Szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu posted an article not long ago about Hungarian sayings that foreigners find funny because they mean something completely different in English.
Matadornetwork.com compared these sayings with their English equivalents and the collection turned out to be very humorous. We were inspired by these saying pairs and collected even more to brighten up your day. Seemingly, you might not find logic in most of these sayings but they have been told and handed over in these forms for many-many years and they form a part of our traditions.
Curiosity killed the cat = “Aki kíváncsi, hamar megöregszik”
The Hungarian equivalent of ‘curiosity killed the cat’ means that ‘if you are too curious, you’ll get old quickly’ in metaphrase which could be a rare pairing since curiosity is not a bad feature by all means.
Enough is enough = “Jóból is megárt a sok”
It means that ‘one can have too much of a good thing as well’. You might be wondering how you can have too much of good things? Well, this is the beauty of sayings. However, the message is clear.
Far, far away = “Az Isten háta mögött”
When we want to express how far something is, we say it is ‘behind God’s back’.
She’s jumping for joy = “Örül, mint majom a farkának”
When somebody is very happy about something we say that the person is ‘as happy as a monkey about his tail’. We realize that this sounds utterly strange in English but it is a totally normal thing to say in Hungarian.
Much cry, little wool = “Sok hűhó semmiért” This means ‘a lot of whoop-de-doo for nothing’ and it essentially gives back the meaning of the saying in Hungarian as well. (Although the title of the Shakespeare play Much ado about nothing connects these sayings – bm)
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket = “Ne tegyél fel mindent egy lapra”
In a figurative sense the sayings have the same meaning but the Hungarian version literally means ‘don’t put everything onto one card’ which is a bit harder to visualise than putting eggs into a basket.
When pigs fly! = “Majd ha piros hó esik!”
Expressing ‘never’ is funny in both languages with sayings of unbelievable events like ‘when red snow falls’.
Once a thief, always a thief = “Kutyából nem lesz szalonna”
The Hungarian version means ‘you can’t make bacon out of a dog’ which is again, quite funny. No wonder kids find it hard to understand and remember Hungarian sayings a lot of times.
It is raining cats and dogs = “Esik mintha dézsából öntenék”
In this pair, the Hungarian version means ‘it rains like it is poured from a tub’ while the English equivalent of it is funnier to imagine.
Swim like a tailor’s goose = “Úgy úszik, mint a nyeletlen fejsze”
This saying has a similar meaning in Hungarian, ‘swim like an axe without a grip’, still it is funny to imagine in a visual way.
It is sleeping like a log = “Alszik, mint a bunda”
If someone sleeps soundly we say that the person ‘sleeps like a fur coat’. But how does a fur coat sleep?
It’s not worth the effort = “Annyit ér, mint halottnak a csók”
As you can probably see the pattern now, Hungarian sayings are a bit more complicated in some cases just like in this example when we express ‘it’s not worth the effort’ by saying ‘it’s worth as much as a kiss to a dead person’.
Useless = “Kevés vagy, mint mackósajtban a brummogás” Last but not least, this might be the funniest expression on our list. We say ‘you’re as little as the roaring in a Mackó cheese’ – which is a type of Hungarian cheese that has a small bear on its label – when referring to someone useless or no good.