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Expressions, Tips

Are You Barking Up The Wrong Tree? 10 English Idioms Explained

Ever wondered what the English are actually on about? Why it’s tipping it down, or raining cats and dogs? Then this article is for you! Keep reading to find out the meanings of 10 English idiomatic expressions.

 

  1. Too many cooks spoil the broth

This is more of a traditional English idiom, which basically means that if too many people get involved in something, it can cause problems and ruin the expected outcome.

For instance: if there are 20 people putting up a marquee and they all have different ideas about how to put it up, the likelihood is they will struggle working as a team and it will take ages to put up the marquee, or the marquee might get broken.

 

  1. Tipping it down

As you all probably know, us Brits are obsessed with the weather, if we are not sure what to talk about, we talk about the weather. If we are fed up about the weather, we talk about it. If we are pleased about the weather, we talk about it.

We are obsessed. Tipping it down, refers to rain, so when it is raining really heavily, you can say, it’s tipping it down.

 

  1. It’s raining cats and dogs

Another reference to the weather, if the rain is really bad or awfully heavy, you can say it’s raining cats and dogs.

  1. Pull yourself together

Come on, get up and deal with it, calm down you can do this! This means you should organise yourself, calm down and get control of your emotions and deal with the situation at hand. Pull yourself together, you can do this!

 

  1. Barking up the wrong tree

No, it’s not about dogs. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think it’s about dogs! Barking up the wrong tree basically means you’re wrong. I suppose it’s just a nicer way of putting it, as we are known to be polite it England. So if someone has misunderstood what you’ve said or is wrong about something you can tell them that they’re barking up the wrong tree.

  1. Adding insult to injury

Adding insult to injury, means making something worse. Think of an injury, pretend you’ve insulted that injury and because of that it’s gotten worse… Does it help, no I didn’t think so… Never mind! In England this expression is used subtly, so if you are taking to a friend about someone else, maybe they are upset and you want to try to make them feel better, if your way of making them feel better will just make things worse for them your friend might say to you, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll only add insult to injury.’

 

  1. Call it a day

No need to phone anyone! Call it a day means, to stop or finish something. Imagine you’ve been working solidly on a piece of work all day and you are very tired, so your work is getting progressively worse because you’re tired. If this happens a friend might suggest that it’s time to call it a day, and carry on with your work tomorrow when you feel fresher.

 

  1. Under the weather

Another weather reference! But when you’re under the weather, you’re ill. Say you’re at work and you look quite pale and tired, someone might say that you look under the weather. It’s a more sublet and polite way of saying you look ill or unwell.

 

  1. We’ll cross at bridge when we come to it

Imagine you are really worried about something happening, but the likelihood of it happening is next to none (impossible), someone might say to you, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,’ this is quite nice, it shows the person cares about you!

 

  1. Speak of the devil

You’re sat chatting with your friends about your new boss. Your new boss walks past and one of your friends says: ‘Speak of the devil.’ Speak of the devil is used when you see a person you’ve been talking about. Beware, if you use it and they hear it, the person generally wants to know hats been said about them! Though it can be used more discreetly, when the person you’ve been talking about walks past but doesn’t enter the conversation.

 

In conclusion: the English don’t speak English, with a million different accents, dialects and forms of slang, English is certainly not easy to decipher!

Dialects, Expressions

6 Words in German You Need To Know When You Visit Austria

 

Author’s Note: This post was originally written during my time in Austria as an exchange student. I’ve left in the introduction in order for you to better understand my mindset as an exchange student.

I can’t really believe it, but I’ve spent half a year in this amazing country. The time’s flown, but somehow, part of me feels like I’ll be here forever. The fact that I’ll be in Wisconsin in four months…at college in six? That can’t be real…can it?
Ok, enough with the existential crisis. To celebrate my six months here, I thought I’d share my favorite words in the Austrian-German lexicon. Some of these are dialect words, while others are used in standard High German, but to me, they represent Austria.

