Untranslatable Phrases

Learn interesting idioms, sayings, proverbs and phrases from around the world!

Episode 2: Cultural Mishaps and Misunderstandings


C’est le petit Jésus en culotte de velours

Translation: It’s like Baby Jesus in velvet underpants

Meaning: This wine is delicious – while this can sometimes be used to describe a particularly delicious meal, it is usually reserved for the national drink.

Episode 3: Small Talk and Conversation Taboos


Hör auf um den heißen Brei herumzureden.

Translation:Stop talking around the hot soup.”

Meaning:Stop beating around the bush.” Germans tend to not appreciate small talk.

Episode 4: Public Transportation


“métro, boulot, dodo”

Translation: Métro refers to a subway commute, boulot is an informal word for work, and dodo is baby talk for sleeping.

The English equivalents – the rat race, the same old routine, work work work – don’t quite capture the same sense of constant movement, and a more literal English translation, “commute, work, sleep,” isn’t as poetic as the French.

old man slapping kidding screwing around on the u bahn

Episode 5: Drunchies Around The World


Avere sale in zucca

Translation– You’ve got salt on your pumpkin

Meaning:You’re smart as a whip, have your head screwed on.

“Zucca” can also colloquially mean ‘head’. To an Italian, you’re clever if you know to sprinkle salt on pumpkin and other winter squashes to balance its natural sweetness.

Episode 6: World Cup Part Deux


Ganbatte! (with obligatory exclamation mark)

Meaning:Loosely translated as anything from “do your best!” and “stick with it!” to “be strong!” and “hang in there!”, it is something of a national mantra.



Meaning:This one is oddly specific, referring to the sport of football (soccer to some). Hawaiifotball arises when both teams log the ball back and forth haphazardly, never really gain control, and can’t sustain an attack or any sort of coordinated play for more than 15 seconds. Typically, this happens when both teams have stopped caring and/or have a lapse in concentration. If you think about it, though, it can be used to describe most sports: in basketball, when the game is locked into teams scoring in succession, and every single attempt is getting through. In (American) football, when teams are racking up three-and-outs like there was no tomorrow. Every team sport has situations like this.

(Spanish) Cortarse la coleta

Literal:To Cut off the Pony Tail

Meaning:It means “to retire from bullfighting (or another profession)” and “to give up a habit or custom”.

(French) Casser les pieds à quelqu’un

Literal: To break someone’s feet

Meaning: This violent idiom means that someone is annoying someone else. • English counterpart: to annoy, bother someone

Episode 7: Americans Abroad: Perceptions, Perspectives, and Stereotypes


Z choinki się urwałaś?

Literal: “Did you fall from a Christmas tree?”

Meaning: “You are not well informed, and it shows.”


Iets met de Franse slag doen

Literal: Doing something with the French whiplash.

Meaning: This apparently comes from (horse) riding terminology. It means doing something hastily.


En boca cerrada no entran moscas.

Literal: In the closed mouth, flies do not enter.

Meaning: Sometimes you’re just better off keeping your mouth shut. If you don’t, be prepared to face the consequences.


por las hojas se conoce al tamal que es de manteca

Literal: From the leaves, it’s known that the Tamal is made from lard

Meaning: What it actually means: People know who you are by the way you dress. It’s essentially a more every day form of saying ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ or, ‘appearances are important’.

Episode 8: International Friends- High School Edition


Det föll mellan stolarna

Literal: “It fell between chairs.”

Meaning:It’s an excuse you use when two people were supposed to [hang] out or do something, but never did. It has evolved into the slightly ironic phrase, ‘It fell between the chair,’ which you use when you want to say,‘Yeah, I know I was supposed to do it but I forgot.


Koi No Yokan

No Direct Translation

The sense one can have upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love. Differs from “love at first sight” as it does not imply that the feeling of love exists, only the knowledge that a future love is inevitable.

The Japanese phrase is increasingly used by young people today, particularly those brought

(Yaghan-Spoken on Tierra del Fuego(Southernmost tip) of South America)


Listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the “most succinct word”

Regarded over isolate language One Native Speaker remains aged 90

Meaning: It allegedly refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.”

  • It is that look across the table when two people are sharing an unspoken but private moment. When each knows the other understands and is in agreement with what is being expressed. An expressive and meaningful silence.”

Episode 9: Slang Past and Present

Καμάκι (kamaki)

Literal: Harpoon
Meaning: men trying to pick up women. It’s commonly used when men are flirtatious/charming with the intention of “reeling” a woman in. Originally it was used in reference to men who had the intentions to hook-up with tourists, but now it’s a more general term.

Dam khafeef/ Ta’qeel

Literal: light/ heavy blood
Meaning:Describing one’s personality or behavior through their blood constitution. Not ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ blood types, nor density! If your hemoglobin is light, you are lighthearted with an appealing humor. On the other end of the scale, if your jokes are annoying, you’re ‘heavy-blooded’ or unbearable!
(Spanish(Specifically Mexican)
Literal: Put a lot of cream on their tacos
Meaning: Someone who thinks very highly of themselves

Episode 10: The Study Abroad Starter Pack

Long tooth saying in Finnish and French and English


pitkin hampain

Literal:with long teeth –

Meaning:(to do something) unwillingly


avoir les dents longues

Literal:to have long teeth

Meaning:to be ambitious

avoir les dents qui rayent le parquet

Literal:to have teeth that scratch the floor

Meaning:to be extremely ambitious

(Afrikaans) (Mainly spoken in South Africa and Namibia)

Literal:Heuning om die mond smeer

Meaning:Rub honey around somebody’s mouth Meaning: To butter somebody up

As die hemel val is ons almal dood

Literal:If heaven falls, we’re all dead

Meaning:Seeing trouble in everything / complain less and don’t always think about the bad things in life


khāk bar sar-am or khāk bar sar-et

Literal:dirt on my head’ or ‘dirt on your head

Meaning:which is another way of saying ‘I should die’, and it’s hard to translate the phrase into English without using some not-so-good English words. But it’s used when you’ve made a mistake or realized something terribly wrong has happened. You can also flip it around and say khāk bar sar-

et, meaning dirt on your head, but remember this is very insulting, and basically means something along the lines of ‘You should die!’

