Hungarian proverbs

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You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.
Thomas Traherne
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A,Á - B - C - Cs - D - E,É - F - G - Gy - H - I,Í - J - K - L - Ly - M - N - Ny - O,Ó - Ö,Ő - P - R - S - Sz - T,Ty - U,Ú - Ü,Ű - V - Z - Zs


A,Á

  • Addig jár a korsó a kútra, míg el nem törik.
    • Translation:
      • A mug keeps going to the well until it breaks eventually.
      • A jar goes to the well until shattered.
    • Interpretations:
      • You cannot do anything wrong/bad (or illegal) for a long time because sooner or later your secrets will come to light.
      • Sooner or later life will show you that what you do is wrong.


  • Addig nyújtózkodj, amíg a takaród ér.
    • Translation:
      • Only stretch as far as your blanket reaches.
    • Interpretation:
      • Do not try to do more than your circumstances allow you.


  • Ágyúval lő verébre.
    • Translation:
      • Shooting sparrows with a cannon.


  • A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.
    • Variant: Hamarabb utolérik a hazug embert, mint a sánta kutyát.
    • Translation:
      • They catch up with a liar sooner than with a limping dog.
    • Interpretation:
      • Do not lie because your lies will come to light sooner than you think.



  • Aki Á-t mond, mondjon B-t is.
    • Translation:
      • He who says A, should also say B.
    • English analogy:
      • In for a penny, in for a pound.



  • Aki másnak vermet ás, maga esik bele.
    • Translation:
      • If you dig a hole for someone else you'll fall into it.


  • A könyvek néma mesterek
    • Translation:
      • Books are silent masters.



  • Amilyen az adjonisten, olyan a fogadjisten.
    • Interpretation:
      • The way you greet someone determines how he will welcome you.


  • Amit ma megtehetsz, ne halaszd holnapra!
    • Translation:
      • What you can do today don't put off to tomorrow.


  • Apád nem volt üveges.
    • Your father wasn't a glazier.
    • Interpretation:
      • Step aside because I can't see through you.


  • A szükség a legnagyobb tanítómester.
    • variant: A szükség a legjobb mester
    • Translation:
      • Necessity is the greatest teacher.




  • Az orvosokból lesz a legrosszabb beteg.
    • Translation:
      • Doctors make the worst patients!


  • Ajtóstul ront a házba.
    • Translation:
      • Kicking the door down on entering the house
    • Interpretation:
      • To do something without premeditation.


  • A tiltott gyümölcs a legédesebb.
    • Translation:
      • The forbidden fruit is the sweetest.



  • A hűség hegyeket mozgathat meg.
    • Translation:
      • Faithfulness can move mountains.


  • A szerelem vak.
    • Translation:
      • Love is blind.
    • Interpreation:
      • Being in love, one may not see the true nature of their sweetheart.


  • A szerencse forgandó.
    • Translations:
      • Luck is inconstant.
      • The wheel of fortune is ever turning.
    • Interpretation:
      • You cannot rely on your luck because it keeps changing.



  • Aki egyszer hazudni mer, több hitelt nem érdemel.
    • Translation:
      • Once you have lied you don't deserve credit.


  • A szerencsét keltegetni kell.
    • Translation:
      • Luck needs to be cultivated (nurtured).


  • Az ellentétek vonzzák egymást.
    • Translation:
      • Opposites attract each other.


  • A név kötelez.
    • Translation:
      • Nobility obliges.
    • Interpretation:
      • To keep one's family name in honor, one must keep to certain values.
      • You are obliged by the values of what you represent.


  • A szamár is akkor megy a jégre táncolni, amikor a legjobb dolga van.
    • Translation:
      • The donkey will dance on ice only if its well-being is exceptional.


  • A fuldokló még az utolsó szalmaszálba is belekapaszkodik.
    • Translation:
      • The drowning person will even hold on a piece of straw.


  • A fal nem üt vissza.
    • Translation:
      • The wall will not punch back.
    • Interpretation:
      • Vent your anger without hurting anyone.



  • Aki egyszer már megégette magát, az fél a tűztől
    • Translation:
      • Who has burnt once is scared of fire.
    • Interpretation:
      • Once you experienced something bad, you will have a fear of it.
    • English analogy:


  • Aki mer, az nyer.
    • Translation:
      • He who dares, wins.


  • A szorgalom mindig meghozza gyümölcsét.
    • Translations:
      • Attentiveness will always bring its fruit.
      • Industriousness will always bear fruit.


  • A legjobb védekezés a támadás.
    • Translation:
      • Attack is the best defence.


  • Azt sem tudja, hogy eszik-e vagy isszák.
    • Translation:
      • He/She has no idea about whether it should be eaten or drunk.
    • Intepretation:
      • He/She has no idea how to use it.
      • He/She has no idea about it.


