10 interesting Romanian idioms

I've written a lot about foreign languages, but very little about my native language. So, today I'll present you 10 Romanian idioms which I find interesting and funny. Let's start!

La pastele cailor - at horses' Easter. Egg showing the image of a horse.

La paștele cailor, literally translated as at Horses Easter, is the equivalent of the English idiom at the Greek calends or when two Sundays come together. Simply put, it means never!

A vinde gogosi (Romanian) - to sell doughnuts.

The meaning of a vinde gogoși is far from its literal translation - to sell doughnuts. It means to tell fibs, that is to lieee!

A scoate din pepeni (Romanian) - to take someone out of the watermelons.

This is one of my favorite idioms - a scoate din pepeni. Translated word by word it means to take someone out of the watermelons. Probably you wouldn't guess, it means to make one angry.

A calca pe bec - to step on a light bulb

A călca pe bec - to step on a light bulb - is a quite easy one. It means to make a mistake/to get into trouble.

Floare la ureche (Romanian) - flower behind the ear.

This test is flower behind ear. That means the test is a piece of cake/very easy! Floare la ureche!

A fi prins cu mata-n sac (Romanian) - to be caught with the cat in the bag.

A fi prins cu mâța-n sac, translated as to be caught with the cat in the bag, means to be caught red-handed. Ups!

A se uita ca boul la poarta noua (Romanian) - to stare like an ox at a new gate

A se uita ca boul la poartă nouă - this is one I heard quite often in Romanian environment. Translated literally as to stare like an ox at a new gate, it means to be confused

A taia frunza la caini (Romanian) - to cut leaves for the dogs

To cut leaves for the dogs wouldn't make much sense, would it? So, a tăia frunză la câini means to waste time.

A-si baga piciorul (Romanian) - to stick your feet in. Confused man.

Trying to do something, but not succeeding, one might decide to stick his feet in. A-și băga piciorul means to call it quits, a tougher version of to give up.

A iesi basma curata (Romanian) - to go clean headkerchief

And finally, if you did something bad, but got scot-free, we'd say in Romanian you got clean headkerchief - ai ieșit basma curată!


That's it, curious reader. Now, tell me, which idiom you liked the most? 

31 comments:

  1. :D LOL that's so funny. I love the Horses Easter. How would you pronounce it? And the one about picking leaves for dogs. So cool.

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  2. I am always very eager to know about various languages that are being spoken all over the world. Thank you for sharing those Romanian idioms with their apparent as well as actual meaning. It will help me to put them in use while writing about various issues..

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  3. I think that every country has it's own idioms and expressions that make no sense to others. To sell donuts can sound very strange to a non-romanian when you are referring to a lie, haha

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  4. Languages are not at all my strong point. I wish they were ... since I travel a lot. I often find the translations do not do justice to the original meaning of the phrase. I found your post idea was unique and interesting though.

    ❥ tanvii.com

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  5. i feel like i need to start using the phrase "to take someone out of the watermelons"!!! I love it. My friends are going to hate me for it though!

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    1. Haha, I love it too! It's so funny and strange!

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  6. Ha this is so cool. My favorite is "the flower behind the ear". Now if I could hear you actually say it I could incorporate it into my daily convos lol. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. This is SO interesting. Love that you did this. So many languages are hard to translate directly.

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    1. Thank you, Komal! I'm glad you like it.

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  8. Ahh! Flower behind the ear means easy? I would have guessed it meant "icing on the cake" - the finishing topping. I wouldn't have guessed what these others meant either. Also, an interesting juxtaposition - in English - to dig your feet in doesn't mean give up - it means to become more determined.

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    1. So interesting! I didn't know "to dig your feet in" means to become more determined in English. Indeed, the juxtaposition is so funny! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I don't know Romanian, but have friend from there, need to go through these with her, to explain it better to me

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  10. I love learning new languages so this post was so fun to read! :)

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  11. It’s always cool to hear idioms from other countries. You always wonder what brought these idioms about so many years ago. I love the illustrations that go with the phrases.

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  12. What a fun lesson you shared with us! I like the idiom about being confused, because that's me in daily life :)

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  13. Really informative post. I always look for cool and interesting ways to learn foreign languages.

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  14. loved all of these...specially the one about cutting leaves for dogs...there are such great treasures in every language!

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  15. Ahh I love translations like this! This was really fun and interesting to learn! I remember living in Holland they have some really funny ones like this, they didn't make sense if you put the words literally.

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  16. Love learning about other cultures and languages I am currently learning spanish, interesting post.

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  17. Haha this post really made me laugh. I've spent twenty years studying Latin and I could write a post like this on Latin, would be hilarious!

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  18. Oh my, this post got me laughing out loud. Thanks for sharing these idioms, I have always been interested in learning a bit of other languages.

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  19. I always find it interesting to learn new things about various languages, and it has always interested me how certain idioms come about. sometimes the literal translation is just way too hilarious lol!

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  20. I love these idioms and their meanings, idioms are in general great part of any culture. I have heard few of these from my Romanian colleagues. I really like the the one - To cut leaves for the dogs - a tăia frunză la câini means to waste time.

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  21. Interesting article here always good to klearn new languages. I like a vinde gogoși - to make donuts, wonder what the phrase is "to eat donuts" ;) x

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  22. Interesting to learn Romanian idioms. And the way you have added humor to these idioms through lovely cartoons I like all.

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  23. These are great. Two Sundays. I love that one. In Korean there are a lot of idioms too. One of my fav is Ignorance is medicine, knowledge is sickness.

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  24. Very interesting! Idioms are making language deeper and more interesting. I think it’s a mark of feeling the language

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  25. haha thanks for the crackup! I really like the taking out of watermelon one :D i hope to remember this till i see my romanian friend over the weekend :D
    Anna x

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  26. a scoate din pepeni is my favorite, it is so funny! the romanian language seems so interesting!

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