Episode 11: Italian Excursion Edition

חמשוש – Hamshoosh
Literal: A combination of ‘Yom Hamishi’ (Thursday), ‘Yom Shishi’ (Friday), and ‘Yom Shabbat’ (Saturday)

Meaning: Usually referring to having the weekend off (from work, from the army)

“When are you free this week?”
 “Hamshoosh, gever!”

מטאטא חדש מטאטא טוב – Metate Chadash Metate Tov

Literal: A new broom is a good broom

Meaning: Used to describe a new employee who is good at his or her job simply because they are new (Just had an example of this at work when I told my boss to ask a specific guy just because he’s new)


Techen hlyab (te-chen hlyab)
Literal: Liquid bread
Meaning: Slang for beer due to the starches of cereal grains used in the brewing process.

Episode 12: What Kind Of Traveler Are You?


Literal:dragon fodder’.
Meaning: It refers to a gift, either physical or in the form of a favour, which men give to their wives or girlfriends to say sorry for staying out late. For example, if a man has stayed out all night he might buy her chocolates to stop her from getting angry at him. So, in other words, he is feeding the dragon! However, I think this can refer to any situation where you buy a gift/do something for someone to stop them from being angry at you.

Gladna mechka horo ne igrae (glad-na mech-ka ho-ro nay i-gra-e)

Literal: A hungry bear doesn’t dance
Meaning: This phrase is a look back to the times when men used to roam the country with chained up dancing bears. When the bear is hungry, it makes sense that it wouldn’t dance. The true meaning of the idiom, however, is that you can’t expect anything from a person if you don’t give them something in return, be it food, money or a favor.

Armut piş ağzıma düş
Literal: May the pear be cooked on the tree and fall into my mouth

Meaning: This describes a person who doesn’t like to work, to whom everything comes ready and done — or falls literally in their lap.

Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou
Literal:The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife
Meaning: Used when it’s raining and the sun shines at the same time

(Southern USA)
The devil is beating his wife [With a walking stick]
veri az ördög a feleségét
Meaning:because he is angry God created a beautiful day. The rain is said to be his wife’s tears.

Episode 13: English Pronunciation- Tomato Tomato, Data Data

(Portuguese) (Specifically Brazil)
Encher linguiça
Literal: to stuff a sausage
Meaning: to talk on and on without really saying anything

Pão pão queijo queijo
Literal:Bread bread, cheese cheese
Meaning: It is what it is, to call a spade a spade

Namak mirch lagana.
Literal:To apply salt and red pepper. Meaning

Meaning:To exaggerate.

Aate daal ka bhav pata chalna.
Literal:To know the value of wheat and lentils.

Meaning: To step into the real world and struggle.


haam sup 鹹濕   
Literal: Salty and wet Colloquial meaning


sik ling mung ⻝⾷食檸檬
Literal: To eat lemons Colloquial meaning

Meaning:To be rejected

Episode 14: On The Road Again In New Orleans


Roedd hi’n berwi fel cawl pys
Literal: She was boiling like pea soup
Meaning: She is talking incessantly

Tynnu nyth cacwn ar fy mhen
Literal: To pull a wasp’s nest on my head
Meaning: to do or say something that upsets a lot of people at the same time.

Wy’n teimlo fel tynnu blewyn o’i drwyn
Literal: I feel like pulling a hair from his nose
Meaning: I feel like doing something nasty to him
Literal: Made a whip out of shit
Meaning: Do so much with so little.

la mama naibii
Literal: At the Devil’s mother
Meaning: Not far away

Gaecheon-eh-seo yong nanda
Literal: A dragon rises from a small stream
Meaning: 개천: Stream, 에서: at (in) 용: Dragon, 났다: Was born
This expression refers to someone from a small town with an ordinary background, who has had great success. In Korea, 용 has a positive meaning. When it’s used to refer to a person, it implies that he or she is extremely successful.

Episode 15: Disadvantages To Learning a Language?

(Egyptian Arabic)
Fokak men nafsak

Literal: Unscrew yourself from yourself
Meaning: the phrase actually means to let go of things and to be carefree.
“Dih Harakat nos kom” – “These are short-sleeved movements”
The phrase is actually used to refer to actions that are dishonest or shady.

Kapit sa patalim
Literal: Hold on to the sharp edge of a blade.

Meaning:What it actually means: If someone is in a situation so desperate that they’ll do everything to survive (like holding on to the sharp edge of knife), this is the phrase used to describe them.
Example: “My business has gone under, my wife left me for another man, and my bank account is in the red. What can I do? Kapit na lang ako sa patalim, pare.”

“Bukal sa loob”
Literal: Natural to the insides

Meaning:What it actually means: If you do something completely out of your own will, and not because you were forced to, then this is the best way to describe you.
Example: “I don’t mind if you don’t go along with me for this trip. As long as your decision is bukal sa loob mo, I will respect it.”

Episode 16: Chad’s Packing Checklist

Strčit někoho do kapsy
Literal: they’ve “shoved you into their pocket”

Meaning: someone“beat” you


Alimental um burro a pão-de-ló.

Literal: “To feed the donkey sponge cake.”
Meaning: To give very good treatment to someone who doesn’t need (or deserve) it.

Nem kolbászból van a kerítés.
Literal:“The fence is not made from sausage.”

