Culture

Idioms are a brilliant form of linguistic gibberish. Amusing gibberish but gibberish nonetheless. Infused with meaning that is entirely dependent on context and cultural background, idioms are the plague of foreign language learners. In English we say crazy things like ‘let the cat out of the bag’ and ‘when pigs fly’, leaving speakers of other languages baffled. What cat? Why is it in a bag? How could a pig fly?

All languages have idioms and now it’s the English-speakers’ turn to feel confused. Read on for 11 brilliant idioms from around the world that’ll make you laugh out loud.

 

 

Idioms1

Meaning: This bizarre slapstick-comedy scenario is used to refer to somebody who didn’t have to work to get where they are.

 

 

Idioms2

Meaning: Strangely unnerving, this idiom means something along the lines of two people knowing each other’s secrets.

 

 

Idioms3

Meaning: One for anyone who’s ever been dumped, ditched or jilted, at least you didn’t have water poured over your head. This jaunty Tamil idiom is another way of saying ‘to end a relationship’.

 

Idioms4

Meaning: Nothing to do with letting a secret out, this idiom means to buy something without inspecting it first and can be found in a similar form in Swedish, Polish and Norwegian, too.

 

Idioms5

Meaning: This is absolutely adorable. A ‘cats forehead’ in Japan is a tiny space, often used to humbly refer to a small apartment or a small piece of land you may own.

 

 

Idioms6

Meaning: In English there are tons of subtle ways to imply that someone isn’t telling the truth but this Latvian idiom for talking nonsense or lying is by far the cutest.

 

 

Idioms7

Meaning: A bit like, it’s no use crying over spilled milk, this idiom means that what’s happened cannot be undone. The carrots cannot be uncooked!

 

 

Idioms8

Meaning: No, this person doesn’t have a particularly well-lacquered hairdo, this idiom means ‘he’s very stubborn’, or ‘his opinions will not change’.

 

 

Idioms9

Meaning: If someone told you that you were pushing something with your belly, especially if it was a shopping trolley or a baby’s pram, you may think they were commenting on your weight but they wouldn’t be, they would be telling you that you’re postponing an important chore.

 

 

Idioms10

Meaning: It’s really easy, it’s not complicated, it’s simple. Simple as a bread roll with butter.

 

 

Idioms11

Meaning: In Croatian ‘balls of a swan’ is used to refer to a situation or undertaking that is impossible. Wonderful.

 

 

 

If you can imagine it there’s probably someone out there doing it. If someone’s out there doing it there’s probably someone talking or writing about it. If someone’s talking or writing about it then sooner or later there’s going to be a word for it. From sensations to strange occurrences to accidents and disorders, read on for 7 disturbing things you had no idea there was a word for.

DisturbingWords1

Adelphepothia is derived from the word, adelphe which means sister and pothos which means desire. It’s unclear where the word came from or when it was first used but it is a word and it is a thing and I am disturbed.
DisturbingWords2

If you ask me this word is just a cop-out, a way for surgeons to avoid having to actually utter the words ‘I left a surgical sponge inside your body’. Horrifyingly a study completed by the Irish Journal of Medical Science has cited the frequency of gossypiboma occurring as high as 1 out of every 3000 to 5000 operations.
DisturbingWords3

There are few sensations as creepy as looking up from your coffee, your laptop or your book and seeing somebody leering at you. How long have they been watching you like that? Sometimes it’s not enough to catch the person in the act, they just keep on staring anyway. In my experience the only thing that works is flipping the bird and turning your back.
DisturbingWords4

I hate, hate, hate being tickled and if I had my way tickling someone against their will would be grounds to have them arrested for grievous bodily harm. An English word, the etymology of gargalesthesia is unknown.
DisturbingWords5

Although diabulimia is not generally recognised by medical communities the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year.
DisturbingWords6

So far I’ve given you words for disturbing sensations or experiences that, if we’re lucky, we can avoid ever having to deal with but lethologica is something most of us have felt and man, is it disturbing. The word lethologica was coined by Carl Jung from the Ancient Greek words lethe, meaning ‘forgetfulness’ and logos, meaning ‘word’.
DisturbingWords7

Yes, this is a real thing. I’ve been unable to find any etymology for krukolibidinous but let’s take an educated guess and say the French came up with it. They did invent the Cancan after all.

