Foreign Phrases, Words & Idioms To Inspire You (Or Make You Chuckle)

I’ve recently got interested in sayings in other languages, don’t ask me why! However, they are great writing resources and I thought I’d share a few of my favourite finds…

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‘Tranche de vie’ (French)
Translation: A slice of life. i.e. A realistic representation of everyday experience in a film, play, or book.

‘Ultima ratio regum’ (French)
Translation: The final argument of kings. i.e. War.

223 other foreign phrases, mostly French, can be found here.


‘Fernweh’ (German)
Translation: Feeling homesick for a place you’ve never been to.

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‘Mamihlapinatapei’ (Yagan)
Translation: A wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.

Find 25 other translations along with beautiful illustrations here.


‘Det föll mellan stolarna’ (Swedish)
Translation: It fell between two chairs. Eg. An excuse you use when two people were supposed to do something, but nobody did.

‘ชาติหน้าตอนบ่าย ๆ’ (Thai)
Translation: One afternoon in your next reincarnation. Eg. It’s never going to happen.

Find 38 other foreign idioms here. Scroll down to Japanese to see how much they don’t like cats!


‘Iktsuarpok’ (Inuit)
Translation: The feeling of anticipation of waiting for someone.

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‘Goya’ (Urdu)
Translation: The transporting suspension of disbelief that can occur in good storytelling.

Find 10 more with pretty pictures to match here.


Here are a few that my wonderful Serbian friend shared with me (thanks Gorana!):

‘Mačiji kašalj’ (Serbian)
Translation: Cat’s cough.
i.e. When something looks like it will be very difficult and it turns out to be easy.

‘Rođen u čamcu’ (Serbian)
Translation: Born on a boat.
i.e. A person who leaves doors open where ever they go.

‘Hoćeš i muzičku želju?’ (Serbian)
Translation: Do you also want a music wish?
i.e. When someone is being spoilt and demanding.

‘Mlad kao rosa u podne’ (Serbian)
Translation: Young as dew at noon.
i.e. Not very young.

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