  • Alkalom szüli a tolvajt.
    • Translation:
      • Opportunity makes the thief.


  • Az idő minden sebet begyógyít.
    • Translation:
      • Time heals all wounds.
    • Interpretation:
      • You will get over your bad experiences as time goes by.


  • Ahány ház, annyi szokás.
    • Translation:
      • There are as many customs as houses.
    • Interpretation:
      • Every family has its own way.


  • Amit nem tudunk az nem fáj.
    • Translation:
      • What we don't know doesn't hurt.


  • Aki délelőtt bolond, délután is az.
    • Translation:
      • A fool in the morning is fool in the afternoon.



  • A fehér liliomnak is lehet fekete az árnyéka.
    • Translation:
      • Even a white lily can cast a black shadow.


  • Az nevet, aki utoljára nevet.
    • Translation:
      • He who laughs last, laughs best.


  • Az éhség a legjobb szakács.
    • Translation:
      • Hunger is the best chef.


  • Az öndicséret büdös.
    • Translation:
      • Egotism stinks.


  • Az idő pénz.
    • Translation:
      • Time is money.


  • Az egyik szemem sír, a másik nevet.
    • Translation:
      • One of my eyes is crying, the other one is laughing.
    • Interpretation:
      • I am half-sad, half-happy about it.


  • Akasztják a hóhért.
    • Translation:
      • The hangman is being hanged.
    • Interpretation:
      • Used when someone gets a subordinate role in a situation where usually they have the upper hand.


  • Akkor zárja be a karámot, amikor a ló már megszökött
    • He locks the stable door but the horse has escaped already
      • Interpretation: he acts too late, the trouble has already happened


  • A szomszéd fűje/kertje mindig zöldebb.'
    • Translation:
      • The grass is always greener in the neighbour's garden.
    • English analogy:
      • The grass is always greener on the other side.



  • Átesett a ló túlsó oldalára.
    • Translation:
      • He fell onto the other side of the horse.
    • Interpretation:
      • Trying to avoid a problem or situation, he overcompensated and now has the opposite problem.
      • For example: Someone was very thin and the doctor told him to eat more. He ate and ate and ate because he didn't want to get ill but he ate so much that now he is overweight.

B

  • Bagoly mondja a verébnek, hogy nagyfejű
    • Translation:
      • The owl calls the sparrow big-headed.
    • English analogy:
      • The pot calls the kettle black.


  • Bajban ismerszik meg a jó barát.
    • Translation:
      • A friend in need, is a friend indeed.


  • Bal lábbal kelt fel.
    • Translation:
      • He got up putting his left foot first on the floor.
    • NOTE:
      • It is said when someone started his day in a bad mood.


  • Belead apait, anyait.
    • Translation: Gives fatherliness, motherliness into it
    • Meaning: Gives it everything he can muster.


  • Bolond likból bolond szél fúj.
    • Other version: Bolond lyukból bolond szél fúj.
    • Translation:
      • From a silly hole, a silly wind blows.
    • NOTE:
      • Usually used when the speech of the person talking to you makes no sense.


  • Boszorkányok pedig nincsenek
    • Translation:
      • The truth is that there are no witches.


  • Beszélni ezüst, hallgatni arany.
    • Translation:
      • Speech is silver; silence is golden.


  • Biztos, ami biztos.
    • Translation:
      • Sure what is sure.
    • English equivalent:
      • Just to be on the safe side.

C

Cs

  • Csak a fejét (üsd), hogy meg ne sántuljon!
    • Translation: Only hit his head so he doesn't start limping.
  • Csak az téved, aki csinál is valamit.
    • Only those who do something can muck it up.
  • Csöbörből vödörbe.
    • Translation: From the can into the bucket.
    • English equivalent: Out of the frying pan into the fire.
    • Meaning: Ends up in another situation that is just as bad as the first one.

D

E,É

  • Ebül szerzett jószág ebül vész el.
    • Translation: Something you stole will be also stolen from you.
  • Egy ember barátjairól ismerszik meg.
    • Translation: You can tell a man by his friends.
  • Egy fecske nem csinál nyarat.
    • Translation: One swallow does not make a summer.
    • Meaning: Do not jump to conclusions.
  • Ember tervez, Isten végez.
    • Translation: Man makes plans, God finishes them.
    • Meaning: Man proposes, God disposes.
    • Interpretation:
      • You cannot count 100% on your plans for the future.


  • Ennek a fele sem tréfa.
    • Translation: Not a half of it is a joke.
    • Meaning: This is not to be taken lightly.
  • Eső után köpönyeg.
    • Translation: Coat after rain.
    • Approx. "it's no use crying over spilt milk".
  • Elefánt a porcelánboltban.
    • Elephant in a porcelain shop
    • NOTE: Describes extreme clumsiness.
    • English analogy:
      • A bull in a china shop.


