Humorous & Handy Hungarian Idioms

  • 22 Feb 2018 10:50 AM
Humorous & Handy Hungarian Idioms
Looking at the idioms of various nationalities, we can often spot some intriguing similarities in logic but rather funny alterations in content. Below is a glimpse at some Hungarian idioms, and how humorous some might seem to expats when translated into English.

1. While you might say “Cool!”
Hungarians say “Zsir!” or “Király!”, meaning “Fat!” or “King!”.

2. While you might say “It’s not as good as you think.”
Hungarians say, “Nem kolbászból van a kerítés”, meaning “The fence is not made from sausage”.

3. While you might say “It’s all Greek to me.”
Hungarians say, “Ez nekem kínai”, meaning “It’s Chinese for me”.

4. While you might say “Yeah right, and pigs fly!”
Hungarians say “Majd ha piros hó esik!” meaning, "When red snow falls!"

5. While you might say “A leopard can't change its spots”
Hungarians say, “Kutyaból nem lesz szalonna”, meaning, “You can’t make bacon out of a dog”.

6. While you might call something “useless”
Hungarians say, “Kevés vagy, mint mackósajtban a brummogás”, meaning, “You’re as little as the roaring in a Mackó cheese (which is a type of cheese that has a small bear on the label).

7. While you might say someone is “naïve”
Hungarians say, “Kenyérre lehet kenni”, meaning, “You can spread them on bread”.

8. While you might say “Far, far away”
Hungarians say, “Az Isten háta mögött”, meaning “Behind God’s back”.

9. While you might say “She’s jumping for joy!”
Hungarians say, “Örül, mint majom a farkána.”, meaning, “She’s as happy as a monkey about his tail”.

10. While you might ask children “Why are you crying?”
Hungarians ask, “Miért itatod az egereket?”, meaning, “Why are you giving drinks to the mice?”.

11. While you might shout “You’re blocking my view!”
Hungarians shout “Apád nem volt üveges!”, meaning “Your dad wasn’t a glassmaker!” As in, you’re not transparent, so get out of the way.

12. While you might say “It’s not worth the effort”
Hungarians say, “Annyit ér, mint halottnak a csók”, meaning, “It’s worth as much as a kiss to a dead person”.

I am convinced that there are lots of other great Hungarian idioms out there but the presented twelve are quite commonly used. So the ball is in your court, feel free to use them the next time you end up in a Hungarian pub but perhaps try remembering what they actually mean, we don’t want to offend anyone after all.

Words by Daniel Csaki for

  • How does this content make you feel?