15 Hungarian proverbs that you never understood

The Hungarian language is a tough nut to crack, even more so if you’re trying to take things literally. We’ve rounded up 15 commonly used Hungarian expressions which mean something totally different than what foreign minds would interpret them. To navigate you through this Biblical confusion of tongues, we’ve written down both the literal and the figurative meaning of the expressions.

1. “Örül, mint majom a farkának.” means: She’s as happy as a monkey about his tail.

Hungarians use it instead of “She’s jumping for joy.” term.

2. „Kicsire nem adunk!” means „Something so small doesn’t count.”

The real meaning is: It doesn’t matter.

3. “Miért itatod az egereket?”  means „Why are you giving drinks to the mice?”

We ask this when we want to know why somebody is crying.

4. „Annyit ér, mint halottnak a csók.” means literally „It’s worth as much as a kiss to a dead person” We use it to say: “It’s not worth the effort.”

5 “Az Isten háta mögött.” means „Behind God’s back.”

In English it would be „Far, far away.”


6. „Nincsen rózsa tövis nélkül.” manss „There is no rose without thorns.”

It means that nothing is perfect.

7. “Kutyából nem lesz szalonna.” means: „You can’t make bacon out of a dog.”

The English suitable is “Once a thief, always a thief.”

8 “Kenyérre lehet kenni.” means „You can spread him on bread.”

Hungarians use this term when they think about somebody to be a good-hearted person.

9.  „A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.” means „They catch up with a liar sooner than with a limping dog.”

The real meaning is: your lies will come to light sooner than you think.


10. „Amelyik kutya ugat, az nem harap.” means „The dog that barks doesn’t bite.”

Means that a people who make the loudest threats are the least likely to take action.

11. “Majd ha piros hó esik!”  means „When red snow falls!”

Hungarians use this expression when they want to say „When pigs fly”

12. „Bámul, mint borjú az új kapura.” means: „He stares at the new gate as a calf.”

The real meaning is somebody merely looks at something without taking action.

13. „Nem esik messze az alma a fájától.” means „The apple falls close to its tree.”

The real meaning is that a children often follow the example of their parents in their behaviour.

14.  “Nem kolbászból van a kerítés.” means „The fence is not made from sausage.”

And what the Hungarians really want to say: “It’s not as good as you think.”

15.  “Ez nekem kínai.” means „It’s Chinese for me.”

It’s like the English “It’s all Greek to me.”


+ 5 Slangs to understand everything


„Karó” (stick)  or „pálca” (rod)

The 2 words mean the same thing: you could not pass the test.

„Bukó” translates to „tumble”

Means you’ve failed an exam.

“Zsír” („fat” in English) or „Király” (meaning „king”)

Both words are used when you think about something to be really cool.

„Bedől” translates to „leans into something”

Someone being naive, giving credit for somehing that’s not true.

„Vágod?” translates to „cut it?”

Hungarians use this word when they want to make sure you understand them.