12 hilarious lost-in-translation phrases from around the world

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Everyone needs a laugh on a Monday, right?

Well start by Youtube-ing how to pronounce idioms, because that’s what we’re giggling about this morning.

If you’re more confused than you were getting out of bed after a long weekend, idioms are words that are used to express a sentiment other than their literal meaning. Does it literally rain cats and dogs?

So you may have heard of common English idioms like “kill two birds with one stone” but have you heard of “you have tomatoes in your eyes”? We didn’t think so.

And thats because it’s a German idiom – one that’s easily lost in translation.

Luckily for you (and your language skills) Expedia has put together a handful of funny, lost-in-translation idioms from all over the world.

But because these phrases tend to be super visual (and pictures are fun to look at) they’ve made pictures out of words, so you can see for yourself what the idioms visualise.

Click here to see the original article.


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This German idiom is used when a person is unaware of a situation or isn’t paying attention – when they can’t see what everyone else can. Literally translated, it means “you have tomatoes on your eyes,” which would definitely make it hard to see if you ask us.


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This vivid Argentinian idiom perfectly sums up the paranoia of looking for hidden meanings in absolutely everything. But taken literally, it means to “look for the fifth leg of the cat.” Which they don’t have. Obviously.


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This finite, direct idiom is used to mark the point at which a situation can’t be changed and a person has had enough. Literally, it means “the carrots are cooked.” What’s done is done and that’s that – because you can’t really un-cook carrots.


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There’s nothing more frustrating than taking the blame for something you didn’t do. This Portuguese idiom is used when someone is wrongly blamed. Literally, it means “pay the duck.”


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Have you ever tried playing piano to a cow? They probably aren’t going to start applauding – even if you were Mozart. This Chinese idiom perfectly sums up that sinking feeling when you just know that someone doesn’t appreciate what you’ve done. Stupid cow.


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Some people just don’t get it, do they? This harsh Polish idiom is used to inform someone that you see right through them, or that they are not well-informed. Like they’ve fallen from a Christmas tree or something.


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Translated into English it makes literally no sense, but in French Canadas this delightful idiom means “to flirt with someone”.


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No matter how hard we try, some things are simply out of reach. This Japanese idiom beautifully translates to “a flower on a high peak,” rather than the jar of cookies in the high cupboard we automatically visualised.


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You may have heard of foot in mouth disease, but in Finland, it’s frog in mouth disease. How many times have you said the wrong thing? This Finnish idiom would accuse you of letting “a frog out of your mouth,” if taken literally. More icky than a foot, if you ask us.


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What is meant to be will be – and every language has its own version of this idiom. The Mexican version translates to “If you’re born to be a tamale, the leaves will fall from the sky.”


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In Italy, if you ever hear yourself described as a dog in church, it might be time to leave. Because that’s what this idiom for an unwanted guest translates to.

Sri Lanka

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This Tamil idiom means to cut off a relationship. And what better way to do it than to pour water over someones head?

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

expedia idioms lost in translation

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