1,848-meter long Hungarian national flag in Budapest
Photo: copyright: Istvan Ruzsa / SKYPHOTOGRAPHY – Hungarian freelance photographer

There are many proverbs and sayings used by Hungarian people, but if translated into English, they are hilarious. These sayings are either not in English or Englishmen say them entirely differently. 

  1. You are as little as the roaring in a Teddy cheese – Kevés vagy, mint mackósajtban a brummogás)
    Teddy cheese needs some explanation. There is a Hungarian cheese with a small bear on its label. The English-Saxon term “useless” is the equivalent of this Hungarian saying.
  2. Why are you giving drinks to the mice?– Miért itatod az egereket?
    English people simply ask “Why are you crying?”
  3. She/he is as happy as a monkey about his tail– Örül, mint majom a farkának.
    This may seem rather strange. In English, they say “she/he is jumping for joy”.
  4. It is worth as much as a kiss to a dead person– Annyit ér mint halottnak a csók
    The English phrase for this is “It’s not worth the effort.”
  5.  Behind the back of God– Az Isten háta mögött
    The English put it more simply, saying “Far, far away”.
  6.  You can not make bacon out of a dog– Kutyából nem lesz szalonna
    The English saying for this situation is “Once a thief, always a thief”, means people do not change.
  7. Fat! King!– Zsír! Király!
    As strange as it may be, it means something good. In the English language, the world cool can be matched.
  8. Your dad was not a glassmaker! – Apád nem volt üveges!
    This sounds in English like “Hey, you’re blocking my view!” or “Hey, I can’t see from you!
  9.  You can spread him/her on bread – Kenyérre lehet kenni.
    In English, there is no proverb for this; it means that someone is naive.
  10. Only when red snow falls! – Majd ha piros hó esik!
    Hungarians use this phrase for impossible situations. For English people its sounds like “When pigs fly”.
  11. The fence is not made of sausage – Nem kolbászból van a kerítés
    This English proverb could replace this best: “It’s not as good as you think”.
  12. This is Chinese to me! – Ez nekem kínai!
    We use this when we do not understand something. It’s English equivalent is “It’s all Greek to me!”.
  13. She is a bomb woman – Ő egy bombanő
    If you use this, a girl could easily run away. In the US, they express it differently, by using scores, for example, “That chick is a 10”.
  14. Old goat also licks the salt – Vén kecske is megnyalja a sót
    In Hungarian, the old goat is an expression for elderly men. The saying is about that older people are into romance as well.
  15.  Many geese defeat a pig –  Sok lúd disznót győz
    It is a proverb that can encourage the less strong or the opposite: to warn someone stronger. This is about the importance of teamwork.
  16. Shouts like a worm stuck inside a tree – Ordít, mint a fába szorult féreg
    We use this proverb when someone is shouting or screaming very loudly.
  17. The horse ran away with him – Elszaladt vele a ló
    This Hungarian proverb is for when someone trusts himself a bit too much and his success goes to his head.
  18. This is where the dog is buried – Itt van a kutya elásva
    It simply refers to the truth which lies where the dog is buried.
  19. A blind hen can also find wheat grains – Vak tyúk is talál (búza)szemet
    This means that everyone can be lucky.
  20. If there is no horse, the donkey is good enough – Ha ló nincs, jó a szamár is
    We say this when we need to get by with less and be satisfied.

1 comment
  1. Nice article! I just found a small mistake:
    “Many geese defeat a pig – Sok lúd disznőt győz”
    It’s not spelled correctly, it should be “disznót” and not “disznöt” 🙂
    Greetings!

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