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15+ Incredible Croatian Idioms To Enhance Your Croatian Vocabulary

Idioms are the beating heart of any language. All languages have their own phrases that would be nonsense if the words that make them up were taken at face value, but that makes sense when taken as a whole, and Croatian idioms are no exception.

Croatian idioms and expressions are a gorgeous way to introduce yourself to the Croatian language, and by learning a handful and using them when you visit, you are certain to impress your new friends.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at some of Croatia’s most amusing idioms.

Boli Me Kurac – My Penis Hurts

This intriguing idiom is used when someone wants to convey how little they care about something. The thinking behind the saying is that the person is experiencing no emotional feeling about a situation at all.

Muda Labudova – Swan’s Balls

Uttering the phrase “swan’s balls” implies that you think something is impossible. Perhaps it derives from the fact that swans don’t, in fact, possess external testicles.

Doće Maca Na Vratanca – The Cat Will Turn Up At The Tiny Door

This rather strange Croatian idiom is similar to the English phrase “what goes around comes around.” As with many idioms, the true meaning is probably lost in translation, as what a cat coming to a small door has to do with karma is not immediately clear.

While We Are Talking About The Wolf, The Wolf Is On The Doorstep

Mi O Vuku, A Vuk Na Vrata – While We Are Talking About The Wolf, The Wolf Is On The Doorstep

The equivalent in English would be “speak of the devil” and it is commonly muttered when the person who is being discussed turns up out of the blue.

Bacati Kajmak U Oči – Throwing Cream Into Your Eyes

This idiom is to do with dishonesty and is used when someone is said to be lying to another person. Much like having the wool pulled over your eyes, having cream thrown into them blinds you from seeing the truth.

You Sing Like An Elephant Farted In Your Ear

Pjevaš Kao Da Ti Je Slon Prdnuo U Uho – You Sing Like An Elephant Farted In Your Ear

Up there with the more amusing Croatian idioms is this funny saying used to describe someone with little or no singing ability. More broadly, it describes a person with no musical aptitude.

Tko Vino Večera, Vodu Doručkuje – Who Dines On Wine Will Have Water For Breakfast

This charming idiom conveys the idea that you have to pay for whatever you did the night before, especially if a bit of drinking was involved.

Stara Koka, Dobra Juha – Old Hen, Good Soup

Used to convey the charms of an older woman by suggesting that with age comes appeal.

Da Padne Na Leđa, Razbio Bi Nos – If He Fell On His Back He Would Break His Nose

A more self-explanatory idiom is used to refer to a person who, no matter what they do, will always be unlucky.

Ne Trči Pred Rudo – Don’t Run In Front Of The Carriage

Loosely translated as the English idiom “don’t jump the gun.” Used to tell people not to be too hasty.

Tko Prvi, Njegova Djevojka – Those Who Come First Get The Girl

A lovely way of saying “first come, first served.” The one who gets there first will win the prize.

Bez Muke Nema Nauke – Without The Hardship There Can Be No Knowledge

Translated into English, this idiom has a similar context to “no pain, no gain.” Without a bit of sacrifice, there is no way you can learn the lesson.

Žuri Polako – Hurry Slowly

Although at first glance, this idiom makes no sense, it is a phrase that is similar to the English phrase “more speed, less haste.” It is used to tell people to take their time otherwise, they will make mistakes that could otherwise have been avoided.

Čovjek Snuje, Bod Određuje – Man Devises, God Determines

Much like “the best-laid plans of mice and men”, the idiom means that however hard you prepare for something, things could still go horribly wrong.

Kititi Se Tuđim Perjem – Dress Yourself In Borrowed Feathers

The phrase describes someone who rather dishonestly takes credit for someone else’s hard work.

Ispeći Pa Reći – Bake It, Then Say It

An idiom that is pretty much the same as “think before you speak.” It is used to suggest that one makes sure that they have considered what they are about to say before they open their mouth.

Bogu Iza Nogu – Behind God’s Legs

And finally, a strange idiom that means you are in the middle of nowhere.

More Recognisable Croatian Idioms

As well as idioms that are uniquely Croatian, there are sayings that English speakers will recognize, although the Croatian idioms and phrases have their own twist.

In English, we might refer to something we find remarkably easy as a piece of cake. However, something that takes little effort in Croatia is referred to as mačji kašalja cat’s cough. Where in English, we might tell somebody who is taking something out of proportion as making a mountain out of a molehill, in Croatia, they would say to that person od muhe radiš slona – you are making an elephant out of a fly.

In the Croatian language, it is not the bull in the china shop that is causing havoc, but slon u staklarni – the elephant in a glass house. If you find yourself in a bit of trouble when visiting Croatia, you might not find yourself in a pickle, the equivalent would be to find yourself in a banana.

And finally, when you are referring to something practically impossible, rather than say that it might happen when pigs fly you would say kad na vrbi rodi grožđe – when the willow bears grapes.

Come Learn More Croatian With Ling App

If this dive into the strange world of Croatian idioms has made you hungry to learn more, why not download the Ling Language App to your mobile device? Having the Ling App always to hand means you can learn more Croatian at your own pace. The Ling App is available today for download at App Store and Google Play.

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