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11 Phrases That Sound Nonsensical When Translated Into English

11 Phrases That Sound Nonsensical When Translated Into English

There are many words and phrases out there that have no exact translation into English. Some make a bit of sense, but there are also certain idiomatic phrases and expressions that are downright mind-boggling when translated into English. Here are a few of the latter:

#1 “The old lady with cakes has already passed by.”

This Croatian gem means that an opportunity has passed: you missed your chance. The next time you see an old lady carrying a tray full of cakes, you’d best tackle the woman. Get those cakes!

#2 “There are many wonders in a cow’s head.”

Now, there are many fabulous aspects of Icelandic culture, and their sprightly language is certainly one of them. This expression is roughly equivalent to: “Well, doesn’t that beat all.” Should you come home to find that a troll has moved into the space beneath your sink, this would be the appropriate saying to blurt out.

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#3 “The pot that is full does not splash.”

The general idea of this expression, taken from the Kannada tongue of southern India, is a description of someone who isn’t merely conceited and pompous, but is insufferable because he or she is unaware of their jackassery. Most of us probably know at least one person who fits that description.

#4 “To fart off your suspenders.”

Here in Quebec, there are a number of interesting expressions and this one is no exception. It means “to burst with pride”, which would undoubtedly cause one’s suspenders to snap off. Considering this region’s fondness for beans, I have little doubt as to its origins.

Speaking of Quebecois French…

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#5 “The Devil’s in the cows”

This apparently means that the weather will be changing soon, but what weather has to do with cows, I have no idea. I apologise on behalf of everyone in this province.

#6  “Wearing a cat.”

A Japanese expression that implies that someone is putting on a facade of being cute, meek, and quiet, while really being none of those things. Considering that my cat is a mouse-murdering, neurotic weirdo, I don’t think that wearing him would give quite the impression of sweetness that this saying would imply.

#7 “Don’t let someone else eat the cheese off your bread.”

I’ve heard a few different explanations for this Dutch expression, and although the one that makes the most sense has to do with not allowing someone else to take credit for what you’ve done, I have to wonder if that’s the real meaning. If you know it, please don’t hesitate to explain it in the comments section below.

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#8 “It fit like ass on a bucket”

Where would we be without subtle, gentle German phrases? This colourful and illustrative expression means “a perfect fit”, much like one would achieve by wedging one’s backside into a bucket.

#9 “That breaks my clog.”

Considering the clog reference, you may have inferred that this is another Dutch gem, but the idea behind it is akin to: “Well, that takes the cake.” It’s an expression of amazement that’s reserved for occasions when something really unexpected happens… like seeing a sheep behind the wheel of a neighbour’s car, or noticing that the windmills have been replaced with spinach.

#10 “Stop your chariot!”

Although one would have little need to yell at someone to stop their chariot nowadays, this French expression (from France, rather than here in French-Canadian land) is a request for another to stop bluffing/bullshitting. The next time someone claims to have done something and you know it’s a load of bollocks, just yodel “Arrête ton char!” at them and see how they react.

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#11 “To become a goat.”

This is another one that hails from France, and it means to be driven mad. If you’ve ever seen an angry goat, you can well understand how this saying came to be.
In all honesty, I think that some of these phrases should make their way into common vernacular, so please—don’t hesitate to pepper your daily speech and written exchanges with them. Before we know it, they’ll have worked their way into everyone’s vocabulary, and English as a whole will be a much more colourful language because of them.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

The 20 Most Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You

The 20 Most Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You

Instagram allows you to see exactly what inspires people and how creativity is drawn from their everyday life. We use Instagram to capture what makes us smile, what brings joy to our life, and what we are passionate about, and the accounts listed below are sure to inspire you in turn.

Here are our 20 top creative Instagram accounts that you should be following today.

1. Humans Of New York

Brandon Stanton walks the streets of New York City taking street photography, and he gets his subjects to open up about life details that even many family members may not know about them. It makes you smile and connect with the images at a new level.

 2.  Paris in Four Months

Carin Olsson moved to Paris and is documenting every part of her experience, from the macaroons to the Eiffel Tower with all of its shimmering lights. If you want to go to Paris but can’t get there today, Carin will take you.

3. Civilized Caveman Cooking

George Bryant offers up more than his love for cooking Paleo cuisine as he shares more about life, joy, and happiness. His coined hashtag is #hugsandbacon.

4. Andrew Knapp

Andrew has taken the world by storm with his adorable version of Where’s Waldo? His version is Find Momo, and stars his border collie.

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5. Idafrosk

Ida Skivenes has developed a knack for food art. From the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Strawberry Fields Forever, she has recreated it all with food.

6. GrandmaBetty33

Grandma Betty is fighting cancer and is inspiring others to smile and be happy in life. She brings a smile to your face instantly and is like having your grandma right beside you.

7. Maya_on_the_Move

Tania Ahsan captures the world of her cute bulldog, Maya, on her adventures in New York. Maya makes appearances that will make you smile, laugh, and inspire you to go out and create something special.

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8. Leoleoparis

Leo captures the life on the streets of Paris. Most of his work is done in black and white, offering that iconic Parisian look.

9. Jacob Santiago

Jacob Santiago creates stunning, vibrant images around New York City, showcasing the architecture and streets. I’m sure you haven’t seen the streets of NYC like this before.

10. Julie’s Kitchen

Julie Lee showcases how everyday produce can create colorful art designs. At first glance, you think it is just a design; then, a second take illustrates that it is really fruits and vegetables.

11. iloveplaymo

iloveplaymo brings together photography and Playmobil toys in action. The images are up to date with current world events and everyday life.

12. “Red” Hong Yi

Red Hong Yi loves to paint without a paintbrush. Her style uses daily items to create lovely images.

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13. Alexis Diaz

A breathtaking artist from Puerto Rico who loves to paint murals. Alexis’s work is featured all over the world.

14. Murad Osmann

Murad Osmann is a music video producer, but his claim to fame on Instagram has been his photographs with his girlfriend leading him by her hand.

15. Simone Bramate

Simone Bramate is a storyteller who just so happens to take delightful photos as well.

16. Willie Kessel

Willie Kessel brings beach life right to your smartphone. Amazing surf and lifestyle images that take your mind off of all of the work and stress in your life.

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17. Nick Ulivieri

Nick Ulivieri is a talented photographer who loves to capture the windy city of Chicago and skies, especially during storms. His images are gorgeous and make you realize how wonderful life really is.

18. Jo Jerry

Jo Jerry’s landscape photos around Santorini, Greece, make you want to book a flight immediately. The bright colors and simplicity in the images make his photos stand out from the rest.

19. GoPro

GoPro uses fan-sourced images on their account that are all captured with a GoPro. Creativity to the max is used in these images and range from the grocery store to incredible surf.

20. Vin Farrell

Vin Farrell is a creative who works on the agency side for large clients and has a knack for photography. His iPhone captures amazing aerial images around NYC and the world.

Featured photo credit: Andy via flickr.com

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