Interesting phrases from around the world

Last modified on February 21st, 2021 at 11:26 am

February 18, 2021

Google translate and a plethora of other language apps have revolutionised the way we communicate while we travel  – yet language is a funny thing and technology can’t always help.

We asked you to tell us your local phrases, expressions of sentiment, weird sayings and favourite foreign idioms to show us just how  wonderful language and cultural diversity can be.

Impress next time you are away with these little turns of phrase!

Welcome language sign
wie eine Made im Speck leben

In German you can say “to live like a maggot in bacon” instead of “to live a life of luxury.” This has become a completely natural phrase in the German language, but it paints a strange picture when you think about it. Anonymous, Germany

A wee cup of coffee.

“My Glasgow accent has greatly softened, but I do refer still to things being ‘wee’, instead of little or small. Graeme Taylor, USA/ Scotland

Qué padre!

An expression to express something cool or to you like something, we use it in Mexico the same way some say “those shoes are cool” or “that hostel is great” Sofia Garcia Torrentera, Mexico

Bless your heart!

In Southern USA, (not meant as a compliment, depending on context.) David Matheny, USA


Z is pronounced like J in French – it means cheers! Milena Zivkovic, Serbia

What’s the craic?

Used in Ireland, meaning ‘what’s up?’ or ‘what’s the news?” Melanie Lane, Ireland

Twitter pics(4)

Me clavó el visto

A new phrase that came up after the “seen” feature on Whatsapp and Facebook messages. It’s when someone sees the message but doesn’t reply, in Argentina. Candela Glikin, Argentina

Ne pas être sorti de l’auberge

A relevant one for us, this French phrase literally translates as ‘to not be out of the hostel’, but is a commonly used saying for facing a complicated problem. Cécile, France

Päästää sammakko suusta

The Finnish say ‘letting a frog out of your mouth’ is synonymous with saying the wrong thing, along with many other nature inspired sayings. Anonymous, Finland

Raining cats and dogs

There are many explanations surrounding this strange British saying for heavy rain: cats and dogs cuddling into thatch roofs and falling out, myths of wolves representing the wind and black witches’ cats as signs of a downpour, a derivative of the old English word catadupe meaning waterfall – but the true origins remain a mystery. Anonymous, UK

Pelillos a la mar

An unusual Spanish turn of phrase translating to “little hairs to sea”, often used to cool down a heated discussion which seems to have no resolution. Brianda & Maria, Spain

Have you learnt a useful or weird turn of phrase while travelling?
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3 Comments. Leave new

We have tried to explain the Danish word Hygge at Christmas time on our hostel blog from the oldest town in Denmark. See website link

Great article, and far more descriptive. Makes us feel cosy on a frosty morning, although I’m sure temperatures are lower over in Denmark! Thanks for sharing guys.

When you learn them, you begin to understand the world that surrounds the native speakers who use these expressions.

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