 

 

Learning how to say ‘thank you’ in the native tongue of the country in which you are a guest isn’t just polite, it’s also a way of opening your arms to the local people and their culture. It’s a small effort but one that’s invariably welcomed and appreciated – even if your pronunciation is dismal – and signals to the people you meet that you’re embracing their home in all its glory. It may be the only phrase you’re able to learn but it’s the one that counts the most.

Read on for 15 ways to say thank you from around the world.

Thank You Around World 011) Obrigado/a

Country – Brazil

Language – Brazilian Portuguese

An informal way of expressing gratitude in Portuguese, obrigado is one work you’re going to want to learn if you plan on visiting Brazil.

 

Thank You Around World 022) Danki

Country – South Africa

Language – Afrikaans

South Africa has no less than eleven official languages. Afrikaans is one of the most spoken languages in the nation but Zulu remains South Africa’s number one mother tongue.

 

Thank You Around World 033) Qujanaq

Country – Greenland

Language – Greenlandic

Greenlandic is unsurprisingly the most spoken language in Greenland and is closely related to the inuit languages of Canada. An extremely descriptive language that is heavy on the polysyllables, a single Greenlandic word can carry the meaning of an entire English sentence.

 

Thank You Around World 044) Þakka þér

Country – Iceland

Language – Icelandic

Most English speakers find Icelandic all but impossible given the complete lack of Latinate words, plethora of vowels and complex pronunciation. Just master ‘thank you’ and hope for the best.

 

Thank You Around World 055) Di ou mesi

Country – Haiti

Language – Haitian Creole

Haitian creole is spoken by up to 12 million people worldwide. Although Haitian vocabulary resembles French, its sentence structure is similar to that of West Africa’s Fon language.

 

Thank You Around World 066) Takk

County – Norway

Language – Norwegian

If you want to take it up a notch you can say tusen tak which means ‘thank you very much’.

 

Thank You Around World 077) спасибо

(Spasibo)

Country – Russia

Language- Russian

Spasibo is apparently the standard way to say thank you in Russian but if you want to go super informal you can say ‘pasib’.

 

Thank You Around World 088) ممنونم

(mamnūnam)

Country – Iran

Language – Persian (Farsi)

The Farsi language is spoken in Iran and by minority groups in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and other middle eastern nations.

 

Thank You Around World 099) धन्यवाद

Dhanyavad

Country – India

Language – Hindi

The fourth most popular language in the world, Hindi is spoken by over 250 million people in India.

 

Thank You Around World 1010) Asanti

Country – Southeast Africa

Language – Swahili

The official language of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Swahili and is thought to have derived primarily from Arabic.

 

Thank You Around World 1111) dziękuję

(dziekuje)

Country – Poland

Language – Polish

I visited Poland and found it impossible to pronounce this word properly but hey, you’ve got to give it a go. A Slavic language, Polish has over 40 million native speakers.

 

Thank You Around World 1212) Mulţumesc

Country – Romania

Language – Romanian

In Romanian culture, like most cultures, saying thank you is very important but so is finishing every scrap of food on your plate so be sure to fast before you accept a dinner invitation.

 

Thank You Around World 1313) Terima Kasih

Country – Indonesia/Malaysia

Language – Bahasa Indonesia/Bahasa Malaysia

Terima Kasih literally means ‘to receive your love’ and has to be the most heart-warming translation I’ve ever heard.

 

Thank You Around World 1414) 谢谢

xiè xie

Country – China

Language – Mandarin Chinese

The only phrase I mastered during a month-long trip to Taiwan, xiè xie is indeed the mandarin Chinese way of saying thank you but bear in mind that the use of ‘thank you’ in Chinese is very different to the liberal use of thank you in English.

 

Thank You Around World 1515) ขอบคุณ

Khopkhun

Country – Thailand

Language – Thai

Bear in mind that the Thai language is modified depending on the gender of the speaker. A mistake could lead to a misunderstanding you really don’t want to get into with a stranger.

There are many things to be afraid of in this world – serial killers, plane crashes, incurable diseases, anything that could lead to a tragic and premature death, really – but many people sidestep the more obviously frightening aspects of life and focus their fear on things that are, well, not traditionally thought of as frightening.

