Idioms Are The Same In Every Language

For the second language learner, idioms are not only the sum of the words. It is an expression that gives a cultural, historical, and hysterical sense. They are a humorous and fascinating way of describing your thoughts. Moreover, they don’t just add zest to the language, but also reflect the environment and add information about the history, food, and climate.

The idioms, as we mentioned above, reflect the major historical events in a particular culture. The idiom itself is the tip of the cultural iceberg. When you start to understand the meaning behind the idioms, then you will surely break the ice with a native speaker.

There are also idioms which do not contain the same wording but convey the same message and thus, are well comprehensible by a different nation. Therefore, an idiom is a way of preserving tradition around the world and life in the linguistic pattern. However, some idioms are understood in every corner of the world, whether it happens due to the universal structure of mind or language in general.

Check out some captivating idioms derived from cultures across the world:

1. Dar a alguien calabazas // Spanish

English Equivalent: To shoot someone down

If someone doesn't want to go outside with you, and you try to convince them to go out with you, but they refuse. This action is dar calabazas, meaning to give someone a pumpkin. The connection between pumpkin and rejection seems to come from an Ancient Greek belief, which means to turn someone down.

During the Middle Ages, in some rural areas, suitors were invited to eat at the girl's house and offered either a cigar or pumpkin. If the suitor was offered a cigar, it meant they were ready for engagement, but if they received a pumpkin, it meant they had to leave.

2. Tomaten auf den Augen haben // German

English Equivalent: You have tomatoes on your eyes

When you are exhausted or inattentive. This phrase applies when many people can see something clearly, but you are unable to see it.

If you can't see people around the corner, while others can see, the Germans call it Tomaten auf den Augen haben. The term originates from the idea of being tired and sleepy, which means your eyes are like red tomatoes. It's also connected to a person who cannot cross the street because he only sees the red.

3. Piece of cake // British English

American equivalent: Something easily done

This phrase means easy to do, without much effort. It originated in 1936 and is used in Britain. The German analog of this phrase is Das schaffe ich mit links, which stands for, 'I could do that with my left hand only.' Thus it is emphasized as most people are right-handed and the task must be easy if they are able to do or create something with their left hand.

4. язык проглотил? // Russian

English Equivalent: Cat got your tongue

That is similar to the French idiom avaler votre langue, meaning, 'have you swallowed your tongue?' It is an aggressive response to when someone is expected to say something but couldn't say it due to any number of reasons.

This idiom is widely used to point out somebody's silence. It can be explained as, 'why are you so quiet?' or 'why can't you say any word in your defence?' The pivotal meaning of the idiom is 'unusual or unexplainable silence.'

5. 侃大山 // Chinese

English Equivalent: Chew the fat

This idiom stands for talking in a friendly or leisurely way. 'I haven't seen you for ages. Let's have coffee and chew the fat.' The approximate analog in Spanish is darle a la sinhueso, which means to give way to the boneless (implying the tongue). The idea is that chewing the fat in America is more common. It may have meant chewing on salt pork when supplies were low. Today both colloquial and cliché mean to talk politely.

If you want to chew the fat with your native client and show some piece of your assignment to them, you need to talk fluently and intelligibly for that.

6. Les carottes sont cuites! // French

English Equivalent: The carrots are cooked!

Les carottes sont cuites is a little fun expression that translates approximately to 'the chips are down', which means the situation can't be changed, like ‘it’s no use crying over spilled milk'.

This expression was coined in the 20th century but originated long before that. This association of carrot with cooked expanded to mean the ending of anything – a project or a relationship – and it is still used nowadays. During World War Two, this phrase was used as a code by Allied Force on Radio London to announce the imminence of the day and time had run out, and the operation was due to commence.


Every language in the world has a phrase that, though consisting of well-known words, conveys a different meaning. It originates from the distant past, which explains why the meaning is different from what the inexperienced person might think it to be.

The reason is that words and their combinations can change their meaning with time. It partly happens because language reflects the unique source of mind that absorbs everything around people.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has provided you with some useful information. There are so many idioms from different languages which are being used around the world and have their own interpretation in local languages.

Work experience
Sign me up for the Undutchables newsletter and keep me up to date!

Always up to date to find your dream job!

We only need a few personal details, thanks!

Work experience