1. Genau

Pronounced like “ge” in “get” and “now”

Genau is used as a general form of agreement, but I can say it’s used for everything. It’s also my favorite word in German. Basically, if The Fault in Our Stars was set in Austria, I would bet a significant sum that Hazel and Augustus would have “genau” be their always. (Genau? Genau).

2. Achso/Also/Ahso

Pronounced as it’s written

This is a filler word, similar to the English “oh” or “well”. It’s used in two contexts: To begin a speech, “Ahso, heute rede ich von…” (Ok, today I’m speaking about..); or to express understanding/astonishment, “Das Kinoticket kostet $5. Achso, ich dachte, dass es war nur 4″. (The movie ticket costs $5. Achso, I thought it was only 4).

3. Ur

Pronounced as “oohr”

Ur is an intensifier, a bit like the English “so”, or “really”. For example, it’s quite common to hear “Dass ist ur cool”, which translates to “That’s really/so cool”.


4. Oida

Pronounced Oy-da

Oida is probably THE Viennese dialect word, at least as of now. It’s extremely versatile, and can be used in any situation, to express any emotion. Annoyed? Oida. Happy? Oida :0) Surprised? Oida!

5. Scheiße

I believe everyone knows the pronunciation and definition of this word, but if you don’t, here’s a hint on the meaning: Shit. Unlike the English, it’s not really an offensive word, more similar to “crap”. For example, saying it in school, in front of a teacher, elicits no reaction. Considering the sheer amount of times I’ve heard and used it, it really had to be included on this list.

6. Oachkazlschwoaf

Ok, I’m not even going to try and write this one out… Just try and pronounce it, if you dare. It means “squirrel’s tail” in the Lower Austrian dialect, and is generally used to tease foreigners for their accents. Also incredibly fun to say.


Well, that sums up my mini-dictionary of entertaining Austrian words. If you’d like to read a more in-depth post on the Austrian dialects, let me know, as I truly enjoy talking about it.

Expressions

The 10 Most Relatable Dutch Expressions, And How To Use Them

1. Bakje troost (Little Cup of Comfort)

Because we all know we need that first cup of coffee in the morning to get us through the day, we don’t just say a cup of coffee, we call it a “little cup of comfort”.

“Doe mij maar een bakkie troost”

 

2. Kiplekker (Chickenyummy)

Do you ever wake up and just feel great? Us Dutch people don’t feel great, we feel “Lekker” (‘Yummy’ or “Delicious”), but when we feel really really good, we feel “kiplekker”, which translates to “chickendelicious” or “chickenyummy”.

“Ik voel me kiplekker vandaag”

 

If you want to know more about how to use the word “lekker”
click here check out “The Infinity of Lekker”

 

3. Ver-van-mijn-bed-show (Far-from-my-bed-show)

When something happens far from your world (literally of figuratively) we call it a “far-from-my-bed-show” or to put it differently,  a show that happens far away from your bed, outside of your little bubble.

4. Slok op een borrel (A gulp on a shot)

“Slok op een borrel” basically means it makes a lot of difference (often when talking about smaller things). The logic is probably that a gulp is not that much, but when it´s a gulp on a shot it is pretty much all there is, so a little gulp can still make a big difference.

Like when you get a big discount on something (and we all know how Dutch people like to be thrifty).

It is not only used for prices of things though, and can be loosely translated as just making a big difference.

“80% korting? Dat scheelt een slok op een borrel”

5. Maak dat de kat wijs (Make that the cat wise/ Try to make the cat believe it)

This is one of the most classic untranslatable expressions in Dutch. So much so that there is now a Facebook page with this name that posts funny literal Dutch translations.

The expression is used when people tell you something that isn’t very credible. The verb “wijsmaken” is to make someone believe something, so when someone tells you something ludicrous you tell them you aren’t believing any of it, and they can go to the cat and make them believe it.

“Heb jij ‘s morgens geen bakkie troost nodig? Maak dat de kat wijs!” 