Meaning: It’s not as good as you think.

Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert
Literal: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail

Meaning: Those who have the least, brag the most

Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal
Literal: To go fetch the baboon from behind the hill

Meaning: To talk about problems that haven’t happened yet

Episode 17: Tips and Tricks To Learning A New Language

ca baba si mitraliera
Literal: Like an old lady with a machine-gun

Meaning: a person or object being massively unsuitable for the job at hand


si-a dat cu tesla-n coaie
Literal: Hit your own testicles with a claw hammer

Meaning: shooting yourself in the foot

Romanian and Moldovan are the same language defined as Moldovan in the Moldovan constitution

(Cuban Spanish)

Chupar el rabo a la jutia
Literal: To suck on the tail of a rodent (from the Caribbean).

Meaning: to get drunk, love to drink.

Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho?
Literal: Did an elephant stomp on your ear?

Meaning: Having no ear for music

Episode 18: The Challenges Of Arriving In A New City


Paa fong

Literal: steak house

Meaning: derived from the Cantonese for pork chops, which means unattractive women. A steak house is a place full of such females – say, a girls’ school.


ენის მიტანა [enis mitana]

Literal: to bring a tongue to someone.

Meaning: It is used in a situation where the owner of the tongue is a snitch.


Kaip šuniui penkta koja Literal

Literal: Like a fifth leg for a dog

Meaning: Lithuanians use this idiom to describe pointless actions or purchases. Also, whenever you end up in a situation where your presence is awkward or unnecessary, you can say that you feel like the fifth leg of a dog.

Bala nematė

Literal: The swamp didn’t see

Meaning: In Lithuania, when someone is having a huge dilemma trying to make a decision, they tend to say “bala nematė” and just go all-in. Of course, it sounds ridiculous in English, but all the best (and also most stupid) decisions ever made in Lithuania start with “bala nematė.”

Episode 19: Making A Home Away From Home


Mernem djanid – Մեռնեմ ջանիդ
Literal: Let me die on your body!
Meaning: You say this phrase to people you love very very much. Most of the time, this phrase is addressed to the people who are younger than you. For example, Armenian parents often tell this phrase to their kids.


Yeres arats – Երես առած
Someone who bought their face.
Meaning: If you tell someone is”yeres arats,” it is the same as if you say in English ‘you are naughty.’
This one was Truly untranslatable to me. How are those two things related?

(Moroccan Arabic)
Ila kan Sahbak 3sal La Tla3koush Kolo
Literal: If you have a friend like honey, don’t eat him.
Meaning: It means that we should never abuse someone’s help and good heart. If you have a friend that is always there for you, don’t use him when you don’t need his help.

(Moroccan Arabic)

El fahem yafham
Literal:The smart understood.
Meaning: Used when we leave something for people to understand without giving them an explanation. We hope the wise ones will get what we meant.
Arabic is a goldmine because it’s used in so many different countries with even more cultures

Episode 20: Do’s And Don’ts Of Tourism

Φιλοξενία (filoksenia)
Literal: the first part of this word comes from the word φιλώ, or love, while the second part comes from ξένος, foreigner. It literally means “love of/for the foreigner,
Meaning: is most often roughly translated as “hospitality.” But the significance of hospitality in Greece is beyond translation. The importance of hospitality toward a guest in one’s home is a pervasive part of Greek culture. One of the ways to ensure you’re a good host is to have a hefty stash of κεράσματα…
Chad is feeling some of this during his first couple of days in the Czech Republic

그림의 떡 (geu-reem-eui dduk)
Literal: Rice cake in a picture
Meaning: Something you desire, but can’t have or afford Rice cakes, 떡 (dduk), are staples of Korean cuisine. They can be eaten as a snack but often make their most notable appearance in more formal or celebratory affairs. Culturally, they’re associated with fortune and giving.

khar too kharé
Literal: There’s a donkey inside of this donkey
Meaning: While khar too kharé literally means there’s a donkey inside a donkey, it’s a phrase that signifies chaos or disorganization. So, if you show up at a meeting, and everyone’s late, no one knows the agenda, and everything is in disarray, you can simply say khar too kharé! And everyone will know what you mean.

pedar sag

Literal: Your father is a dog
Meaning: This is a not so nice term you can call someone as an insult. If you say someone is a pedar sag, you’re literally telling them their father is a dog, and you are giving them a message that you think they are a jerk.

Episode 21: On The Road Again In Berlin ft. Jeff


Episode 22: Visiting Prague And So Much More ft. Jeff


Buaya darat
Literal: Land Crocodile
Meaning: the well-known Indonesian phrase for playboy or womanizer. The origin of this phrase is unknown because on the contrary, crocodiles are believed to be faithful and loyal animals in Indonesia.(Seems obvious to me)

Babi buta
Literal: Blind Pig
Meaning: it’s a phrase used to describe a person lashing out in rage with no control. There’s a bar/restaurant near me called the “Blind Pig”

(Tagalog) (Second Language of Philippines)
Mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulog-tulugan.
Literal: It is hard to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.
Meaning: While it is easy to tell people something they do not know, it is much harder if they are willfully choosing not to see what is before them.

(French) (Specifically Benin) between Togo and Nigeria

Avoir La Bouche Sucrée
Literal: To have a sweet mouth.
Meaning: To be extremely talkative and chatty.

Episode 23: Death Across Cultures

(Cuban Spanish)

no le cabe un alpiste en el culo
Literal: cannot fit another bird seed into their butt Meaning: To be proud

cont y môr
pysgodyn wibli wobli

Literal: Cunt of the Sea or
wibbly wobbly fish

Meaning: Jellyfish


fatha rhech mewn pot jam

Literal: like a fart in a jam jar.

