Globibo Blog

Idioms that cannot be translated

Idioms are word combinations that do not make much sense when considered literally, but actually have a lot of symbolic significance. They are notoriously difficult to translate for this very reason. Idioms in fact, were devised to plug the gap in a language’s vocabulary to communicate certain concepts. The English language itself has more than twenty-five thousand idioms. Let us look at some other common idioms from around the world, that evade translation- 


German – Tomaten auf den Augen haben 
Literally – You have tomatoes on your eyes
Actual meaning – You’re not being able to see what others are seeing.

Swedish – Det ar ingen ko pa isen
Literally – There’s no cow on the ice.
Actual meaning – There’s nothing to worry about.

Latvian – Ej bekot
Literally – Go pick mushrooms
Actual meaning – Go away/let me be

French – les carottes sont cuites!
Literally – The carrots are cooked!
Actual meaning – The situation cannot be changed

Portuguese – Empurrar com a barriga
Literally – To push something with your belly
Actual meaning – To keep postponing an important chore

Polish – Bulka z Maslem
Literally – It’s a roll with butter
Actual meaning – It’s very easy

Translating idioms from one language to another is no easy task. The above listed idioms are like a pin in a really abundant haystack.


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