Up to your ears?

When you’re very busy, you can say that you’re up to your ears with work, as I was last week with reports, presentations, an essay and lots of reading to do.

In English you can also say that you’re up to your eyes, eyeballs, elbows or neck, snowed under, drowning, swamped, rushed/run off your feet with/in work.

Are there equivalent phrases in other languages?

26 thoughts on “Up to your ears?

  1. Up to your ears in it, Idiom Cymraeg yndi?

    Welsh idiom isn’t it?

    Yn gweithio lan i’ch clustiau , that’s what we say down here

  2. (I am Syrian living in Saudi Arabia.)

    In Arabic, sometimes I say “He doesn’t have time to scratch his head.”

  3. In Spanish, we say:

    “Estoy inundado/a” – I’m flooded
    “Estoy hasta la coronilla” – I’m up to the crown of my head (someone mentioned this, although to me it means more along the lines of “I’m tired of this, I’m fed up etc.”)

  4. Hi,

    In Japanese, there is a construction:

    Isogashii ttara nai

    “I am too busy for words”

  5. John is right:

    Estar hasta la coronilla is to be fed up, not to have a lot of work.

    But the expression in Spanish is right the same:

    Estoy hasta el cuello (neck) de trabajo
    Estoy hasta las orejas (ears) de trabajo
    Estoy inundado is also correct!

  6. Mám toho po krk.
    HAVE(present, singular, 1st. person, imperfective) IT(neuter, genitive, singular) UP TO NECK(accusative, singular)

  7. There’s a great Scots expression “Up tae ma oxters in stour”, which I think literally translates as “I’m up to my armpits in muck”. I think it’s used mostly for physical mess but I’ve heard it used along the same lines as being up to your eyes/ears etc

  8. In Chile people say

    “toy (medio) colapsao de pega, po won”
    (in Spanish: estoy medio colapsado de pega, pues, huevón”

    Or “Tengo N pega, won, toy colapsao”

  9. prase: No, that means “I can’t take it any more”. “Mám toho až nad hlavu” is the corect phrase.

  10. In German, you have “bis zum Hals in Arbeit stecken”, literally “be stuck in work up to the neck”. “Bis zum Kinn”, “up to the chin”, is also heard. Then there’s “in Arbeit versinken”, “sink/drown in work”.

    Similar to Danish, we say “das hängt mir zum Hals ‘raus”, “it’s hanging out of my throat”. It means we are overwhelmed and fed up with something.

  11. In colloquial Tamil, one such expression would be: ‘mUccu viDaRadku kUDa nEram illai!’ –> ”..not even enough time to breathe!”.

    Another phrase containing the onomatopoeic ‘ekkacekka’ would be: ‘aiyO, ekkacekka vElai irukku!’ –> ”Oh God, I’ve got mountain-loads of work to do!”.

    (NB: Vowels in capital letters = long vowels (A = ‘aa’, I = ‘ee’ etc; Consonants in capitals mainly represent hard retroflex sounds; c = ‘ch’)

  12. In Egyptian Arabic it is مشغول لشوشته (mashghool leshooshtoh) which means busy to the last fuzzy hazy limit of of his/her head hair.

  13. I see that all the Arabic samples given here are dialectic but none in standard Arabic.
    But I think the usual expression for such phrases in S.Arabic would be:
    1. Gháriqun [gháriqatun, f.] fil `amal. (i.e. sinking in work).
    2. Munhamikun [munhamikatun, f.] fil `amal. (i.e. busy with work, or being hard with work).

    some extra words can be added I guess to these 2 phrases to give extra (funny) meanings, like nose, ears and other parts of the body.

  14. In Polish there is po uszy “up to ears” (for example zakochany po uszy lit. “enamored up to [the] ears”).
    Po pachy “up to armpits” is used in the expression ubaw po pachy (lit. “hilarity up to [the] armpits”) which is employed when you are really amused because of some situation.

  15. In Swedish you can be up to your ears, up to your throat or “det växer mig över huvudet” (it is growing over my head). We also talk a lot about being covered “överhopad” or snowed over by work (we have a lot of snow in Sweden)

  16. Do you know? In Japan, if people are very busy
    we can say “Neko no te mo karitai(猫の手も借りたい)”.
    It means we need any help even if it’s a hand of cat.
    In English it is translated as “I need every help I can get.”

    I don’t know the exact origin of the phrase.
    But isn’t that interesting?

  17. In Dutch there is an expression “beyond my ears..”, but that is mainly in relation with falling in love: “Ik ben tot over mijn oren verliefd”.
    Like in Swedish, in Dutch it’s said: “It’s growing above my head”(het groeit me boven het hoofd), when something becomes too much.

  18. This is good stuff indeed!
    The chap I spoke to about it one fine day( He is a native Spanish speaker and one who is indirectly responsible for the above thread) said that he was ‘hasta los huevos’ with his work when i asked him how he was! This may be a slightly more informal expression than those already mentioned.

  19. Karin,
    In English we also have “I’m snowed under at work”.
    Is the Swedish “Jag är överhopad/översnöad med arbete”?

    Yuko, I love “I need help even if it’s the hands of a cat”. I may try it in English, although I hope I don’t get snowed under with work.

  20. In Mexico I have heard often “estoy hasta las narices”
    indicating that one is up to their nostrils ………or that one
    is fed up with something. It sounds like water boarding to me.
    jejejeje I enjoy your blog. thank you

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