Meaning: Useless

see sor hai kwai fang สีซอให้ควายฟัง
Literal: To play the violin for the buffalo to listen to.
Meaning: Talking to a brick wall. (The person you are speaking to does not listen.)

Episode 24: TEFL & TESL 101

(Flemmish) (Belgium)

Stuur uw Kat

Literal: Send your cat

Meaning: Don’t show up

Futja kot
Literal: Launch with no result
Meaning: Doing/Saying something stupid without fore-thought

Shkel e shko
Literal: Step and go
Meaning: Messy; something done haphazardly

Du kan få en prut og pille i’
Literal: You can have a fart to play with
Meaning: is used as an answer when someone asks you to do something and your reply is no.

Episode 25: Settling Into A New City

Dá Deus nozes a quem não tem dentes
Literal: God gives nuts to those who don’t have teeth

Meaning: What a waste! Used when an opportunity isn’t seized

(Spanish) (Chile)
Apretar cachete
Literal: Tighten his buttcheeks

Meaning: Leave in a rush


Chuparse los bigotes

Literal: To lick his mustache

Meaning: To love a dish

(Farsi) (Iran)
Goheh ziyadi nakhor
Literal: Don’t eat a lot of shit!
Meaning: Someone can say this to you when you need a good reminder to not overstep your boundaries or get in over your head with life and gossip

Roo-hetou kaam-kon
Literal: subtract your face/soul
Meaning: If you were talking to someone and felt that their ego or attitude was getting out of line, this is the best time to admonish them with a good “roo-hetour kaam-kon!” It’s another way of saying “humble yourself.” Roo is translated as face or soul and kaam-kon is translated as subract or take out.

Episode 26: Settling In To A New City

Alın yazısı
Literal: It is written on your forehead
Meaning: the widespread belief in Turkey that your destiny is predetermined, similar to
the English idiom for when a particular fate “is written in the stars.”

V nogakh pravdy nyet. (В ногах правды нет.)
Literal: There’s no truth in standing on your feet.
Meaning: This is something people often say as a gesture of hospitality. Basically,
you’re encouraging someone to sit down and make themselves at home.

Neoul Tur Yeoolo Ehlebooh– نقول طور يقولو احلبوه
Literal: We say it’s a bull, they say milk it.
Meaning: When you talk to someone who can’t understand you and can’t see your

Episode 27: What Americans Can Learn From Other Cultures

(Lao) (Spoken in Laos)
ເງ#ງາກສາມລ) / Ngeu Ngak Sam Law
Literal: Three wheels
Meaning: someone is zig-zagging around without knowing his or her way.

(Arabic) (Lebanon Specific)
Araj el Jamal Men Chifftou
Literal: The camel limped because of his lips
Meaning: Make a big deal out of nothing
When someone is in slight pain but dramatizing their situation, the Lebanese say
“araj l jamal men shefto” to indicate that there’s no need for this huge commotion.

(Moroccan derija) (Arabic dialect)
al jar thumma ddar.
Literal: The neighbor, then the house.
Meaning: When choosing a home, find good neighbors first. An Islamic teaching says: take care of your neighbors and that means 40 houses in either direction!

Episode 28: A Month In The Czech Republic

Literal: Underwear Drunk
Meaning: Drinking home alone in your underwear

Nosom para oblake
Literal: He’s ripping clouds with his nose
Meaning: It means a person is excessively proud of oneself or vain

see sor hai kwai fang สีซอให้ควายฟัง
Literal: To play the violin for the buffalo to listen to.
Meaning: Talking to a brick wall. (The person you are speaking to does not listen.)

Episode 29: The Role Of A Language Teacher

Literal: blogquake
Meaning: describes the process by which a topic explodes in the blogosphere and is
then picked up by more mainstream media outlets. (Going Viral)

(British English)
Curtain twitcher
Meaning: A nosey neighbour, often caught peering out on their street’s activities from
a curtained window, might be referred to as a “curtain twitcher.”
Example:”He’s obsessed with anything that happens on this street. He’s a bloody
curtain twitcher, but he still won’t sign for our packages.

Mǎmǎhǔhǔ (⻢马⻢马⻁虎⻁虎)
Literal: horse horse tiger tiger
Meaning: The story goes that there was once a lazy artist who only painted horses but was commissioned to paint a tiger. Trying to stick to what he knew, he illustrated a halfhorse, half-tiger monstrosity. Since the painting was neither of a horse nor a tiger, it didn’t sell. The meaning of the phrase is that something is “horse horse tiger tiger” if it is neither one thing nor the other (“so-so”).
In China, it is widely considered impolite to accept compliments; so if a local tells you, “You speak excellent Mandarin,” you can practice a little modesty with “horse horse tiger tiger.”

Muda Labudova
Literal: Balls of a swan
Meaning: Something is impossible (No explanation for why this is. I call this a true untranslatable)

Episode 30: Travel Gear For Different Environments

L’appel du vide
Literal: the call of the void
Meaning: the sudden desire to jump when you’re standing high up

Yo no como vidrio
Literal: I don’t eat glass
Meaning: I wasn’t born yesterday

Episode 31: Tales Of A Flight Attendant ft. Annabelle

(Spanish- Costa Rica)
Lava huevos
Literal: Wash the Eggs
Meaning: the act of sucking up to somebody.

(Spanish- Costa Rica)
Literal: Parachute
Meaning: Person that shows up without invitation. Pretty much used to call party crashers

Do me show
Meaning: Make it rain

Episode 32: Hostels- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

(Wolof- Senagalese Language French is official)
Xamxam du doy
Literal: Knowledge is not enough
Meaning: Knowing something isn’t the same as getting something done
I try to keep this in mind in my life and job.