A phobia is in essence an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something so it follows that most phobias are by definition a bit silly but even I, a sufferer of Coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) found some of the phobias on this list unbelievable.

Read on for 11 words for phobias you won’t believe are real.
phobias1

Admitting to suffering from eisoptrophobia seems like the perfect way to make people think you might be a sexy, tortured vampire.

 
phobias2

I have a fear of getting out of bed and I know I’m not the only one.
phobias3

Just don’t look up?
phobias4

Never come over to my apartment. Never.
phobias5

“Old McDonald had a farm, ee, aye, ee, aye, oh. And on that farm he had a duck, ee, aye..”

“Stop! No, please, God. Make it stop!!!”
phobias6

I can actually get behind this one. Have you ever put your feet into a lake or a river and felt something cold and scaly run across your skin? Gah.
phobias7

I’m afraid of insanity alright. My own.
phobias8

On average, fifty people in the USA are struck and killed by lightning every year. Just saying.
phobias9

Really inconvenient this one, considering microbes are everywhere including in the air we breathe.
phobias10

If there is a form of this that applies only to hard work with long hours and little pay then yes, I’ve definitely got that.
phobias11

This would have been okay in the nineties but now that beards are de rigeur in most of North America and Europe all the pogonophobics are in serious trouble.

Learners of German are often slightly horrified when they catch sight of some of the longer words in the German language. The Germans do this wonderful compound word thing you see, where instead of just having a phrase made up of a series of words they jam them all together into one big, long word that looks horrendously complicated but is actually just missing spaces.

Mark Twain once remarked that “Some German words are so long that they have perspective.” With this in mind read on for 9 ridiculously long German words and their meanings.

 

Long German Words 01

A word that sort of means boyfriend/girlfriend or partner, Lebensabschnittgefährter literally translates as ‘the person I am with today’ giving whole new meaning to ‘it’s complicated’.

 

Long German Words 02

Meaning vaguely ‘demonstrations of friendship’, Freundschaftsbezeighungen has no real equivalent in English and having never had a German friend I’m not totally sure as to what it refers to. Hugs?

 

Long German Words 03


Although insanely long and seemingly impossible to pronounce, you can’t really blame the Germans for the existence of Siebentausendzweihundertvierundfünfzig as it is the written form of the number 7,254 and so, a shorter, easier version does exist.

 

Long German Words 04

This word means simply, food intolerance, which bit is which I have no idea.

 

Long German Words 05

As we fall ever farther down the linguistic rabbit hole we reach Handschuhschneeballwerfer, a word that expressed the fairly complex phenomenon of a person who wears gloves to throw snowballs.

 

Long German Words 06

The most beautiful long words in German are the most bureaucratic.

 

Long German Words 07

Imagine trying to read this one a sign? While breaking the speed limit because you can’t read the sign.

 

Long German Words 08

At least you’re not going to use this very often.

 

Long German Words 09

Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest German word in, sort-of, every day use, Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften is the winner of the most ridiculously long German word competition.

 

 

Never say thingy again!

Read on for 9 words for things you didn’t even know had a name.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 01

Did you know there was a word for that point metal bit on the end of an umbrella? Well, know you do. The word ferrule comes from the Latin word viriola (somehow) meaning ‘small bracelet’.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 02

Finally – there’s a word for these little jerks who seem to miraculously appear all over your document, irritating you with their smug, little backward P shape, and refusing to disappear no matter what you do. They’re pilcrows, of course! The word pilcrow can be traved back to the Latin word paragraphus, meaning ‘sign used to make a new section of writing’.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 03

Those who have puppies or have grown up having lots of pets around the home might already know about this one but it was news to me. Apparently that little extra claw that hangs strangely and pointlessly halfway up a dog’s leg? That’s a dewclaw.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 04

This has quite genuinely made my day. All this time we’ve been referring to the ‘dots’ over our is and js when we should have been called them tittles! I’m so happy right now.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 05

Another mind-blowing discovery for today. So that bit at the end of your laces that, if you’ve had your sneakers for way too long, will eventually start to split away, making threading your laces an impossible task? That’s an aglet and now you know you can actually say the sentence, ‘darn, my aglets have split’ and know you’re making total sense. The word aglet comes from the Latin word for needle, ‘acus’.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 06