 

6. Restanten van een losbandig leven (Remains of a loose life)

This one is not used that often but it is one of my personal favorites. “Resten van een losbandig leven” (remains of a licentious or wild life), like when you wake up the morning after your house party and see all the empty booze bottles laying on the floor.

But of course, as this is still a Dutch expression, it is mostly used ironically, so when you enter someone’s room and see empty cups of coffee because they have been working 24/7, you could comment on the remains of their wild and licentious life.

“Waarom liggen er allemaal lege Ben & Jerry verpakkingen op de vloer?”

“Sorry, dat zijn de resten van een losbandig leven” 

Restanten van een losbandig leven

 

7. Gebed zonder end (An endless prayer)

When something is expected to be a lot of trouble and work, we call it an “endless prayer”. It is often said when something is not even worth trying, or when something just doesn’t seem to have an end.

“President You-Know-Who is ook een gebed zonder end”

 

 

8. Mierenneuker (Ant fucker)

A nitpicker. People who make an elephant out of a mosquito (van een mug een olifant maken, translation: to make a mountain out of a molehill) will be referred to as a “Mierenneukers” or “Ant fuckers”, because they seem to care deeply about small things (which I guess means that is why they would want to have sexual intercourse with insects).

It can also be used as a verb (Mierenneuken).

“Je gaat nu toch niet lopen mierenneuken?”

 

9. Voor hetere vuren hebben gestaan (To have faced hotter fires)

Many Dutch expressions are meant to put your situation into perspective. This one is a classic example of that.

When you tell people you have faced hotter fires that means that you have coped with worse situations. I think this expression goes to the core of our Dutch Calvinistic spirit, which is “things may be bad, but they would always be worse”.

“Moet ik je even helpen?”
“Nee joh, ik heb wel voor hetere vuren gestaan.” 

 

10. Apenstaartje (Little Monkey Tail – @)

And last but not least, because of self-explanatory reasons we call the @ sign a ‘monkey’s tail´.

What has been seen can never be unseen.

Expressions

The Infinity of “Lekker”

For anyone who has spent a certain amount of time in the Netherlands or around Dutch people this won`t be the first time you have heard of the concept of `lekker´. Yet the translation of this word has always been a bit of a problem. Literally it means `tasty` and originally it was used in the context of food. However, the Dutch thought ¨Why should it have only one meaning, when it can mean so much more?¨.

And that is how the infinite universe of the ´L´ word  was founded, or at least that is what they say. Nowadays you shouldn`t be surprised to hear things like  ¨…lekker fietsen…¨ (tasty cycling) or ¨…lekker weertje¨ (tasty weather). In this context the word  can roughly be translated to `nice` or `agradable`. Something pleasant.

You can extend this meaning to basically any verb, even eating. When a Dutch person says ¨Lekker uit eten¨ (Tasty out for dinner) they are actually not referring to the food being tasty, but more the action of going out for dinner being something nice. `Lekker slapen´ (to sleep tastefully) or `Slaap lekker´ (Sleep tasty = sleep well) might be the most famous examples of the combination `Lekker + verb`.

`Lekker` can also be used when referring to people, which basically means someone is hot. ¨Meisje, je ziet er lekker uit¨ (Girl, you look tasty). (Warning: the use of this sentence or the use of lekker when referring to people is at own risk as it would be completely justified for a girl to punch you in the face after you have said this to her).

When among friends it`s safe to talk about someone else being hot and refer to that person as a tasty thing (´lekkerding´)

Lekker can also add a sarcastic tone to what you are saying. ¨Lekker belangrijk¨ (tasty important or nicely important?) is basically the Dutch way of saying ¨Nobody cares¨.