  • Evés közben jön meg az étvágy.
    • Appetite comes whilst eating.
  • Egy fenékkel nem lehet két lovat megülni.
    • You can not sit on two horses with one bum.
  • Először a munka, aztán a szórakozás.
    • Work first then play.
  • Elássa a csatabárdot.
    • Bury the hatchet.
  • Egy újabb szeg a koporsójába.
    • Another nail in his/her coffin.


  • Eszi a kefét.
    • He's eating the brush.
    • meaning: he's going through a bad patch. Or he's dealing with the consequencies of his bad decisions.


  • Ép testben ép lélek.
    • A sound mind in a sound body.
  • Édes a bosszú.
    • Vengeance tastes sweet.

F

  • Fejétől bűzlik a hal
    • Translation: The fish stinks from the head.
    • Meaning: If there is trouble in an organisation (moral/ethical/otherwise), chances are it started at the top.
  • Fejjel rohan a falnak.
    • Run head first into the wall
    • Meaning: Act without thinking
  • Festi az ördögöt a falra.
    • Translation: Painting the devil onto the wall.
    • Meaning: Promoting tomfoolery / tempting bad karma.
    • Example use of this imagery: "You'll be the death of me"
    • English nautical analog: "Don't bring the devil aboard!"
  • Felkötheti a gatyáját.
    • He should tie up his pants (usually referring to a belt or liederhosen)
    • Meaning: He needs all he can muster to do the job properly.
    • English analogy:
      • He ought to pull his socks up.


G

Gy

  • Gyerek és bolond mindig igazat mond.
    • A child and a fool will always tell the truth.
    • Bolond is somewhat like a forgetful, innocent, slightly mad person.
  • Gyom mindenütt terem.
    • Weeds grow everywhere (In every community you'll find bad things happening or bad persons present.)
  • Gyakorlat teszi a mestert.
    • Direct translation: Practice makes the master
    • Practice makes perfect

H

  • Hazug embert, sánta kutyát, hamar utolérik.
    • Translation: The liar and the lame dog are quickly caught.
    • The original goes more like this: "A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát"
    • Translation: A liar is caught quicker (easier/sooner) than a lame dog.
    • Meaning: Do not lie.
  • Ha rövid a kardod, toldd meg egy lépéssel.
    • Traslation: If your sword is short, lengthen it with a step.
    • Meaning: In times of difficulty, summon up your reserve strength.
  • Ha a hegy nem jön Mohammedhez, akkor Mohammed megy a hegyhez.
    • If the mountain doesn't come to Mohammed, Mohammed goes to the mountain
  • Ha szivárványt akarsz látni, először végig kell nézned az esőt.
    • If you want to see a rainbow you must first sit through the rain.
  • Ha nincs otthon a macska, cincognak az egerek.
    • Direct translation: If the cat's not at home, the mice will sing (make mice noise)
    • If the cat's away, the mice will play
  • Harapófogóval kell kihúzni belőle.
    • Have to use pliers to get it out of him (the person)
    • Note: The person in question is unwilling to go into details.

I,Í

  • Isten útjai kifürkészhetetlenek.
    • God works in mysterious ways.


  • Ízlések és pofonok különbözőek.
    • Tastes and smacks vary.
    • meaning: Everybody has their own likes and dislikes.

English original: Different strokes for different folks

J

  • Jó kezdet, fél siker
    • Translation: Good start, half success.
  • Jó pap holtig tanul.
    • Translation: A good priest learns till he dies.
  • Jó tett helyébe jót várj.
    • Translation: Expect good if you do good.
  • Jó munkához idő kell.
    • Good work needs time.
  • Jóból is megárt a sok.
    • You can have too much of a good thing
  • Jobb ma egy veréb, mint holnap egy túzok.
    • Translation: Rather a sparrow today than a bustard tomorrow.
    • English analog: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Jobb félni, mint megijedni.
    • Translation: It's better to be afraid than to be frightened.
  • Jobb adni, mint kapni.
    • It's better to give than to receive

K

  • Kerülgeti, mint macska a forró kását.
    • Translation: He is circling around it like a cat around the hot porridge.
    • Meaning: this proverb is usually used to describe when someone wants something but is too afraid to say so.
  • Két legyet üt egy csapásra.
    • 2 flies with one swat
    • English counterpart: 2 birds with one stone
  • Késő bánat, eb gondolat.
    • Late regret is in vain. Meaning: There are things ( words said, events happened etc) one cannot undo/change/make it better,one just has to live with the consequences and move on.
  • Ki mint veti ágyát, úgy alussza álmát.
    • Translation: As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.
    • Meaning: As you prepare so you will rest

