An Introduction To The Croatian Language In 10 Idioms

Pissed off cat/tiny door
Pissed off cat/tiny door | © Rachel Docherty/Flickr
Justin McDonnell

Serbo-Croatian is full of expressions that confuse and amuse in equal measure. Croatian idioms offer up a wonderfully abstract way of looking at reality. Read on to learn some typical Croatian sayings and proverbs.

Pjevaš kao da ti je slon prdnuo u uho: You sing like an elephant farted in your ear.

Croatians take pride in the absurdity of their figurative expressions, especially when it comes to swearing. Usually, the more surreal the phrase, the better. This idiom basically means you have no ear for music. And no musical ability at all. Nice!

A giant elephant’s ass

Bacati kajmak u oči: throwing cream into your eyes

In Croatian, when it becomes obvious someone is lying to another person, you could say they’re ‘throwing cream into their eyes.’ Its closest English relation would be ‘pulling the wool over someone’s eyes.’ Which doesn’t sound quite as messy.

Muda Labudova: Balls of a swan, or ‘swan’s balls’

Another shining example of surreal Croatian swearing, this expression refers to something that’s impossible. English speakers are perhaps more familiar with the term ‘bollocks’. Do swans even have balls?

Doće maca na vratanca: the pussy cat will come to the tiny door

This curious idiom essentially translates as ‘What goes around comes around.’ The pussy cat will come to the tiny door. Of course it will.

Angry cat/tiny door

Boli me kurac: my dick hurts.

This expression basically means ‘I don’t give a shit.’ Its figurative meaning implies being in no emotional pain at all, to the point of absolute uncaring.

Da vidimo čija majka crnu vunu prede: we see whose mother is spinning black wool.’

I sounds like witchcraft, but the roots of this expression are much the same as ‘the black sheep of the family.’ One theory goes that black sheep were seen as worthless compared to their white companions because their fleeces weren’t suitable for dyeing.

Black sheep of the family

Mi o vuku, a vuk na vrata: While we are talking about the wolf, the wolf is on the doorstep

This idiomatic expression isn’t a million miles from ‘speak of the devil’. Its usage is much the same in the Croatian vernacular; the wolf is on the doorstep when someone appears after being mentioned in conversation.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article