My first thought on this one was like, can’t we all get along just fine without this particular word. Then I thought about the people who sell keys and locks, fancy restoration people who find this stuff on old castles and burglars who need to be able to talk about what they’re working with and realised, yeah, we do need escutcheon. The word comes from the Latin for shield, ‘scutum’.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 07

So your lunule is the pale crescent-shape at the base of your fingernail and the word lunule comes from the Latin word for moon, ‘luna’ but why have we even got lunules in the first place? Who knows.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 08

This one is quite obvious if you think about it but it’s great word to add to your vocabulary nonetheless. Now you can complain about other bowlers with specificity, ‘he encroached on my approach’, ‘he spilt his beer next to our approach’, ‘he’s lying passed out on our approach’, etc.

 

Words Didnt Know Name 09

From the latin word for bald, ‘glaber’, glabella is that little stretch of forehead directly between your eyebrows which, for most people, is ironically not bald at all but must be painfully waxed or tweezed to maintain a strictly two-eyebrow appearance. Ouch.

There are hundreds of English words about alcohol, the act of drinking alcohol and suffering the effects of having drunk alcohol. If you take into account variations in language, colloquialisms and straight-up swear words the list is endless. Time for a few you haven’t heard before, I think.

Read on for 9 great words about drinking to be used over the festive period.

 

Words About Drinking 01

While there are hundreds of synonyms for the word drunk, there aren’t that many for just mildly drunk. Tipsy is the most common, merry comes out from time to time and now we’ve got jingled too.

 

Words About Drinking 02

The etymology of this word is great. To ‘vandyke’ comes from the Flemish painter Van Dyke, an artist known for painting subjects wearing exaggeratedly zig-zag Elizabethan collars.

 

Words About Drinking 03

This word just shows how far from its original meaning a word can stray. Now symposium generally refers to a meeting, or conference of experts or a published collection of essays but it once just meant a serious party.

 

Words About Drinking 04

Even though this word has been a feature of the English language since the 16th century, no one seems to know where this it came from. It sounds Scottish to me but then most words about drinking do.

 

Words About Drinking 05

While I’ve certainly heard a waitress ask ‘is this dead?’ when referring to a glass or bottle with very little of the good stuff left in it I’ve never heard the empty vessel in question referred to as a dead man. Features in William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Newcomes (1855)

 

Words About Drinking 06

From the Greek word for intoxication ‘kraipalē’ this word has nothing to do with the typically British affliction of ‘feeling crap’, believe it or not.

 

Words About Drinking 07

A direct translation of this word from German to English is ‘the cat’s misery’, which in itself it just wonderful and perfectly describes a high level hangover.

 

Words About Drinking 08

A gorgeous expression, the ‘angel’s share’ is thought to have originated with French cognac-makers, the romantic devils.

 

Words About Drinking 09

Used by Dickens in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1838), pot-valiant is another way of saying Dutch-courage.

 

While I’m far from being misanthropic, there are certain people who, at various points in my life, have really ground my gears. You can’t get on with everyone and some people are just, let’s face it, irritating. But what is it, specifically, that you just can’t get away with?

To help you deal with your frustration we’ve come up with 9 new words to describe the worst kinds of people.

 

1)

WordsWorstPeople1

We all know a proper zoilist, don’t we? In my experience the best defence you have against someone committed to the practise of zoilism is to smile, thank them for their compliment and walk away.

 

2)

WordsWorstPeople2

See also: busybody, gossip or mother-in-law.

 

3)

WordsWorstPeople3

An Agelast is not a person who doesn’t laugh because nothing amuses them, it’s a person who doesn’t laugh because they don’t want to. Each to their own, I guess.

 

4)

WordsWorstPeople4

 

This word is a mash-up of the French word for small, petit, and the old English word, fogger, that once meant ‘lawyer’.

 

5)

WordsWorstPeople5

 

This is a great word, mostly because it sounds kind of friendly and childish but it’s actually incredibly insulting.

 

6)

WordsWorstPeople6

 

 

Definitely not something I’ve ever thought of calling someone, the word smellfungus comes from an 18th century novel in which a traveller satirized a popular travel guidebook of the day.

 

7)

WordsWorstPeople7

 

Umm, old people then?

