• 2002StudiosMedia

The 5 strangest idiomatic expressions for foreigners

The whole point of being a translator is not to do word for word. To find an equivalent formula and to concentrate on the meaning.

Idiomatic expressions are a perfect example of this. They bring a poetic dimension to everyday life and are very much influenced by the habits and customs of the people who speak them. So for a foreign person some expressions may seem really strange, funny or completely implausible if translated word for word.

In this article, we have grouped together 5 expressions in English, Spanish and French that when you don't know the meaning are incomprehensible.


● Pink Slip = notice of termination. For a foreigner it evokes the image of pink underwear. A funnier expression on the form than on the content...

●I have a frog in my throat = have a sore throat. The French have exactly the same expression with a cat. Surprisingly, we might have thought it was the Frenchman's turn to have frogs in his throat.

● It rains cats and dogs = it rains a lot. It's hard to understand the place of cats and dogs to talk about rain.

● Life is not all beer and skittles = life is not always nice and quiet. We understand better where happiness lies in the English.

● Put your money where your mouth is = it is used when someone regularly says they are going to do something and doesn't do it.


● Pédaler dans la semoule = pedal through the semolina = we use it when we lose our train of thought.

● Pisser dans un violon = to piss in a violin = wasting time unnecessarily. Initially the verb to blow instead of pee was used, but the expression has become distorted over time. An expression as disgusting as it is poetic.

● Quand les poules auront des dents = When the chickens have teeth = qualifies a situation that will never happen.

● Il ne faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties = we mustn't push grandma into the nettles = when someone goes too far or overreacts. At first glance, this expression sounds like a reprimand for a bad childhood joke, poor Grandma!

● Couper les cheveux en quatre = Cut the hair in four ways = when someone is too fussy. It's hard to imagine the situation.


● Ser la leche = be the milk = be amazing. Spanish must really love milk!

● Arrimar el ascua a su sardina = approach the burning coal to its sardine = provide arguments to the interlocutor that strengthen his or her position. A very colourful expression, which even with translation has difficulty finding its meaning in the ears of a foreigner.

● Matar el gusanillo = Kill the worm = to have a snack. Immediately less appetizing, 100% effective if you're at full diet!

● Quedar frito = Stay fried = fall asleep.

● Me pica la bagre = the catfish itches me = I'm very hungry. Decidedly, catfish is not the first thing that comes to mind if we are hungry.

Although a little strange, they are all beautiful expressions that bring richness and particularity to each language. They reflect the cultural diversity of our world, they're real treasures that need protecting.

By going through 2002 studios for the production of your media, we are committed to putting our linguistic expertise at your service in order to give you an initial opinion on the relevance of the content and to avoid any errors that could hinder the localization of your projects.

26 views0 comments
  • w-facebook
  • Twitter Clean
  • White LinkedIn Icon

Copyright 2002studiosmedia - All rights reserved - Created by Alexandre Levitte