Differences in figurative language

While many sayings, idioms, familiar expressions, etc. are similar in many languages, they often vary from one country to another. These differences can add some spice to both learning and translating and tell us about other ways of thinking or looking at things.

Here are some examples:

  1. English

  2. Spanish way of putting it – not to be learned as English!

  3. To be as chirpy as a cricket,to be as happy as a lark

  4. To be as cheerful as castanets

  5. To have one’s heart in one’s boots/in one’s mouth

  6. To have one’s soul on a string,to have one’s heart in a fist

  7. To spend a penny (to go to the toilet)

  8. To make a phone call

  9. To keep the pot boiling,to earn one’s bread and butter

  10. To earn one’s stew

  11. It’s blowing great guns

  12. The wind pulls off chimneys

  13. To be as sharp as a needle

  14. To be as sharp as hunger

  15. A marriage over the broomstick

  16. A marriage behing the church

  17. She wears her heart on her sleeve

  18. She wears her heart in her hand

  19. He’s not dry behing the ears yet

  20. He’s got milk on his lips

  21. Rotten to the core

  22. Rotten to the marrow

  23. Soaked to the skin

  24. Soaked to the bones

  25. Sound as a bell, as fit as a fiddle

  26. As healthy as an apple

  27. They are as thick as thieves,they are hand in glove

  28. They are like nail and flesh

  29. To be a butterfingers

  30. To have cloth hands

  31. To be blind as a beetle

  32. Not to see three (people) on a donkey

  33. To be bored stiff/bored to tears

  34. To be as bored as an oyster

  35. To be three sheets in the wind

  36. To be as drunk as a barrel

For window-shopping, the French say ‘window-licking’.

If you have any contribution or comment, go ahead!

Isn’t it fun to look at life from other perspectives?:

Spanish: It’s all Chinese to me.
Chinese: ?*
French: It’s all Hebrew to me.
Hebrew: ?*

Spanish: She gave him pumpkins.
French: She sent him to take a walk.

*Hopefully someone can enlighten us?

Does anyone have any other suggestions?