Our favourite idioms from across Europe

Today, September 26th, marks the European Day of Languages, organised by the Council of Europe to celebrate the abundant linguistic and cultural diversity of languages on the continent, as well as encouraging lifelong language learning in and out of school.

According to the European Day of Languages website, there are over 200 European languages and many more spoken by citizens whose family origin is from other continents, so the tapestry of languages that covers the continent is incredibly rich. And with 800 million Europeans represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, that’s a lot of people speaking a range of different languages – especially when the fact that about half of the world’s population are bilingual or plurilingual is taken into consideration!

To celebrate all of this, as well as the many languages taught and spoken at International House schools, we have compiled a list of our favourite idioms and expressions from across Europe.

Polish: "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy"

Literal translation: Not my circus, not my monkeys

Meaning: It’s not my problem

English: "A blessing in disguise"

Meaning: Something good that seemed bad at first

Italian: "Non vedo l’ora"

Literal translation: Can’t see the time

Meaning: I can’t wait (due to being excited)

German: "Das Leben ist kein Wunschkonzert"

Literal translation: Life is not a musical request programme

Meaning: You can’t always get what you want

French: "Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe"

Literal translation: To arrive like the hair in a soup

Meaning: Entering a situation at the most awkward moment

Spanish: "Costar un ojo de la cara"

Literal translation: To cost an eye of the face

Meaning: Something is very precious

Portuguese: "Queimar as pestanas"

Literal translation: Burn the eyelashes

Meaning: To read a lot

Dutch: "Met zijn neus in de boter vallen"

Literal translation: To fall with your nose in butter

Meaning: To be at the right place at the right time

If you're interested in learning a new language, or want to improve your proficiency in one you already know, you can do this with our International House language schools. You might be able to find one of our schools local to where you live, or if you fancy the adventure of studying abroad, we have many destination options for that too. Check out the links to find a school!