Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute

Blog   |   Language, Learning and Culture

Classes in More than 25 Languages return to blog index

10 of the Weirdest International Slang Phrases

Studying language is not only an enriching process, but sometimes it can be downright entertaining. Here in the United States we have our fair share of goofy phrases. For example where did "happy as a clam" come from? What on earth could make a clam happy? Or did you know that "pipe dream" actually refers to the dreams experienced by smokers of opiates?

While there are plenty of phrases that could be dissected in American English, we picked our top 10 strangest phrases around the world:

Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking – English (Australian): Extremely busy.

Down under, the term "flat out" is Australian slang for "busy." While the lizard isn't a particularly busy fellow, lizards move their tongues quickly when drinking and serves as the busiest they ever really get. The phrase could just as easily be "flat out like a working parent who is also trying to master French."

Rosiner i pølser – Norwegian

A Raisin in the Sausage: A pleasant surprise in something already good.

While this phrase may sound like it has less-than-wholesome roots, it actually just means a delightful surprise in something that's already great. Sure, the sausage is a not something "already good" for a vegetarian and there aren't too many people who actually love raisins, but that's what it means. Since Norway is consistently rated as one of the happiest places to live, we'll take their word for it on this one.

¡Aguas! – Spanish (Mexico)

Waters!: Be Careful!

If, for example, you are in Mexico City and you see your friend step into the street. Suddenly, you spot a car headed directly for your friend! The phrase you would shout in this situation is "¡Aguas!" Allegedly this is derived from when a woman would pour water on the sidewalk, making the path dangerous for sidewalkers. To warn friends of the slippery surface a passerbyer would shout, "water!" to help avoid disaster.

Nosom para oblake – Serbian

He's Ripping Clouds with His Nose: He's very conceited.

It's pretty common in the animal kingdom for the dominant to hold heads up high. Even more so is for those who know their superiority and hold their noses even higher. The background to this phrase is that the individual holds their head – and nose – SO high that they are breaking the clouds in the sky with their raised nose. Perhaps like the Pinocchio of conceit.

Avoir les dents longues – French

To Have Long Teeth: To be very ambitious.

In considering what it takes for a lion or tiger to successfully bring home a full meal, having long teeth could make sense as desirable equipment. This is from where around the 14th century the French took the term "long teeth" to become a reference for "hungry." It was a short logical leap from there that hungry became "hungry for success."

Te Crees Muy Muy – Spanish (Mexico)

You Think You're Very, Very: You think you're big time.

Another loose translation is, "You think you're a bad***." Either way, the speaker is being somewhat facetious in a teasing manner. Sort of like the American English, "You think you're hot stuff?" when a friend is joking with another that they think they are a big deal.

Ohrwurm – German

Earworm: Having a song stuck in your head.

Having a song stuck in your head is a less than appealing experience, however the friendly folks in Germany have found a way to make it worse. The term "ohrwurm" means earworm, providing even further reason for you to do everything you can to get that silly song out of your head, lest a worm remain in your ear!

喉から手が出る (nodo kara te ga deru) – Japanese

My Hand is Coming Out of My Throat: I really want that.

Think of those times when you really wanted that job, sweater, or house. This is the graphic expression for you in that circumstance. The phrase likely comes from a time when food was scarce and the hunger people felt was so strong they felt like a hand could reach out of their stomach to grab any food available. Now – it can refer to anything your heart may desire in that moment.

Innerer Schweinehund – German

Inner pig dog: The scoundrel inside you responsible for when you are lazy.

Those mornings when you can't be bothered to get up and go to work? Or when you know you need to go to the gym and just…won't? Don't worry, it's not your fault. The true blame is on your inner pig dog. He's that inner voice who tells you that you don't need to be productive, responsible or active today. Bummer is he doesn't take responsibility when you actually do get to work or the gym and there's a copious amount of tasks to catch up on.

Lui è come un polpo – Italian

He is like an octopus: This person is too clingy.

This phrase came from a person describing their ex partner, who allegedly became too attached and continued to do so after the termination of the relationship. This can conjure hilarious images of an octopus with oversized tentacles, desperately reaching for the poor person trying to evade capture. Yikes!

There are so many wonderful – and strange – phrases across cultures and languages that are purely idiomatic and sometimes don't make much sense. What are some of your favorites?

The First Modern Hatchback

The First Modern Hatchback

2017-05-26

Keeper of the Bridge

Keeper of the Bridge

2017-05-25

The Anti-Pensioner Volvo

The Anti-Pensioner Volvo

2017-05-24

Introduction to the Philippines

Introduction to the Philippines

2017-05-23

Where Women Brew the Village Beer

Where Women Brew the Village Beer

2017-05-19

Bewitchingly Flawed

Bewitchingly Flawed

2017-05-18

Just the Happy Country Songs, Please. We're Japanese

Just the Happy Country Songs, Please. We're Japanese

2017-05-17

Japan's Caprice

Japan's Caprice

2017-05-16

The First Martians

The First Martians

2017-05-15

Dolma or Tolma?

Dolma or Tolma?

2017-05-12

Jetta: Hip to be Square

Jetta: Hip to be Square

2017-05-11

Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich: Wiener Schnitzel

Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich: Wiener Schnitzel

2017-05-10

The Big-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride

The Big-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride

2017-05-09

Dutch in Paradise

Dutch in Paradise

2017-05-08

The World Envies Us for One Thing

The World Envies Us for One Thing

2017-05-05

Nyusu Flash: You Know 26 Words in Korean

Nyusu Flash: You Know 26 Words in Korean

2017-05-04

La Tour Eiffel: Ça, c'est Paris!

La Tour Eiffel: Ça, c'est Paris!

2017-05-03

When I See an Alfa Romeo go by, I Tip my Hat

When I See an Alfa Romeo go by, I Tip my Hat

2017-05-02

How Does the Bilingual Brain Work?

How Does the Bilingual Brain Work?

2015-08-19

Reasons to Learn Italian

Reasons to Learn Italian

2015-03-24

Reasons to Learn French

Reasons to Learn French

2015-02-27

3 Unbelievable Spanish-Speaking Travel Hotspots

3 Unbelievable Spanish-Speaking Travel Hotspots

2015-01-14

10 of the Weirdest International Slang Phrases

10 of the Weirdest International Slang Phrases

2014-12-17

How Bilingualism Improves Your Health

How Bilingualism Improves Your Health

2014-10-14

Why You Should Learn a Language Today

Why You Should Learn a Language Today

2014-07-16

Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

2014-07-10

Why Adults are Better Language Learners than Children

Why Adults are Better Language Learners than Children

2014-07-01

How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual - Infographic

How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual - Infographic

2014-01-15

A Proven Approach to Language Lessons

A Proven Approach to Language Lessons

2013-12-23

Top Quality Spanish Teachers

Top Quality Spanish Teachers

2013-12-23

Affordable French Lessons of the Highest Quality

Affordable French Lessons of the Highest Quality

2013-12-23

A Better Way to Learn Italian

A Better Way to Learn Italian

2013-12-23

High Quality Spanish Courses

High Quality Spanish Courses

2013-12-23

Italian School

Italian School

2013-12-23

Top Quality French Teachers

Top Quality French Teachers

2013-12-23

Finding the Best Language School

Finding the Best Language School

2013-12-23

Italian Tutors

Italian Tutors

2013-12-23

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution

2012-12-12