English original: You've made your bed, now lie in it

  • Kinek a pap, kinek a papné (tetszik).
    • Translation: Some like the priest, some like the wife of the priest.
    • Meaning: One's opinion might be drastically different than someone else's. More like: One's taste is different from others' tastes.
    • It is also thought that in the original saying the word "pap" was actually a family name ( hence Mr. and Mrs. Pap)and not a priest pap.
  • Ki a kicsit nem becsüli, a nagyot nem érdemli.
    • Whoever doesn't appreciate small tokens of (appreciation/gratitude), doesn't deserve larger (appreciation/gratitude)
  • Ki mint vet, úgy arat.
    • As you sow, so shall you reap.
  • Kivétel erősíti a szabályt.
    • Exceptions make the rule stronger.
  • Kinek bő az idő, még kifut belőle.'
    • He, who has plenty of time, will run out of it.
    • Meaning: He who thinks that there's plenty of time to do something that needs to be done, will end up rushing it to finish in time.
  • Könyökömön jön ki.
    • Translation: It is coming out of my elbow.
    • Meaning: It happened so often that it makes me bored.
  • Közös lónak túros a háta.
    • Translation: A jointly owned horse has a roughed-up back.
    • Meaning: "The tragedy of commons" - A commonly owned/used horse will be over-used and not taken care of properly.
  • Kukoricázni.
    • No direct translation, 'corn' used as a verb. Ne kukoricáz - don't hesitate
    • Meaning: "to hesitate"

L

  • Lassan járj, tovább érsz.
    • Translation: Walk slowly, you'll get further.
  • Lassú víz partot mos.
    • English analog:Still waters run deep.
    • Meaning: Persistence will be rewarded.
  • Legszebb öröm a káröröm.
    • Direct translation: The best joy is someone else's misfortune (schadenfreude).


Ly

M

  • Madarat tolláról, embert barátjáról.
    • Translation: You can judge a bird from it's feathers and a person from their friends
    • English analogue: Birds of a feather flock together
  • Májusi eső aranyat ér.
    • The May rain is worth gold.
    • April showers bring May flowers. The name of the month doesn't fit but the sense of the proverb is the same. The agriculture needs the rain especially in May (at least in Hungary).
  • Meghaltam és vidéken vagyok eltemetve.
    • Translation: I'm dead and buried in the countryside.
    • Meaning: I'm busy, don't disturb me.
  • Mindenhol jó, de legjobb otthon!
    • Translation: Anywhere is good, but home is best!
    • English analogue: There's no place like home.
  • Minden jó, ha a vége jó.
    • Translation: All's well that ends well.
  • Maga alatt vágja a fát.
    • Cutting the tree right under oneself
  • Minden lében két kanál.
    • Literal translation: (the person) is two spoons in all liquids
    • Meaning: "He is liable to do anything" or "He sticks his nose in everything".
    • English analogue: Have a finger in every pie.
  • Más tollával ékeskedik.
    • Using another's feather to impress
  • Mindenki a maga szerencséjének kovácsa.
    • Translation: Everyone's the blacksmith of their own fate.
    • Meaning: Everyone has control of their own fate.
      • “Each man is the smith of his own fortune ”. Appius Claudius quotes (Roman statesman, 300 B.C.)
  • Mindent lehet, csupán akarni kell.
    • Everything is possible, you just need to want it!
  • Minden csoda három napig tart.
    • All miracles last 3 days.
      • Meaning: Novelty always wears off eventually.
  • Minden jó, ha jó a vége.
  • All is well that ends well.
  • Más kárán tanul az okos.
    • The smart one will learn from the mistakes of others
  • Minden kezdet nehéz.
    • All beginnings are hard
  • Megrágta az idő vasfoga.
    • Time's iron teeth have chewed it.
    • NOTE: Rusty, old, weathered. Description of an old/antique item

N

  • Nagyobb a füstje, mint a lángja.
    • Translation: More smoke than flame.
  • Ne ítélj, hogy ne ítéltess.
    • Translation: Judge not if you want not to be judged.
  • Nekem nyolc.
    • Translation: It's "eight" to me.
    • Meaning: It doesn't matter to me.
  • Nem ijed meg a maga árnyékától.
    • Translation: He is not afraid of his own shadow.
  • Nem látja a fától az erdőt.
    • Can't see the forest from the tree.
    • Meaning: A minor detail blinds him to the big picture. / He misses the point.
      • English equivalent:
      • Cannot see the wood for the trees.
  • Nem kell belesírni a kiömlött tejbe
    • Don't cry over spilled milk