“Nobody Cares” in Dutch

When you want someone to go away you could say something like ¨Ga toch lekker ….¨ (Just go and tastefully  (insert verb) ) which is a way of saying ¨fuck off¨.
The phrase ´Lekker is dat´ (tasty is that) falls into this category aswell, which is  basically the sarcastic cousin of the phrase ¨Oh that´s nice!¨

¨I finally decided to waste 20 euros on an umbrella and then it stopped raining!¨ 
¨Lekker is dat¨ 

If someone is messing something up and you want to say something really Dutch, tell them they are ¨lekker bezig¨ (tastefully busy), yet another form of being `tastefully busy` can be used in a work environement when people (like for example your boss) ask you how things are going ¨Ja, lekker. Lekker druk.¨

What I probably like most about the word ´lekker´ is how much it reflects upon the Dutch culture. Dutch are very humble when it comes to expressing something nice. ´Lekker´ is not super-awesomely epic. It´s not the most euphoric feeling in the world, but it is good, it´s nice and most of all, it´s enough and many times it expresses the exact feeling you have without having to exaggerate it to make people believe you actually had a nice experience.

What funny uses of the word ´lekker´ have you foud? Leave a comment! 

 

Other examples of uses the word ´lekker´

“Landing tastily” at Schiphol Airport

 

 

Just do ´tastefully sustainable´ and everything will be alright

 

 

You have to tastefully continue like this (you have to keep going like this way)

 

Beautiful story, tastefully short (nice that it´s short)

 

 

“I am not sitting tasty in my skin” means I am not feeling well

English, Expressions

12 British Expressions Everyone Should Know

Just because Brits, Americans and Australians speak the same language, it doesn’t always mean that we can understand each other! Each country has its own unique brand of slang and colloquial expression that becomes part of the common vernacular, so if you want to talk like a true Brit, then pay attention to our list of the ten best British expressions that you need to know!

1. Gobsmacked

Although this sounds like it was taken straight from a Harry Potter book, don’t worry, this isn’t an expression relating to physical violence. Being gobsmacked means being totally surprised or completely lost for words.

2. Collywobbles

The term collywobbles in Britain refers to the feeling of nervousness or fear that you might experience in the midst of a scary or tense situation. Another common way to express the same feeling is “I have butterflies”.

3. Donkey’s Years

If you have known somebody for ‘donkey’s years’, it means that you have known them for a very, very long time. The term refers to an unspecified period of time, but it always refers to a long period.



4. The Full Monty

This term has been confusing for overseas minds ever since the famous stripping film of the 1990s, but what the ‘full monty’ actually means is doing anything ‘the whole way’. Of course, this makes sense in terms of the film’s premise, but it can be applied to almost everything, for example, eating a typical English fry-up breakfast can be described as the full monty.

5. Her Majesty’s Pleasure

If somebody is living at ‘Her Majesty’s pleasure’, then it means that they are currently being incarcerated in a government run prison. It stemmed as a polite way to talk about it, but is now used as more of a sarcastic, satirical way to mention somebody in jail.

6. Legless

If somebody is described as being ‘legless’, it means that they have become so heavily drunk that they are no longer able to stand up on their own two feet.

7. Knees Up

One of the most classic of British expressions, to have a proper ‘knees up’ means to throw a major party complete with lots of drink and lots of dancing. It stems from a traditional Cockney song called Knees Up Mother Brown.

8. Minted

To be minted means to be very rich and not have to worry about your financial situation whatsoever.

9. On The Pull

If somebody is described as being ‘on the pull’, it means that they are out actively trying to bag themselves a romantic partner for the evening.



10. See A Man About A Dog

One of the funniest British expressions, telling somebody you need to go and see a man about a dog is the universal symbol of saying something because you are no longer interested in the conversation!

11. Lost the plot

Describing that someone has “lost the plot” means they are/have been acting ridiculously or irrationally.

12. The Bee’s Knees

This is a very cute way of describing something that is really good. It can refer to a person, an occasion or an inanimate object – well anything really. 

So, now that you have armed yourself with these fun and quintessentially British phrases, there is nothing to stop you from walking into the nearest pub and chatting it up a storm with a group of natives!