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It’s All Greek to Me: 7 Great Greek Idioms

People often say 'it's all Greek to me' when they don't understand something. However, if you're learning Greek you might just have to find a new phrase. Luckily, in Greek you can say Εἶναι γιὰ μένα κινέζικα (Íne gia ména kinézika), which means 'it's Chinese to me'. If you speak Chinese too, there's always Εἶναι ἀλαμπουρνέζικα (Íne alabournézika), meaning 'it's Arabic'. Here are some more Greek idioms to help you on your journey to learning the language:


1. κάνει τη πάπια (káni ti pápia)

Animal idioms are some of my favourites, but I'm not sure I can make sense of this one. Literally translating 'to do the duck', it means to keep quiet or not mention something in order to avoid being blamed for it. Perhaps Greek ducks are notoriously secretive and/or naughty animals.

2. βγήκα απ'τα ρούχα μου (vyíka ap'ta roúkha mou)

'I was enraged, livid, hopping mad', or as the Greeks say, 'I came out of my clothes'. Picture someone getting so angry that they turn red and shoot right out of their clothing, in a cartoonish sort of way.

3. βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα (vrékhi kareklopódara)

Every language needs at least one idiom for when it's raining hard. We probably have a few too many ways to talk about the rain in English, but 'it's raining chair-legs' isn't one of them. This is, however, the Greek equivalent of 'it's raining cats and dogs'.

4.  είμαι ανοιχτό βιβλίο (ímai anikhtó vivlío)

In English, to be an open book is to be a person who has no secrets and is easily readable. In Greek you can also say 'I am an open book', but it's closer to the similar expression 'to wear your heart on your sleeve'. Someone who's an open book in Greece is open about their feelings and emotions.

5. μαύρη μέρα κι άραχνη (mávri méra ki árakhni)

Have you had a terrible day? Greek has just the right expression for you. This phrase translates as 'black day and spidery', to mean a dark and gloomy day, or to have a bad day.

6. δεν ξέρω την τύφλα μου (den xéro tin típhla mou)

If you're not feeling very confident in your Greek abilities, you can use this phrase. It literally translates as 'I don't know my blindness' and is used to express that you're clueless or don't know anything. Try not to be so hard on yourself though!

7. μου έφαγες τα αυτιά (mou éphayes ta aftiá)

This phrase is perhaps a bit of strange one. It literally means 'you ate my ears', but is used to say that someone is too loud or talking too much, or that they're being too pushy about something.

If these Greek idioms have you wanting more, you can take the Greek level test to see how much you already know. Do you have any great Greek idioms we've missed out? Let us know below!