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Another 10 Croatian clichés to drop into conversation with a Croat

Croatians chatting at a caffe bar outside

Clichés by definition are phrases that have been overused to the point of losing meaning. They are often used in all languages including Croatian. By using clichés, you can express what you want to say very clearly.

We’ve already put together a list of the most frequently used Croatian clichés – find it here. Since 10 Croatian clichés are simply not enough, here are another 10 that will give you some serious street cred with the Croatians in your life.

The facts are these…

#1 Bolje spriječiti, nego liječiti.

Literal translation: Better safe than sorry.
True meaning: Better to prevent an issue than deal with its consequences.

#2 Zrno po zrno pogača, kamen po kamen palača.

Literal translation: Grain by grain, a loaf. Stone upon stone, a palace.
True meaning: Go step-by-step and you will succeed.

#3 Ako neće milom, onda će silom.

Literal translation: If not by will, then by force.
True meaning: If things don’t go your way, do it by force.

#4 Tko nema u glavi, ima u nogama.

Literal translation: Those who don’t have it in their head, have it in their feet.
True meaning: If you forget (to do) something, you will have to go back (to solve it).

#5 Bez muke nema nauke.

Literal translation: There is no science/knowledge without torment/pain.
True meaning: You have to work hard to earn knowledge and succeed.

#6 Tko tebe kamenom, ti njega kruhom.

Literal translation: Someone throws a stone on you, and you give them bread.
True meaning: Respond to evil with good.

#7 Tresla se brda, rodio se miš.

Literal translation: Hills were shaking, a mouse was born.
True meaning: When someone talks a lot of hype, but it doesn’t add up in the end.

#8 Dok mačke nema, miševi kolo vode.

Literal translation: When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
True meaning: People will naturally take advantage of the absence of someone in authority to do as they like.

#9 Mnogo vike, nizašto.

Literal translation: Much ado about nothing.
True meaning: A great fuss is made of something which is insignificant.

#10 Svako zlo za neko dobro.

Literal translation: Every good for some evil.
True meaning: For every evil or negative thing, something good will happen or come out of it.

View other Croatian vocabulary posts

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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