Do svad’by zazhivyot / До свадьбы заживет
Literal: It will heal before your wedding
Meaning: Mainly used as a pacifier for children and young people who’ve hurt themselves in some clumsy, insignificant way—as well as between wise-cracking old folk—this phrase basically just means, “You’ll live. Everything will be okay.”

Literal: Window Weather
Meaning: as in, the kind of weather that’s nice to look at, but not experience.
My examples
-Sitting in front of a fireplace while it’s snowing
-While it’s raining
-Sometimes when it’s hot as f

Episode 33: American Foreign Language Education

L’asot Exit – לעשות אקזיט
Literal: To do an Exit
Meaning: An ‘exit’ refers to the Israeli equivalent of the ‘American Dream’, which is to create an app, sell it for millions, and live in the lap of luxury for eternity.

Hame hanel– Համը հանել
Literal: To take the taste out.
Meaning: You say this phrase to people who behave in a way that crosses a line. For example, if your kid starts misbehaving and crossing the line of an acceptable behavior, you can say this phrase to him/her.

Qti tsak chunes -Քթի ծաք չունես
Literal: You don’t have a nose hole.
Meaning: You say this to people who are oblivious or don’t know what an appropriate behavior is in a particular situation. For example, if you cook a meat dish for your vegan friend, you have no nose hole.

Episode 34: Black Twitter 101

Ãstakuŗer pat kôkhono shôrge jae na (আঁ#াক&েড়র পাত কখনও /েগ1 যায় না।)
Literal: The dustbin’s dropping never goes to heaven.
Meaning: An ignoble person can never continue in a noble company.

(Haitian Creole)
met dlo nan diven
Literal: put water in wine
Meaning: calm down, simmer down, relax

qí hŭ nán xià (骑⻁虎难下)
Literal: it is hard to dismount a tiger
Meaning: in a difficult situation, the best idea is to continue on, rather than to stop. The idiom comes from a the tale of a minister during the Northern Zhou dynasty. He was a very capable advisor and soon became regent to the young and inexperienced emperor. As the ruling dynasty was coming to a decline, his wife advised him that the wisest decision would be to continue on, as it is dangerous to dismount while riding a tiger. The minister persevered and later established the nest imperial dynasty.

Episode 35: Work-Life Balance Around The World

Halâl zâdeh
Literal: Legit/kosher birth. The suffix zâdeh means “born of”.
Meaning: Speak of the devil
Example: just as you would in English. You’re thinking about someone and they show up. Che halâl zâdeh! (What a kosher birth!)

Bau tanah
Literal: Smell of soil
Meaning: Near to death/ old people

Tinggal lima watt
Literal: five-watt left
Meaning: when you are very tired and sleepy and you look like a light bulb which cannot shine due to low watt.

Episode 36: Halloween Around The World

Zaga ne, yan ze
Literal: Less talk, less enemies.
Meaning: About being cautious with one’s words

(Yoruba- Spoken in Nigeria)
Oiho buuk’ e ka koolo bi s’upekun da le da ma.
Literal: A man’s head with an evil mind does not curve like cutlass for one to know it.
Meaning: Appearance is deceptive

(Irish Gaelic)
Gabh mo leithscéal- Gov muh leh-scale
Literal: Accept my excuse
Meaning: Excuse me, Pardon me.
This is my new preferred way of saying excuse me because I hate listening to people’s excuses. I like that the irish just admit that they’re telling you an excuse.

Episode 37: Learning a Language At Different Ages

Stara koka, dobra juha
Literal: Old hen, good soup
Meaning: An older woman might have more appeal


Žuri polako
Literal: Hurry slowly
Meaning: More Speed; less haste

Neka visi Pedro
Literal: Let Pedro be Hung (Pedro is the scapegoat)
Meaning: Let’s find a scapegoat. It refers to a novelty hit by Zagreb beat combo Kvartet 4M, whose title fell into everyday speech.

Episode 38: Fast Food Around The World


En sukkergris
Literal: A sugar pig
Meaning: Sweet tooth
(Sounds pretty mean in English, but it is pretty harmless in meaning)

Ser un cero a la izquierda
Literal: To be a zero to the left
Meaning: To not have any influence

Están mamando gallo
Literal: give a blowjob to a rooster
Meaning: To joke around

Episode 39: On The Road Again In Karolvy Vary

Valel on lühikesed jalad
Literal: A lie has short legs
Meaning: You can’t outrun the truth. It catches up with you eventually

Se prendre un râteau
Literal: to hit a rake
Meaning: You know that feeling when the person you’re interested in rejects you?

Episode 41: The Power Of Voting

Literal: Knowledge Machine
Meaning: Computer

intelekto nesužalotu veidu
Literal: face is unharmed by intellect
Meaning: To Instantly spot a fool

Episode 43: Music In Language Education

Mabigat ang kamay
Literal: Heavy-Handed
Meaning: Lazy

Magaan ang kamay
Literal: Light-Handed
Meaning: someone that is easily provoked and/or easily hits another person

Tikeh andâkhtan
Literal: to drop pieces
Meaning: Make a sarcastic/snide remark
or to cat call

Episode 44: German False Cognates- Don’t Open That Gift

Literal: Staircase joke
Meaning: In the past, this was commonly used as a phrase to refer to a moment when someone said something to you and you thought of a witty comeback after the moment had passed.

Episode 45: Graduate School For Dummies

Уши вянут. (Ushi vyanut.)
My ears are wilting.
Meaning: Whatever I just heard was so rude or obscene, I’m having a hard time
processing it

찬물도 위아래가 있다
Chan-mool-do ooi-arae-ga it-da
Cold water is from the bottom up
Meaning: There’s a certain order in life. And in Korea, this is used for impolite and
impatient kids eating at the dinner table before elders. In Korea there is a proper order
for everything even as simple as drinking water. The older person always gets served
first before the younger ones.

