Max.
 

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
Many such sayings in the English language originate from the days of sail.

"Three sheets to the wind"
"Swinging the lead".
"Splice the Main brace"
"Cut of ones Jib"
"I'm pooped"
"Giving some leeway"
"A square meal"
"Deep six it"
"Posh"

Just to name a few, there are more I cannot recall right now.
Max.


Loose cannon
Born with a silver spoon in his mouth
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
By and large
Cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey,
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
A recent down-the-Google-rabbit-hole example:

"Blowing smoke up your ass".

Used to be a real thing in the mid-1700s. I'd still like to know the story around the first person to try it.
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
800
"I'll be done in two shakes of a lambs tail"

"Don't get your panties in a twist"

"That was a hair brained idea"

"Together we make a fine pair"

"Thats like having two brain cells and neither one are talking to each other"

kv
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
Many English sayings and idioms trace back to Shakespeare.

Lie low - To hide so you will not be caught by someone.
Night owl - A person who stays up and is active late into the night.
A charmed life - A life that seems to have been protected by a charm, magic or spell.
Mum's the word - Keep this a secret; don't tell anybody.
Send him packing - To tell someone to go away, usually because you are annoyed with them.

“All our yesterdays”— (Macbeth)

“As good luck would have it” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“As merry as the day is long” — (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)

“Bated breath” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Be-all and the end-all” — (Macbeth)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” — (Hamlet)

“Brave new world” — (The Tempest)

“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Brevity is the soul of wit” — (Hamlet)

“Refuse to budge an inch” — (Measure for Measure / The Taming of the Shrew)

“Cold comfort” — (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)

“Conscience does make cowards of us all” — (Hamlet)

“Crack of doom” — (Macbeth)

“Dead as a doornail” — (Henry VI Part II)

“A dish fit for the gods” — (Julius Caesar)

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” — (Julius Caesar)

“Devil incarnate” — (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)

“Faint hearted” — (Henry VI Part I)

“Fancy-free” — (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Forever and a day” — (As You Like It)

“For goodness’ sake” — (Henry VIII)

“Foregone conclusion” — (Othello)

“Full circle” — (King Lear)

“The game is afoot” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Give the devil his due” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)

“Jealousy is the green-eyed monster” — (Othello)

“Heart of gold” — (Henry V)

“Hoist with his own petard” — (Hamlet)

“Ill wind which blows no man to good” — (Henry IV Part II)

“In my heart of hearts” — (Hamlet)

“In my mind’s eye” — (Hamlet)

“Kill with kindness” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — (Macbeth)

“Laughing stock” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“Live long day” — (Julius Caesar)

“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Milk of human kindness” — (Macbeth)

“More sinned against than sinning” — (King Lear)

“One fell swoop” — (Macbeth)

“Play fast and loose” — (King John)

“Set my teeth on edge” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Wear my heart upon my sleeve” — (Othello)

“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,380
I've only heard this simply as "mad as a hatter." The expression was already well-established decades before it inspired the character in the Carroll's book.
I believe its origin lies in that hat-makers used mercury in their manufacturing process (its exact use escapes me), and so mental illness became associated with the profession
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,966
I've only heard this simply as "mad as a hatter." The expression was already well-established decades before it inspired the character in the Carroll's book.
Yeah, you're correct. I just wrote what came to my head at the moment.

The expression comes from mercury poisoning because the hat makers in France and England were exposed to mercury used in the treatment of felt in the process of making hats. Hence the expression, "mad as a hatter".

Edit: cmartinez beats me to it.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
23,390
The "three square meals a day" originated with sailors who were issued some rations 3 times daily, but they were not given any eating utensils or plates etc.
So they would get the ships carpenter to make them a flat piece of wood sawn off of square lumber, hence a square meal!.
Max.
 
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