International Idioms That Sound Hilarious in English

If you think English idioms sound weird, try wrapping your mind around these strange phrases from other countries.

Tie a bear to someone (German)

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Fooling people is a universal trick. In English, we say “pulling a fast one” or “pulling the wool over someone’s eyes.” In German, you might say you’re “tying a bear on someone.” It seems like they’d notice that a bear was tied on them, but maybe not. Give it a whirl in English: “Good job tying a bear on your boss with that lateness excuse!” Check out these 9 everyday idioms you may be using wrong.

Swallow some camels (Norwegian)

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Don’t “swallow some camels”—stay the course and ride it out. In Norwegian, this bizarre phrase about camels means to give in to something. It’s a great phrase to use when whatever you’re giving into is absolutely impossible to swallow. Remember it’s not just one camel, it’s at least two!

My cheeks are falling off (Japanese)

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Imagine eating something so delicious that your cheeks absolutely fall right off. If you say the phrase in Japanese everyone will know that you believe your meal is delicious. Go ahead and try this phrase out the next time you’re partaking of a mouth-watering treat. Here are the surprising origins of 14 common phrases.


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