  • Nem mind arany, ami fénylik.
    • Translation: Not all that glitters is gold.
  • Nem zörög a haraszt, ha a szél nem fújja.
    • Translation: The bushes don't rattle if there's no wind.
    • English analogy: There's no smoke without fire.
  • Nincsen rózsa tövis nélkül.
    • There is no rose without thorns.
      • Meaning: Nothing is perfect.
  • Nem a ruha teszi az embert.
    • Translation: It's not the clothes that make a man (person)
  • Ne etess!
      • Meaning: Don't deceit me! .
  • Ne igyál előre a medve bőrére.
    • Don't drink ahead to the bear's hide
    • English analogy: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
    • Alternate translation: Don't waste your favours before you get them (also works with money)
  • Nem repül a sült galamb a szádba.
    • The fried dove/pigeon (or chicken) will not fly into your mouth
      • Meaning: You have to work for things.
  • Ne szólj szám, nem fáj fejem.
    • Mouth don't utter any words and then I won't have a headache.
      • Meaning: He who says nothing doesn't have to worry about it.
  • Nem eszik olyan forrón a kását(, ahogy főzik).
    • The porridge isn't eaten as hot (as it's made)
      • Meaning: Be patient.
  • Nem akarásnak nyögés a vége.
    • Not trying will end in crying
  • Nem léphetsz kétszer ugyanabba a folyóba.
    • You can't step into the same river twice
  • Nem töltött káposzta, hogy föl lehessen melegíteni.
    • It's not stuffed cabbage (a yummy Hungarian meal) that you can heat again.
    • Meaning: in some things you just cannot retrace your steps to try again, or things are not as good the second time around.
  • Nem fér meg két dudás egy csárdában.
    • Two pipers don't fit in one pub.
  • Nézd meg az anyját, vedd el a lányát.
    • Look at the mother and marry her daughter.
    • NOTE: This phrase to my knowledge is used in the Gypsy songs of old, when a prospective lady is checked out and is asked to marry.
    • Explanation: By looking at the mother, you not only see what type of person your future mother-in-law is but also you get an indication of the kind of upbringing the daughter had received, of her characteristics and domestic capabilities. Plus the possibility of how she will look like in twenty-odd years' time.
  • Nincs lehetetlen, csak tehetetlen.
    • Nothing is impossible, only people who can't do them.
    • Where there is a will, there is a way.

Ny

O,Ó

  • Okos enged, szamár szenved.
    • The smart one yields and the fool (ass/donkey) suffers.
  • Olcsó húsnak híg a leve.
    • Cheap meat produces thin broth

Ö,Ő

  • Ökör iszik magában.
    • Ökör = Bull. But in this context in my opinion it means: The weak minded drinks alone (by themselves).

direct translation: ox drinks alone.
means: man should not drink alone. (a hungarian)

P

  • Pénz beszél, kutya ugat.
    • Money talks, dogs bark


R

S

  • Segíts magadon, (és) az Isten is megsegít.
    • Translation: Help yourself and God will help you also.
    • English Analog: God helps those who help themselves.
  • Sörre bor mindenkor, borra sör meggyötör.
    • Translation: Beer on wine, everything is fine; wine on beer... you are going to get sick / suffer.

Similar to the American saying: Liquor before beer, you're in the clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker.

  • Sok lúd disznót győz.
    • Lots of geese can conquer pigs.
      • English analogy: Power in numbers.
  • Sok kicsi sokra megy.
    • Lots of small (activities/gestures/thoughts/feelings) will amount to a lot.
  • Sötétben minden tehén fekete.
    • In the dark all cows are black
  • Sok beszédnek sok az alja.
    • Lots of talk has lots of leftover
    • Meaning: Too much talk won't solve anything.
  • Tisztaság fél egészség.
    • Cleanliness is half of well being.
  • Sok bába közt elvész a gyermek.
    • Translation: The baby gets lost amongst too many midwives.
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth.
  • Sós a leves, szerelmes a szakács(né).
    • Salty soup, chef (or female chef) in love.
  • Sokat ígér a világ, de keveset ad.
    • The world promises a lot, but delivers little.

Sz

  • Szó elszáll, írás megmarad.
    • Literal translation: Words fly away, but writings remain.
  • Szikrát hány a szeme.
    • Sparks fly from their eye (usually in scorn or anger).
    • English equivalent: Looking at someone with eyes of thunder.
  • Szegény embert még az ág is húzza.
    • A poor person is being pulled even by a branch.
      • Meaning: If you are down, things will seem to conspire against you even more.

T,Ty

  • Temetni tudunk.
    • Translation: How to bury people - that's a thing we (Hungarians) know well.
  • Több vasat is tart a tűzben.
    • Holds more steel into the fire
      • English equivalent: Have a lot irons in the fire.
  • Tévedni emberi dolog.
    • Being wrong is a human trait.English analog: To err is human
  • Többet ésszel, mint erővel.
    • You can do more with intelligence than with force.
  • Tanulj tinó, ökör lesz belőled.
    • Learn young calf, you will become an ox.
  • Türelem rózsát terem.
    • Patience yields a rose.
    • English analogy: Good things come to those who wait.

