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17 Foreign Idioms that Sound Hilarious in English

 If you know anything about translation, you’d know that you should never translate idioms or phrases word for word, or else… this happens. As a fun exercise, we translated these 17 idioms and phrases from different languages into English, and the results are absolutely hilarious, but also very confusing. Why would pigs whistle, sheep wear make-up or bearded men put their precious beards into mailboxes? But don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging and will explain what these seemingly-silly phrases really mean. Who knows, you might even hear someone using one of these one day and be happy you understood it the right way.

1. Spanish

funny foreign idioms spanish
Original: "No tener pelos en la lengua."
In Spanish, to let you know that you or someone else is being too straightforward, they would say that you don't have hair on your tongue. According to this logic, all cats should be extremely polite...

2. Hungarian

funny foreign idioms hungarian 1
Original: "Miért itatod az egereket?"
A silly way to cheer one up when they're crying in Hungarian is to ask why are they giving drinks to mice as if our salty tears could ever be hydrating.

3. Mandarin Chinese

funny foreign idioms mandarin chinese
Original: "背黑锅" (bēihēiguō).
Don't walk around carrying a black bowl while in China, someone might blame you of something all of a sudden, at least jokingly.

4. Polish

funny foreign idioms polish
Original: "Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho?"
Well, the Polish are right about this one, it would likely be quite difficult to hear anything, really, with that massive foot on your ear.

5. Swedish

funny foreign idioms swedish
Original: "Skägget i brevlådan."
We wonder how this one originated, was someone really caught with their beard in the mailbox?

6. Aramaic

funny foreign idioms aramaic
Original: ".איסתרא בלגינא קיש קיש קריא" (istra balagina kish kish karia)
Not only do modern languages have interesting and somewhat counter-intuitive sayings, as illustrated by this ancient Aramaic proverb that's just oh so true.

7. Portuguese

funny foreign idioms Portuguese
Original: "Barata tonta".
We find that cockroaches are the opposite of clumsy, but a silly one might as well be less coordinated and skilled at running away and scaring everyone in the radius of 10 feet...

8. Japanese

funny foreign idioms japanese
Original: 猫を被る (neko wo kaburu)
Few animals are as charming and cunning as cats are, so we can totally imagine how "putting on a cat" may mean what it does.

9. German

funny foreign idioms german
Original: "Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift!"
It's hardly possible to be more sarcastic than this, at least in the distant past where everyone would keep livestock.   

10. Icelandic

funny foreign idioms
Original: "Ég mun finna þig í fjöru."
This is another one of those phrases we'd love to know the etymology of, what terrible vengeful things happened on Icelandic beaches? 

11. Italian

funny foreign idioms Italian
Original: "Trattare a pesci in faccia."
Admit it, a fish in the face does sound unpleasant, if it's not cooked, that is, otherwise it just sounds like a great meal! 

12. Russian

funny foreign idioms Russian
Original: "Кататься как сыр в масле." (katat'sya kak syr v masle)
Russian idioms, why are you so counterintuitive? How is a round of cheese rolling around in butter even connected to wealth? 

13. Ukrainian

funny foreign idioms Ukrainian
Original: "Ех, якби та якби та в роті виросли гриби." (ekh, yakby ta yakby v roti vyrosly hryby)
The best English proverb that would express the same meaning as this idiom is "If pigs could fly", but mushrooms growing in a mouth sounds way crazier than flying pigs, honestly.

14. Hebrew

funny foreign idioms Hebrew
Original: ".לא דובים ולא יער" (lo dubim velo ya'ar)
Like many idioms, this Hebrew one is based on a needlessly violent Biblical story where a few bears summoned by God from a forest mauled a group of kids to death. The nature of God's miracle in this story was so widely discussed and unclear that it turned into a proverb.  

15. Hungarian

funny foreign idioms Hungarian
Original: "Kutyaból nem lesz szalonna."
The Hungarian proverb is extremely popular and is even considered humorous, which is strange taking into account how graphic it is. 

16. French

funny foreign idioms French
Original: "J'ai d'autres chats á fouetter".
Continuing the tendency of unnecessary violence is this old French saying. We understand the ironic connotation, but still...

17. Indonesian

funny foreign idioms Indonesian
Original: (kambing dibedakin)
We're not really sure which type of livestock this proverb intends to beautify, sheep or goats, as we've also found variations of the phrase where it was a painted goat that was the protagonist, but we do understand that none of these animals are into makeup. 
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