Episode 46: The Staples Of Thanksgiving

En faire tout un fromage
Literal: make a whole cheese about it
Meaning: Make a big deal about something

Incir cekirdegini doldurmayacak sebepler
Literal: Reasons that would not fill a fig seed
Meaning: There aren’t good enough reasons to be upset.
Figs don’t get this kind of attention in america.

jī máo suàn pí

Literal: chicken feather, garlic ski
Meaning: trivial matter/insignificant

Episode 47: Superstitions and Why We Believe Them

Terai region of Nepal
Apan gand hawai dusr ke kare dawai
Literal: Trying to cure someone else when you have an infected butthole
Meaning: Preaching without Practicing
What’s the English untranslatable for this?

(Singapore English or Singlish)
Lobang King or Queen
Literal: Lobang means- Opportunity or Chance
Meaning: Go to guy
Lobang King (我是Lobang King) is a Singaporean comedy drama which aired on Channel 8 in 2003.

(חבל על הזמן) hazman al Chaval
Literal: Shame on the time
Meaning: an exclamation of how awesome something is, perfectly suited for when you’re talking about something incredible that happened.

Episode 48: ‘Tis The Season For Christmas Markets

Að pissa í skó sinn
Originally- “Það er skammgóður vermir að pissa í skó sinn” (Peeing in your shoes will only keep you warm for a short while)
Literal: Peeing in your shoe
Meaning: something that fixes a problem for a while, but ends up making it worse in the long run

Είσαι για τα πανηγύρια (ise yia ta paniyiria)
Literal: You are for the fairs/festivals
Meaning: use this phrase when we want to humiliate someone either seriously or just for laugh. We suggest that the person is not really worthy or is incapable.

Episode 49: What Other Countries Can Learn From The United States

szukać dziury w całym
Literal: looking for a hole in the whole
Meaning: To nit pick

a face umbră pământului degeaba
Literal: to cast a shadow in vain
Meaning: said about a useless, worthless, good-for-nothing person, who will never accomplish anything in their life; a ne’er-do-well

Raconter des salades
Literal: Telling Salads
Meaning: Telling tall tales

Episode 50: The State Of The 50 States

PETA Untranslatable Change Recommendations

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Epiosde 51: Learning The Russian Language And Culture Ft. David

Где раки зимуют [gde raki zimuyut]
where crawfish hibernates or I will show you where crawfish hibernates”
Meaning: What a Russian person means by saying this is that they want to punish you cruelly for something or teach you a lesson.

Originally, Russian landlords considered shellfish to be a delicacy, especially when caught in winter. Because crawfish are hard to catch (the water was freezing), they sent peasants who had committed a crime to catch them. That’s how the idiom came about.

Взять за яйца! (Vzyat’ za yaytsa)
Literal:To grab someone’s eggs
Meaning: To make someone feel scared

Episode 52: Celebrating Christmas Traditions

Schnee von gestern
Literal: Snow From Yesterday
Meaning: old news, or which is no longer relevant or important.

Noël au balcon, Pâques au tison
Literal: Christmas on the balcony, Easter around the fire
Meaning: Various traditions link the weather on Christmas Day to the harvest and weather for the coming year – this expression means that a warm Christmas will bring a cold spring.

Le Père Fouettard
Literal: The Whipping Father
Meaning: Whipping Father is the bad cop to Père Noël’s good cop. While the French equivalent to Father Christmas gives out gifts to the good children, Le Père Fouettard has a whip in place of a sack of goodies, ready to smack any children who have been badly behaved

Episode 53- Austrian German Untranslatables

Schau ma mal- Show me
Fun to say, and get’s a lot of use

Jetzt haben wir den Salat- Now we have the salad
Meaning: When Someone messes up

Jetzt kannst die Suppe aber selbst auslöffeln
Literal: Go on and finish the soup yourself now
Meaning: not in the mood to help someone clean up their own mess

nicht das Gelbe vom Ei
Not the yellow of the egg
Meaning: unconvincing performance, poorly conceived idea or half-baked proposal

Episode 54: On The Road Again In Wien, Austria

Da liegt der Hund begraben
Literal: That’s where the Dog is buried
Meaning: That’s the heart of the matter

Episode 56: Zwischen Den Jahren

(Yoruba)- Spoken in parts of Nigeria and Benin

Ọbẹ̀ kìí gbé inú àgbà mì
Literal: The soup does not move round in an elder’s belly

Meaning: You should be able to keep secrets


Uun yi agbalagba ri n’oiho joko, omoiton le ri un n’oiho uduo.

Literal: What an elder sees while sitting down, a child can never see it while standing up.

Meaning: Experience is the best teacher

Episode 57: Pronunciation Made Simple

krathon thong phra rong
spittoon in a royal hall
Meaning: one who is consistently ordered by many people to run their errands.

À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ àkókó ń yọjú
A sculptor is summoned and the woodpecker shows up
Meaning: Never think too highly of yourself

Igbo people are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria
Ka ana achu aja, ka ikpe n’ amah ndi mmuo.
let’s keep sacrificing, let the gods take the blame.
Meaning: Do you part to avoid the blame
Weirdly kind of speaks to the absurdity of religion

Episode 58: Pure Michigan

Michigan words:
Troll- a Michigander who lives in the lower peninsula. Get it? It’s because they live ‘under’ the Mackinac Bridge.
Yoopers-used to refer to those living in the upper Peninsula.
Meijers and Krogers- With an S
The Mitten- Nickname for Michigan because it’s shaped like a mitten
The U.P- The Upper Peninsula
Party store- Liquor Store

Episode 59: The Art Of Code-Switching

Pill tuleb pika ilu peale
Literal: Tears come after long beauty”, more loosely “Long joy will result in tears
Meaning: Not to get too optimistic about life and that everything good can come to an abrupt end. Most often used in context when children are playing and someone gets hurt.

a face umbră pământului degeaba (A Facha umbra pamutili dejaba)
Literal: to cast a shadow in vain
Meaning: Said about a useless, worthless, good-for-nothing person, who will never accomplish anything in their life; a ne’er-do-well

a freca menta
Literal: To rub a mint
Meaning: To waste time. To do nothing.