U,Ú

  • Ugyanabban a csónakban evezünk.
    • Translation: We're in the same boat.


  • Új seprű jól seper.
    • A new broom sweeps well


  • Úgy hazudik, mintha könyvből olvasná.
    • He is lying like he's reading it from a book.

Ü,Ű

  • Ül a babérjain.
    • Sits on past achievements/laurels.

Meaning: Living off successes achieved in the past and having done nothing since.

V

  • Vér vízzé nem válik.
    • Translation: Blood can not turn into water.
    • English analogue: Blood is thicker than water.
  • Vak tyúk is talál szemet.
    • Translation: Even the blind chicken finds grains.
  • Vakok között a félszemű a király.
    • Translation: Among the blind, a person with one working eye is the king.
  • Vén kecske is megnyalja a sót.
    • Translation: Even the old goat will lick the salt.
  • Világos, mint a vakablak.
    • Clear as a blind window.
      • Meaning: It's not clear at all (said in a sarcastic way).


Z

Zs

  • Zsák a foltját megtalálja.
    • A sack will find it's patch.
  • Reszket, mint a kocsonya.
    • Shaking like jelly.
  • Kutyából nem lesz szalonna.
    • A dog won't turn into bacon.
    • English equivalent: A leopard cannot change its spots.


  • Nagy kő esett le a szívéről.
    • A big rock fell off his heart.
    • English equivalent: That was a huge weight off his chest.

meaning: One is relieved of one's cares.

  • 'Hátrább az agarakkal.
  • Back off with those greyhounds. (hunting analogy)
    • Note: some people in Hungary know this as "Hátrább az agyarakkal", meaning "fangs". Both images get the message across - meaning "back off, calm down"


  • Úgy táncol, ahogy más fütyül.
    • He is dancing like the other person whistles.
    • Meaning: He will do as the other person pleases.
  • Ismeri, mint a tenyerét
    • Knowing it (an object) like the palm of the hand
  • Bámul, mint borjú az új kapura.
    • Staring like a calf at the new gate. (because it does not recognise its own home if the gate does not look familiar)
    • Meaning: Staring in incomprehension/stupidity.
Van sütnivalója.
  • Has enough to fry.
    • meaning: He is clever/smart.
Kígyót melenget a keblén.
    • Nurtures a snake on his bosom/chest.
    • meaning: he/she trusts in people who don't deserve it
A kocka el van vetve.
  • The dice has been cast.
    • Meaning: Things are out of our hands now.
    • English equivalent: The die is cast.
Sötét, mint az éjszaka.
  • Dark as the night.
    • Used to describe either poor lighting or a person of limited intelligence.
Tűkön ül.
    • Translation: Sitting on needles.
    • meaning: Impatient, itching to act.

Original English: Sitting on pins and needles

Kiborul a bili.
    • The potty gets knocked over.
    • meaning: The dirty linen is out in the open./ One had enough and the inevitable argument is on.
Öntsünk tiszta vizet a pohárba.
  • Direct translation: Let's pour clear water into the glass.
    • Meaning: Let's straighten things out between us. Let's wipe the slate clean.
Betelt a pohár.
  • The glass has become full.
    • That's all one can take. I've had it.


Tiszta lappal indul.
  • Starts with a clean page.
    • A new beginning, fresh start.

Original English: Starts with a clean slate.

