English idioms that are a little different in Croatian


Every language has its own sayings, cliches, parables, and idioms. Some overlap between languages and some are unique to a specific culture that stretches over generations. Croatian is no exception.

In my time living here, I’ve heard a handful of idioms that are really close to the ones I use in English, but are just a little… different. They were a bit startling to hear the first time because they sounded ridiculous. But when you think about it, all idioms sound ridiculous no matter the language.

Idioms are a group of unrelated words whose meaning is unrelated to the individual words. It’s a “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” kind of situation. Most people use idioms when speaking, regardless of whether they know they are or not. As part of your assimilation to life in Croatia, using these idioms can give you a new avenue for communicating in Croatian.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

5 English idioms that are a little different in Croatian

#1 When in a difficult situation

English: in a pickle
Croatian: u banani (in a banana)

#2 When someone breaks stuff or causes damage in situations that require delicacy

English: bull in a china shop
Croatian: slon u staklarni (elephant in a glass house)

#3 When a situation is made to sound worse than it is

English: mountain out of a molehill
Croatian: od muhe radiš slona (you are making an elephant out of a fly)

#4 When something is really easy

English: a piece of cake
Croatian: mačji kašalj (a cat’s cough)

#5 When something is impossible

English: when pigs fly
Croatian: kad na vrbi rodi grožđe (when the willow bears grapes)

View our other Croatian language learning lessons here.

View our other 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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