Idiom of the day

In English when you give up on something or admit that you’re defeated, you might say that you’re throwing in the towel or the sponge, a phrase that comes from boxing. In Welsh you put the fiddle on the roof: rhoi’r ffidil ar y tô. I like the image this conjures up.

Other Welsh idioms I like include siarad fel melin bupur = to talk like a pepper mill, i.e. to talk non-stop, mae hi’n bwrw cyllyll a ffyrc = it’s raining knives and forks, i.e. it’s raining heavily, and mae’r olwyn wedi troi = the wheel has turned, i.e. times have changed.

This entry was posted in Idioms, Language, Welsh.

9 Responses to Idiom of the day

  1. Anders says:

    Two Danish idioms are:

    Det regner skomagerdrenge (it’s raining shoemaker’s apprentices)

    Stedet hvor selv dronningen går alene (the place where even the queen goes alone, i.e. the bathroom)

  2. TJ says:

    well … sometimes these idioms are called proverbs as well in Arabic.
    One of these is (in direct translation into English): he came back with Hunayn’s sandals … (ended with empty hands)

    hehe this one has a long story about a man that wanted to trick someone but it got back at him! 🙂

  3. Josh says:

    I really like the one mae’r olwyn wedi troi one.

  4. Joseph Staleknight says:

    I know a couple of German ones:

    Man hat einen Vogel. > Somebody’s insane (has a bird).

    Andere Länder, andere Sitten > Different strokes for different folks (Other lands, other customs).

  5. My favourite Welsh idiom is ‘ti ‘di pishio ar dy jips’ or ‘mae e wedi pishio ar ei jips’ (‘you’ve pissed on your chips’ or ‘he’s pissed on his chips).

    Which basically means that someone has made a mess of things and won’t be forgiven very easily, usually used in reference to love, work etc. I like the way the English ‘ch’ in ‘chips’ has mutated to another English letter, ‘j’, although both letters aren’t (or weren’t until recently, native to Welsh).

    ‘Codi pais ar ol piso’ is another good one. ‘to lift (your) petty-coat after pissing’ i.e. acting on something when it’s too late.

  6. Daydreamer says:

    In German when stopping unsuccessful efforts you would “das Handtuch werfen” (exactly as in English to throw the towel) or even “die Flinte ins Korn werfen” (to throw one’s gun into the cornfield), which apparently doesn’t go back to a bankrobber, but to a hunter who was fed up with waiting in vain for game to shoot at.

  7. Rurality says:

    I recently read that American Sign Language had no idioms. (Or possibly ONE, “train-go-sorry”, depending on who you ask.)

    Are there any other languages with no idioms?

  8. Lowri says:

    I actually am welsh, and I’m very chuffed to find a post where the welsh words have been written correctly!
    I’ve seen many welsh idioms written totally wrong! If you want to know some more, or just want to ask about anything welsh, send me an e-mail at

  9. rhapsody says:

    i just came across ur site… searching for idioms… this is really great.. can’t wait for ur update..

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