Van mit a tejbe aprítani.
    • Translation: To have enough to chop into the milk.
    • meaning: To be well off.
Az utolsókból lesznek az elsők.
  • The last ones shall become firsts.
Kosarat kap.
  • He gets a basket.
    • It is usually a boy or a man who is "given a basket" by a lady, which means that his romantic advances were refused.
Megtört a jég.
  • The ice has broken.
    • A breakthrouogh has been achieved. "We broke the ice."
Kilóg a kapa a szájából.
  • He/she has a hoe hanging from his mouth.
    • He/she is uneducated, ill-behaved, uncouth, declassé, or so "peasant-like" that he/she might as well be spitting up plowing instruments. In Hungarian, the word "peasant" (paraszt) and its derivatives are often used to describe uncouth or inappropriate behavior.
Akinek nem inge, ne vegye magára.
  • If it's not your shirt, don't put it on.
    • meaning: If you don't think it applies to you (critisism mainly), don't get hurt by it, don't take it personally.
    • English equivalent: If the cap fits, wear it.
Megél a jég színén is. (= A jég hátán is megél.)
  • He can live even on the surface of ice.
    • He can make a living under any circumstances.
Még ott a tojáshéj a fenekén.
  • Still has the eggshell on his bottom.
    • A beginner, a young one, inexperienced person.
Valami szöget üt a fejébe.
  • Something hit a nail in his head.
    • Think of something (usually an intriguing new idea).
A szem a lélek tükre.
  • The eyes are the mirror of one's soul.
Csupa csont és bőr.
  • skin and bones.
Kimutatja a foga fehérjét.
  • Showing the white of one's teeth.
    • English equivalent: Show your true colours.
Töke van a menyasszonynak.
  • Translation: The bride has balls!
    • We say it when a deception is uncovered. (a hungarian) "Something ain't stirring the Kool Aid."
Vért izzad.
  • Sweats blood.
Egy követ fújnak.
  • They blow the same stone.
    • meaning: they are alike in their intentions ( usually refers to bad intentions.)
Mindent tűvé tesz érte.
    • meaning: searches everywhere like he searches for a needle in the haystack.
A falnak is füle van.
  • Even walls have ears.
Nyakig ül a szarban.
  • Sits in shit up to his neck. Up shit creek without a paddle.
Csupa fül vagyok.
  • I'm all ears.


Szépre száll a füst, de bolond aki állja.
  • The smoke goes towards the beautiful, but they are a fool if they stand it.
    • At a campfire when the wind blows the smoke towards a person the first half of this saying used to be said to that person in an attempt to cheer him/her up, then the person replies with the second half and shifts position.
Madarat lehet vele fogatni.
  • You could make him catch birds.
    • Happy as can be/Happy as Larry.
Kicsi a bors, de erős.
  • Small is the peppercorn, but strong.
Edd meg, amit főztél.
  • Eat up what you cooked.


Ördög veri a feleségét.
  • The devil is hitting his wife.
    • refers to the rain. (Usually said when the sun is shining but the rain is falling at the same time.)
Közel ül a tűzhöz.
  • Sits too close to the fire.
Ez csak a jéghegy csúcsa.
  • It's only the tip of the iceberg.
Segget csinál a szájából.
    • Make an arse out of his mouth.
    • English version: Talking out of his arse.
    • With his talk, he made himself lose face among his peers. He betrayed weak characteristics in his own personality.
Vizet prédikál és bort iszik.
  • He preaches water and drinks wine.
    • Meaning: He is a hypocrite.
Csak egy csepp a tengerben.
  • A drop in the ocean.
A saját malmára hajtja a vizet.
  • He guides the water to his own mill.
    • He is out for himself.
Van vér a pucájában.
  • He/she stands up for him/herself, has "balls of steel."
Nem őriztünk együtt libát.
  • We didn't look after the same flock of geese together.
    • meaning: we are not that close friends.
Ki soknak barátja, soknak bolondja.
  • Friend of many, fooled by many.
    • Those who form many superficial relationships will be disappointed in the end.
Ami a szívén, az a száján.
  • What's on his heart, on his lips.
Fából vaskarika.
  • Iron wheel made of wood.
    • meaning: nonsense.
Még a bőre alatt is pénz van.
  • He has money under his skin.
    • He's loaded.
Egy tálból cseresznyéznek.
  • They're eating cherry from the same plate.
    • They are (acting like) good friends.
Nagy a mellénye.
  • He has a big waistcoat.
    • meaning: He's boastful or quite satisfied with himself.
Be van sózva.
  • He's been salted.
    • English equivalent: Peas in his pants. Ants in the pants.
Szegény, mint a templom egere.
  • As poor as the mice in the church. As poor as a church mouse.
    • Very poor.
Aki sokat markol, keveset fog.
  • He who grabs a lot, takes little.
Lop, mint a szarka.
  • Steals like a magpie. Sticky fingers.
Örül, mint majom a farkának.
  • He's happy as a monkey with his tail.
    • He's very happy about something (often in a silly way).
Eltűnik, mint szürke szamár a ködben.
  • Disappears like a grey donkey in the fog.
Ordít, mint a fába szorult féreg.
  • Howling like a grub stuck in a tree crack.
    • Note: This has changed meaning over time in a very interesting way. 'Féreg' (=grub) was originally 'toportyánféreg', an old word meaning 'wolf', and 'fa' meant a trap made of wood rather than just wood. So the original meaning was 'Howling like a wolf stuck in a trap', which makes a lot more sense than grubs in tree cracks!
Süket, mint az ágyú.
  • Deaf as a cannon.
    • English equivalent: Deaf as a post.
Forog a sírjában.
  • Turning in his grave.
Négy lába van a lónak, mégis megbotlik.
  • A horse has four legs, still he stumbles.
    • Meaning: Nobody is perfect.
Úgy áll rajta, mint tehénen a bugyogó/gatya.
    • It suits him like a pair of pants suit a cow.
    • Meaning: It looks terrible on him.
Nem esik le a karikagyűrű az ujjáról.
  • She won't lose her wedding ring. ( By doing a bit work.)
Száz szónak is egy a vége.
  • One hundred words end with but one.
    • English equivalent: To cut a long story short... Cut to the chase.
Egy húron pendülnek.
  • translation: they twang on the same string.
    • analog: birds of a feather.
Ronda, mint a bányaló.
  • Ugly as a mine-horse.
Olyan ronda, hogy ha lemegy a bányába, feljön a szén.
  • She is so ugly that if she goes down to the mine, the coal will come up on its own.
Halvány lila gőzöm sincs róla.
  • I haven't the slightest purple steam about it.
    • I haven't got a clue about it. I haven't the foggiest.
Nem jöttünk hívatlan, nem megyünk küldetlen.
  • We didn't come uninvited, we're not going unsent.
    • Meaning: If you invited us, you'll have to let us know when you want us to leave.
Kopogd le (a fán.)