Episode 60: Making Friends Abroad- Adult Edition

(Brazillian Portuguese)
Enfiar o pé na jaca
to put your feet in the jaca (tropical Brazilian fruit known for being very sticky)
Meaning: three sheets to the wind (Drunk)

(Brazillian Portuguese)
Cara de pau
Literal: Wood Face
Meaning: a brazen, shameless person
Why “wood face”? Well, try punching a piece of wood. Did it flinch? I didn’t think so.

Avoir la gueule de bois
To have a mouth of wood
Meaning: to have a hangover

Episode 61: The Importance of Hometowns Ft. Don

Thi gong thia gong lang
God loves the stupid person
Meaning: to be fortunate

Miminita koga dekiru (耳に胼胝ができる)
I’m growing a callus in my ear
Meaning: sick of hearing the same thing over and over again to the point that your ears build protective tissue to block out the nonsense.

Doku kuwa basa remade (毒食わば皿まで)
When poisoned, you might as well swallow the plate
Meaning: excusing a larger wrongdoing or bad choice when one smaller wrongdoing or bad choice has already been committed.

Episode 62: Individual Vs. Classroom Language Learning


Chesha se kadeto ne me sarbi (che-sha se ka-de-to nay may sar-bee)

Literal: To scratch where it doesn’t itch

Meaning: When you’ve done something wrong and try to get away with it but you can’t hide the truth. You are scratching yourself in the process of thinking what to say, even though nothing is itching.


Nala kungekho qhude liyasa

Literal: Even when the rooster is not present, day dawns 

Meaning: When a person thinks they are so important nothing else matters or exists, someone with a narcissistic approach to life. In English we say “no man is an island” or “6 feet of earth make all men equal”

Episode 63: Chad and Jared’s Travel Bucket List


Az ne iskam az da sŭm dobre, a na Vute da mu e zle (Аз не искам аз да съм добре, а на Вуте да му е зле)

Literal: I don’t want to feel good. I want my neighbor to feel bad.

Meaning:  A Bulgarian writer once told me “if no one hates you in Bulgaria, you are no one. You are zero”. Your neighbor has an expensive car, earns more money, and fucks good-looking women? He surely deserves rotten fish to be thrown in his garden for having a better lifestyle than you.


aleayn ma tela ean alhajib العين ما تعلا عن الحاجب

Literal: The eye doesn’t rise over the eyebrow

Meaning: Know your place


Å være pling i bollen (O varae pling I bolloon)

Literal: To be a ping in the bowl.

Meaning: To be empty-headed/stupid (from the “ping”-like noise an empty bowl makes when you tap it).

Episode 64: 5 Months In The Czech Republic Ft. David

Çdo pyll ka derra
Every forest has pigs
Meaning: Both things have their merits
Used in response to the common question I get – “Which is better, America or Albania?” One can easily infer the meaning.

dhil alkalb eumruh ma yataeadal- ذيل الكلب عمره ما يتعدل
A dog’s tail will never stand still
Meaning: Someone who has a habit, specifically a bad one, will never quit it.

Apád nem volt üveges!
Your dad wasn’t a glassmaker
Meaning: you’re blocking my view!

Episode 65: Animal Noises, The Cow Goes…

Apád nem volt üveges!
Your dad wasn’t a glassmaker
Meaning: you’re blocking my view!

pāo zhuān yǐn yù (抛砖引玉)
to cast a brick to attract jade
Meaning: just tossing an idea out there

अपनी खिचड़ी अलग पकाना / Apnee khicharee alag pakaanaa
To cook one’s own dish.
Meaning: to diverge from group mentality and instead go on one’s own unique path. Instead of cooking what is popular

Episode 66: Black History Is American History

Erjina, bchahin na- እርጅ:ና:ብቻህን:ና
Oldness. Please come alone.
Meaning: wish to be healthy, no matter how old they have become. They pray that side effects of oldness, (like illness and weakness), are not coming to them with their oldness.

(Hausa) Nigeria and Niger
Tilas ba ta rassa daki’n kwana.
Literal: Compulsion does not lack a house to sleep in.
Meaning: Necessity knows no law.

Makafo ya rassa ido, ya che ido na wari
The blind man lacks eyes, he says eyes stink.
Meaning: You cannot appreciate what you do not have.

Episode 68: Black Music is American Music


adhajal gagri chhalakat jaaye–  अधजल गगरी छलकत जाय

Literal: Half-filled pots splash more.

Meaning:  those with little knowledge keep showing it. those who know all are calm/silent.

English equivalent: Empty vessels makes the most noise.


Shak ka ilaaj to hakeem Luqmaan ke paas bhi nahi tha

Literal: Famous ancient doctor Luqmaan was not able to cure stupid thought.

Meaning: Doubt has no cure


Acordar com os pés de fora

Literal: Wake up with the feet outside

Meaning: Wake up in a bad mood, to be grumpy

English Untranslatable: Wake up on the wrong side of the bed

Episode 69: What Settling Down Means To You


aa bael mujhe mar- आ बैल मुझे मार

Literal: inviting the bull to hit you

Meaning: to get yourself into trouble, usually used to describe an act of stupidity.


Úgy szép az élet, ha zajlik.

Literal: Life is beautiful if it’s happening.