 

8)

WordsWorstPeople8

 

Yes, I love it when people do this! ‘No, I have committed to this error and will see it through to the death!’

 

9)

WordsWorstPeople9

 

 

A perfect word to finish with. We all know a backpfeifengesicht and now perhaps just calling them a backpfeifengesicht will suffice and no fists will need to be thrown.

 

 

Isn’t there just. How many times have you told someone something after a bottle of wine you wouldn’t have dared to tell them sober. Pliny the Elder is responsible for first noting this fact in the first century AD.

 

In certain situations modern English just won’t do and you’re forced to look to the classical languages to fully express yourself. These situations are limited, yes, a Harry Potter fan party or a Latin professor’s conference are the only situations I can come up with right now but nevertheless knowing a bit of Latin seems like it might come in handy

Read on for the 9 best Latin phrases and their meanings.

 

Latin Phrases 01

Ad astra per aspera is the motto of many organisations as well as being the motto of the state of Kansas.

 

Latin Phrases 02

Originally written by Pindar, ancient Greek poet from Thebes, this phrase was made faous by Erasmus as the title of his meditation on the subject of war.

 

Latin Phrases 03

The poet Horce shared this advice in his Ars Poetica which suggested that by combining the beneficial with the enjoyable, everyone wins.

 

Latin Phrases 04

The motto of the United States Marine Corps since 1883, this particular phrase is one of the most used Latin phrases around.

 

Latin Phrases 05

No-one knows where this particular phrase was first used but it has served as a motto for various schools and colleges throughout history.

 

Latin Phrases 06

Another phrase that came from Horace, this time in his third book of Odes, ‘more lasting than bronze’ is how Horace referred to his poetry and he’s got a point.

 

Latin Phrases 07

This phrase is generally used to refer to a person’s legacy and I expect it’s been uttered once or twice at a funeral. A monument dedicated to Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, stands nearby the cathedral and features these words.

 

Latin Phrases 08

Everyone’s favourite aphorism, nosce te ipsum was one of the Delphic maxims and has been used by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alexander Pope and Samuel T. Coleridge

 

Latin Phrases 09

Isn’t there just. How many times have you told someone something after a bottle of wine you wouldn’t have dared to tell them sober. Pliny the Elder is responsible for first noting this fact in the first century AD.

 

Everybody’s afraid of something. Spiders, serial killers, clowns, serial-killing clowns and with good reason, the world can be a pretty messed-up, frightening place. A problem shared is a problem halved and talking about the things that scare you can be great therapy and a really effective way of facing your fears. We all have those strange, niggling fears that play on our minds but that we daren’t mention to another human being for fear of being branded that most damning of species – a freak.

I’m aware I’m putting it all out there here and there’s a chance you’re all going to say, well I’ve never been scared of getting old, or people forgetting me or throwing myself off a cliff accidentally on purpose, leaving me to wallow in my now confirmed freak-ness, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Read on for 7 words for fears we’ve all felt but never admitted to.

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 01

Ever thought, ‘it’s too quiet here’? I certainly have. There’s something unnerving about places that are completely deserted, silent and still and I’m not totally sure what it is but it might have something to do with how far I’m potentially going to have to travel to find something to eat.

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 03

I was riding in the passenger seat of my friend’s car one time and just as we rounded a particularly perilous corner on a hillside she thought it was the perfect moment to ask if I ever felt like driving my car off the edge of a cliff. Yeah, I admitted, all the time, and fastened my seatbelt.

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 02

New things are scary. New people, new places, new experiences, all scary but also invigorating and just generally good for you so face your fear on this one every single day, people.

Fear All Felt Never Admit 04

I read this more as a fear of being faced with long words and being unable to spell them or pronounce them correctly leading to an experience of derision and contempt from one’s peers. Pretty ridiculous word to be fair, though.

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 05

A fear of failure – universally felt but rarely acknowledged. How many people are so scared of failure they never try, thus effectively hiding their fear forever?

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 06

Hell yes I’m scared of getting old. Dementia, strokes, joint replacements, veins that look like blue spaghetti. Scary stuff.

 

Fear All Felt Never Admit 07

There are three fairly distinct fears present in the meaning to this spectacular word and of all three I’ve for to say the fear of being forgotten is the worst.