15 Beautiful Croatian Phrases We Need in English

Doće maca na vratanca | © Breckles/Flickr
Doće maca na vratanca | © Breckles/Flickr | Breckles/Flickr
Photo of Peterjon Cresswell
18 January 2018

Every culture has its own pearls of wisdom, handed down from generation to generation. Classic phrases used by Croatians are rooted in its peasant past, with references to nature and animals, although some have modern-day origins. Many, though by no means all, have some kind of equivalent in English. Here are 15 colourful and imaginative Croatian idioms and phrases you need to know about.

Stara koka, dobra juha

‘Old hen, good soup’: An older woman might have more appeal.

Stara koka, dobra juha | Rool Paap/Flickr

Neka visi Pedro

‘Let’s hang Pedro’: Let’s find a scapegoat. It refers to a novelty hit by Zagreb beat combo Kvartet 4M, whose title fell into everyday speech.

Tko vino večera, vodu doručkuje

‘Who dines on wine has water for breakfast’: You have to pay the price for whatever you did the night before.

Čovjek snuje, Bod određuje

‘Man devises, God determines’: The best laid plans of mice and men.

Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe

‘When the willow bears grapes’: When pigs fly.

Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe | Masterbutler/Flickr

Mi o vuku, a vuk na vrata

‘We were talking about the wolf, and now it’s at the door’: Speak of the devil

Da padne na leđa, razbio bi nos

‘If he fell on his back, he would break his nose’: Whatever he does, he will always be unlucky.

Žuri polako

‘Hurry slowly’: More speed, less haste.

Doće maca na vratanca

‘The cat will come to the tiny door’: The consequences of your actions will come back to haunt you.

Doće maca na vratanca | Keith Roper/Flickr

Bez muke nema nauke

‘Without hardship there is no knowledge’: No pain, no gain.

Tko prvi, njegova djevojka

‘Whoever is first gets the girl’: First come, first served.

Ne trči pred rudo

‘Don’t run in front of the carriage’: Don’t jump the gun.

Ne trči pred rudo! | Phil Richards/Flickr

Ispeći pa reći

‘Bake it, then say it’: Think before you speak.

Kititi se tuđim perjem

‘Dress yourself in borrowed feathers’: To take credit for someone else’s deeds.

Kititi se tuđim perjem | Frank Shepherd/Flickr

Bogu iza nogu

‘Behind God’s legs’: In the middle of nowhere.