Mountains and molehills

Making a mountain out of a molehill

I discovered yesterday that the French word for mole is taupe /top/, and I wondered if this might be related to the English word taupe, which, according to the OED, means ‘A brownish shade of grey resembling the colour of moleskin’ or in others words, mole-coloured.

The English word taupe comes from the French, which comes from the Latin talpa (mole), which is of unknown origin, according to Wiktionnary.

Mole-related words and expressions in French include:

– taupinière = molehill
– taupier = mole catcher
– être myope comme une taupe = to be blind as a bat
– noir comme une taupe = pitch-black

The French equivalent of to make a mountain out of a molehill is se faire une montagne d’un rien or faire une montagne d’une taupinière. What is the equivalent of this phrase in other languages?

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Mountains and molehills

  1. Louis says:

    The German equivalent is “to make an elephant out of a mosquito (aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen).”

  2. Lena says:

    In Russian, like in German, you “make an elephant out of a fly” (“делать из мухи слона”).

  3. Lev says:

    In Russian it’s almost the same: “to make an elephant out of a fly.”

  4. Rauli says:

    In Finnish, you “make a little ox out of a fly” (tehdä kärpäsestä härkänen). The diminutive “härkänen” of härkä ‘ox’ is only used in this phrase. I suppose it’s just to have a word that sounds similar to kärpänen ‘fly’.

  5. Yenlit says:

    Welsh has “gwneud mynydd o gocyn twrch daear” for exactly the same as the English ‘make a mountain out of a mole-hill’ but it also has some variations:

    gwneud môr a mynydd o rywbeth (make a sea and mountain out of something)
    gwneud melin a phandy o rywbeth (make a mill and fulling house out of something)
    gwneud tŵr melin ac eglwys o rywbeth (make a mill tower and church out of something)
    gwneud mynydd o dwmpath morgrug (make a mountain (out) of an ant-hill)

    Welsh for ‘mole’ is
    (South) gwadd, gwadden, gwahadden
    (North) twrch daear (“earth pig”) or just ‘twrch’.

    Mole-hill is either:
    pridd y wadd, priddwal, twmpath gwadd, cocyn twrch daear, tocyn twrch daear

    Other ‘mole’ phrases in Welsh include:

    cysgu fel gwadd – sleep like a log, sleep like a baby (“sleep like a mole”)
    cysgu fel twrch
    mynd i wlad y gwaddod – die, kick the bucket (“go to the land of the moles”)
    bod mor ddall â’r wadd – be as blind as a bat (“be as blind as the mole”)
    bod mor ddall â thwrch daear

  6. Danyal Najmi says:

    In Egyptian Arabic you make a dome out of a bump (or grain).
    بتعمل من الحبة قبة
    bta’mel min el-7ebba ‘ubba