Meaning: Life is good when it is interesting when things happen, even if they are stressful or don’t go in the direction we intend them to. People use this phrase when someone is complaining that life is getting too busy, or too stressful.

Episode 70: Music Makes Language Lit


Shak ka ilaaj to hakeem Luqmaan ke paas bhi nahi tha

Literal: Famous ancient doctor Luqmaan was not able to cure stupid thought.

Meaning: Doubt has no cure

हाथों की लकीरों पर बराबर विश्वास नही करना चाहिए क्योंकि तक़दीर तो उनकी भी होती है जिनके हाथ नही होते

hathon ki lakiron par barabar vishvas nahi karna cahiye kyonki takkdir to unki bhi hoti hai jinake hath nahi hote

Literal: Your future does not depend on the lines of your hands, because people who do not have hands also have a future.

Meaning: it is better to do your work than to be superstitious and wait for the right time.

Episode 71: Language Mishaps and Mistakes


Prismyal se khŭrbel na shtŭrbel- Присмял се хърбел на щърбел

Literal: The skinny guy laughed at the guy without teeth

Meaning: Don’t mock others

(Spanish – Argentina)

Estar al pedo/estar en pedo

Literal: to be to the fart/to be in fart.

1. Meaning: Estar al pedo means that you’re not doing anything.


2. Meaning: Estar en pedo means that someone is drunk

Episode 73: Tips For New Teachers

กำขี้ดีกว่ากำตด – kam khi di kwa kam tot
Better to grab feces than flatulence.
Meaning: Receiving anything is better than nothing at all.

เกลือจิ้มเกลือ – kluea chim kluea
salt dipped in salt
Meaning: (of two persons) not conceding to each other

Ná bíodh do theanga faoi do chrios.
Don’t keep your tongue under your belt.
Meaning: Say what you want to say.

Episode 74: Movies and TV For Language Learning

Nie ucz ojca dzieci robić
Don’t teach a father how to make children
Meaning: It’s nothing more than an advice given to a person that is unnecessary as they already know it (and probably they even have more knowledge about the topic than the person giving the advice).
The English version: Don’t teach your grandmother how to suck eggs.

official language of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia
Make it five cents
Meaning: Give me the short version. Used when you want a quick summary of something because you don’t have the time (or patience) to chat.

A petra ufferta di n’amicu e comu un pumu.
A rock offred by a friend is like an apple.
Meaning: You can accept anything from a friend.

Episode 77: Home From Vacation

Binyagan na yan!
Baptize it Already!
Meaning: Time to use and dirty a new thing
I baptized my new Sambas last week

À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ àkókó ń yọjú
A sculptor is summoned and the woodpecker shows up
Meaning: Never think too highly of yourself

Episode 78: Conversation Topics To Avoid And Use

El Yetleseea Min El Shorba Yonfokh Fil Zabadi للي يتلسع من الشوربة ينفخ في الزبادي
He who burns his tongue from soup will blow in (on) yogurt.
Meaning: If you had a bad experience once, you will be extra cautious next time.

Delamo sâbun zadam
I rubbed soap on my stomach.
Meaning: I got my hopes up [and was ultimately let down].

How to use it: Like if you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, and you really hope they made your favorite dish, ghormeh sabzi, but you went and it was actually chicken. Later, you would say, “Delamo sâbun zadam ghormeh sabzi bokhoram (I got my hopes up to eat ghormeh sabzi), but they had chicken instead.”

Episode 79:Perceptions of Different Accents in English

(unu) padre può supportare 100 (Centu) ragazzi ma 100 (Centu) bambini possono’t supporto 1 padre
Literal: 1 father can support 100 kids but 100 kids can’t support one father
My Guess: The head of the family is more important?

Chi arriva per primo bastoni bandiera
Literal: Who gets there first sticks the flag
My Guess: Winner Takes All

Quanno arrivi , scrivi
When you arrive you will write (1900s when Italians were moving to the states had to let their family know they made it safe)
My Guess: Keep in touch, let me know when you make it

Episode 80: Music Scenes Around The World

Unebhungan’ ekanda.
He has a beetle in his head
Meaning: The expression is for someone who behaves strangely. In simple language the person is nuts or “Mad as a hatter”.

Kasih ibu sepanjang masa, kasih anak sepanjang galah
a mother’s love is as long as time, but child’s love is as long as wood stick.
Meaning: a mother’s love lasts forever.
This is so true. I feel this way about all of my previous relationships. I have no idea what it means to be in love

Episode 81: Games and Tricks To Engage Students And Friends

To be in a movie
Meaning: overthinking something, creating different scenarios of certain situations (that probably won’t happen), have a big ego, or are too expressive or passionate about something.

მეცამეტე გოჭი- metsamet’e goch’i
Thirteenth Pig
Meaning: a person who tries to jump into a conversation and state his or her opinion or grab attention, even though no one asked. The phrase comes from the fact that a mother pig usually has 12 breasts to feed her piglets, and when the 13th piglet is born, it’s the spare one.

Episode 82: Alphabets

მზე პირს იბანს- mze p’irs ibans
The sun washes her face
Meaning: When it’s raining on a sunny day

(French Canadian- Quebec)
Rêver en couleurs
dreaming in color
Meaning: It means to have illusions, to delude oneself.

Episode 83: Don’s Return From Europe Ft. Don Strite

(French Canadian)
Se faire chanter la pomme
Singing the apple
Meaning: to flirt
Refers to Adam and Eve and the apple representing temptation, desire, forbidden love

No tener pelos en la lengua
not to have hairs on your tongue
Meaning: To be straightforward / To tell it like it is

Despedirse a la francesa
to say goodbye in the French style
Meaning: to leave without saying goodbye, to take the French leave