Treading in Spinach

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A few posts ago I wrote about an interesting Swedish idiom – trampa i klaveret – to make a social mistake, put one’s foot in it, or literally “to step heavily on the accordion”.

Today I learnt the Danish equivalenttræde i spinaten (“to tread in the spinach”). For example, jeg har virkelig trådt i spinaten (“I have really trod in the spinach”) = I really put my foot in it.

Accoriding to Den Danske Ordbog, træde i spinaten means “utilsigtet sige eller gøre noget dumt” (to accidentally say or do something stupid).

Another version is træde/trampe i spinatbedet (“tread/tramp in the spinach bed”) [source].

Then there’s the spinatfugl or “spinach bird”, which is apparently a person who writes reviews or other cultural material in a newspaper without a journalistic background [source].

Does anybody know why such a person is known as a spinach bird?

The word spinach comes from the Middle English spinach, from Anglo-Norman spinache, from the Old French espinoche, from the Old Occitan espinarc, from the Arabic إِسْفَانَاخ‎ (ʾisfānāḵ), from the Persian اسپناخ‎ (ispanâx).

Apparently spinach cinema refers to “Movies that are not very exciting or interesting, but that one feels one must see because they are educational or otherwise uplifting.” [source]

Are there any interesting spinach or other vegetable-related idioms in other languages?

One thought on “Treading in Spinach

  1. I must admit, I have never in my life heard the word “spinatfugl”, but apparently it was used more frequently in the generation before mine.

    I looked into the origin, and it looks like the “spinach”-part refers to the lacking quality of the material written by such a person, since spinach itself shrinks an incredible lot when boiled, steamed, fried, et cetera. The material written by a “spinatfugl” can be said to be ‘boiled down’ pretty easily to a watery and boring substance.

    As for the “fugl”-part, birds are used in a couple of Danish idioms as metaphors for people.

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