12 Czech Sayings That Make No Sense in English

Dictionary bird
Dictionary bird | Pixabay
Diana Bocco

Czech can be a strange language. In fact, some of the most common sayings are truly bizarre and seem to make no sense when you first hear them. We take at look at some widely used Czech phrases and try to explain what they mean.

Vetřít se někam (Ve-trzheet se-nye-kum)

Translation: To rub yourself in somewhere.
Meaning: To crash a party—to go somewhere where you’re not invited and try to find your way in.

Partying in Prague

Platný jak mrtvýmu zimník (Plat-nee yuk murt-veeh-moo zim-nyeek)

Translation: He needs it like a dead man needs a winter coat.
Meaning: This is used to mean “as useful as” for things that are obviously not useful at all.

“Useful” can mean different things to different people

Hodit flintu do žita (Hoh-deet fleen-too doh zheetah)

Translation: Throwing your rifle in the rye.
Meaning: To throw in the towel or to give up, especially after a long fight that seems to be going nowhere.

“Giving up” in Czech might require a visit to the fields

Jednou za uherský rok (Yed-noh za oo-heyr-skee rok)

Translation: Once in a Hungarian moon.
Meaning: Close equivalent to “once in a blue moon” or very rarely. Nobody seems to know what Hungary has to do with it.

Is this a Hungarian moon?

Bílý sex (Bee-lee sex)

Translation: White sex.
Meaning: Midnight snack. The white being a reference to the traditional color of fridges.

Snacks just got more tempting

Pečení holubi nelítají do huby (Pe-chenyee ho-l00-bee ne-lyee-tayee doh-hoobee)

Translation: Baked pigeons don’t fly into your mouth.
Meaning: If you want to make money or achieve something, you have to work for it.

Work hard for your rewards

Ryba smrdí od hlavy (Ree-ba smur-dyee ot-hla-vee)

Translation: A fish rots from its head.
Meaning: If something is wrong, chances are it started with the government or leaders.


Má máslo na hlavě (Maah-maah-slo na hlav-yeh)

Translation: He has butter on his head.
Meaning: He carries a lot of secrets that everybody knows about, or, he has skeletons in his closet—except that they’re not actually skeletons anymore but very obvious things.

Some secrets are less secret than you’d think

Kdo uteče ten vyhraje (Gdo’ oo-techeh ten vee-hrayeh)

Translation: He who runs away, wins.
Meaning: It is wiser to give up and walk away from a situation if you think you can’t win.

Giving up is for winners… sometimes

Jeden myslel, že si uprdne a posral se (Jeh-den mee-slel, zheh-see oopurdneh ah po-sral se)

Translation: A man once thought he would fart but he pooped himself instead.
Meaning: It doesn’t matter what you thought would be the consequences of your actions—it only matter what the real consequences are, or if you make a mistake, it’s pointless to say, “Well, I thought…”.

Some mistakes are a little more consequential than others

Po bitvě je každý generálem (Po’ beet-vyeh ye-kazhdee geh-neh-raah-lem)

Translation: After the battle, everybody is a general.
Meaning: It’s easier to know the right answer after everything’s said and done; this is similar to the phrase, “hindsight is 20-20”.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Trpělivost ruže přináší (Tur-pyelih-vost roozheh przhee-naah-shee)

Translation: Patience brings roses.
Meaning: Be patient and you’ll be rewarded greatly and beautifully.

Good things happen to those who wait

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