There’s an endless list of idioms in the English language that can be learned in order to be more skillful. Believe it or not, idioms are present in every language. These idioms form in accordance with culture. So, it might sound a bit weird the first time hearing them.

Sometimes, idioms from your native language can have a close counterpart to other languages in a literal sense of translation. Though idioms, as we learned, have an important role to play in communication, they surely amplify your message.

Idioms, in addition, can be a door to understanding the customs and values of a foreign culture.

Ca m’a coûté les yeux de la tête

Origin: French

Literal Translation: It cost me my head’s eyes.

Meaning: It is too expensive

English Idiom: It cost me an arm and a leg.

Sample Sentence: That car cost me an arm and a leg.

Sample Dialog:

A: It was John’s birthday last week, right?

B: Yes. That’s right.

A: so, what did you give to your husband?
B: A gold bracelet. It cost me an arm and a leg but it was all worth it.

A: I’m sure he liked it.

B: He loves it, really. He wears it all the time.

당근이지! (Dang-geun i-ji)

Origin: Korean

Literal Translation: It’s a carrot.

Meaning: It is obvious.

English Idiom: As clear as day.

Sample Sentence: It’s clear as day that Ron is in love with his colleague.

Sample Dialog:

A: Ron, are you with us?

B: Huh? Are you talking to me?

A: We’ve been talking about our travel plans for next weekend.

B: You have been staring at Stella.

C: Don’t you get it? It’s clear as day that Ron is in love with her. 

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ชาติหน้าตอนบ่าย ๆ (Chāti h̄n̂ā txn b̀āy)

Origin: Thai

Literal Translation: One afternoon in your next reincarnation.

Meaning: It’s never going to happen.

English Idiom: When pigs fly.
Sample Dialog:

A: There’s a new attraction in the amusement park that was built.

B: Nice! What kind of attraction is that?

A: A Horror themed ride. Wanna try?

B: Yeah. When pigs fly!

A: You’re such a scaredy cat!

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يد واحدة ماتسقفش (Eid wahda matsa’afsh)

Origin: Arabic

Literal Translation: One hand doesn’t clap.

Meaning: Teamwork or cooperation is necessary for success.

English Idiom: to be a team player.

Sample Sentence: Mike is such a team player so everybody is comfortable working around him.

Sample Dialog:

A: We need to assign a leader for our team.

B: Yes, do you have someone in mind?

A: I’m thinking of Jamie.

B: No, she’s such a pushover.

A: Then, how about Miguel?

B: Too timid.

A: Liza?

B: I think she fits the role. Everybody loves her for being a team player.

A: I couldn’t agree more.

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Τρέχει χωρίς να φτάσει (Tréchei chorís na ftásei)

Origin: Greek

Literal Translation: Running without arriving.

Meaning: Very busy.

English Idiom: Tied up with something, busy as a bee/beaver.

Sample Sentence: I’m too tied up with my work. I can’t even go out and watch a movie.

Sample Dialog:

A: Happy Friday!

B: Wanna hang out after work?

A: Count me in!

C: Sorry I can’t. I’m tied up with work.

A: You’re such a busy bee.

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杯弓蛇影 (bēi gōng shé yǐng)

Origin: Chinese

Literal Translation: Seeing the reflection of a bow in a cup and thinking it’s a snake.

Meaning: You’re worrying about things that don’t exist.

English Idiom: to get in a fluster.

Sample Sentence: Belle was in a fluster when her secret was revealed to everyone.

Sample Dialog:

A: I’m dead!

B: Why? What happened?

A: I have a presentation and I’m anxious. What if everything will go south?

B: Jeez, why are you in a fluster? Relax!

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Ich verstehen nur Bahnhof

Origin: German

Literal Translation: I only understand the train station.

Meaning: I don’t understand a thing about what that person is saying.

English Idiom: not to be on the same page.

Sample Dialog:

A: How is it?

B: Hmm, I believe we are not on the same page with this one.

A: Oh, why so? Is there any problem with the design?
B: Yes. I said the font Oswald should be used for the subtext but you used it for the Main Title. I also instructed that you should make the background two shades lighter but it became darker.

A: Oh, I’ll fix it right away.

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Chodit kolem horké kaše

Origin: Czech

Literal Translation: To walk around hot porridge.

Meaning: to avoid coming to the point; delay in approaching a subject directly.

English Idiom: To beat around the bush.

Sample Sentence: He always goes around the bush whenever he’s anxious.

Sample Dialog:

A: How was your date with John? Are you starting to like him?

B: He’s nice.

A: Okay, and?

B: He paid for our meal.

A: Stop beating around the bush and tell me if you’re interested.

B: I’m not sure. He sure is nice but we think differently.

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Origin: Filipino

Literal Translation: Judas’ embrace.

Meaning: Insincere.

English Idiom: Judas kiss.

Sample Sentence: My friendship with him is a Judas kiss.

Sample Dialog:

A: I can’t believe Anna and Emma are still friends.

B: What do you mean? They haven’t fought yet.

A: I know but Emma is giving Anna a Judas kiss. She’s telling bad things about Anna behind her back.

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猫をかぶる (Neko o kaburu)

Origin: Japanese

Literal Translation: To wear a cat on one’s head.

Meaning: Pretending to be nice.

English Idiom: Two-faced.

Sample Sentence: He is two-faced.

Sample Dialog:

A: Mike is friendly isn’t he?

B: Not really. You shouldn’t be trusting him.

A: Oh, why so?

B: He’s two-faced.

A: Still I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. 

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