Knock on wood

Éhes disznó makkal álmodik.
  • A hungry pig dreams of acorns.
    • Meaning: wishful thinking
Döglött disznóra minek rázárni az ólajtót?
  • why close the pen of a dead pig?
Felteszi az i-re a pontot.
  • Put the dot on the i.
    • Finish the job (perfectly).
Bolond lyukból bolond szél fúj.
Rázza a rongyot.
  • Shakes the rag.
    • meaning: Dances.
Aki szerencsés a játékban, az szerencsétlen a szerelemben.
  • He/She who is lucky in games, will be unlucky in love. and vice versa.
A körmére néz valakinek.
  • Looks over someone's nails.
    • Checks up on someone's performance.
Borsot tör valakinek az orra alá.
  • Grinds a peppercorn under someone's nose.
    • Causes nuisance, annoyance,etc. to one particular person.
Előbb jár a szája, mint az esze.
  • Speaks before he thinks.
A kákán is csomót keres.
    • meaning: He/She tries to find fault with everything.
Minden rosszban van valami jó.
  • There's good in every bad.
    • English equivalent: Every cloud has a silver lining.
Fogához veri a garast.
  • Taps the florin to his teeth.
    • He is stingy.
Kecskére bízza a káposztát.
  • Trusts a goat with a cabbage.
    • Trusts something to the wrong person.
Néz, mint Rozi a moziban.
  • Stares like Rosie at the movies.
    • Stare in wonder/disbelief.
Könnyebb átugrani, mint megkerülni.
  • Easier to spring over her than walk round her.
    • Insulting remark used for fat girls.
Az egyik tizenkilenc, a másik egy híján húsz.
  • One is nineteen, the other is one less than twenty.
    • Both of them are troublemakers. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Vizet hord a Dunába.
    • He is taking water to the Danube.
    • He is doing something pointless or superfluous. It's like bringing coal to Newcastle.
Tűt keres a szénakazalban.
  • He/She is looking for a needle in the haystack.
    • meaning: He/She is looking for something that is almost impossible to find.
Itt van a kutya elásva.
  • This is where the dog is buried.
    • This is the reason for the problem.This is where a solution must be found/can be found.
Rossz fát tesz a tűzre.
  • Puts bad wood on the fire.
    • meaning: Does something bad/wrong (especially children).
Ritka, mint a fehér holló.
  • Scarce as a white raven.
    • meaning: very rare
Hol van már a tavalyi hó.
  • Where is last year's snow?
    • Things change/move on.
Nagy lábon él.
  • lives on big feet.
    • Spends a lot.
Jó bornak nem kell cégér.
  • good wine needs no label.
    • If something is really good, it needs no advertising.
Kisujjamat nyújtom, és az egész karom kell.
  • I offer my little finger and you want my whole arm.
    • (speaks for itself!) I offer you an inch and you want a mile.
Egy kezemen meg tudom számolni.
  • I can count it on my one hand. I can count on one hand (how many times)...
Ez nekem kínai.
  • This is Chinese to me.
    • meaning: I do not understand it./ It is very difficult for me to understand.
    • English: This is Greek to me.


Néma gyereknek az anyja sem érti a szavát.
  • Even his own mother is unable to understand the words of a dumb ( in the original meaning of the word) / mute child.
    • meaning: If you don't say it, no one will know about your preferences. Don't keep quiet when you want something.
Alulról szagolja az ibolyát.
  • He/She is smelling the violet from under.
    • meaning: He/She is dead.

English original: Pushing up daisies

Olvas a sorok között.
  • Reads between the lines.
Bemerészkedik az oroszlán barlangjába.
  • Bravely goes into the lion's den.
Sokat akar a szarka, de nem bírja a farka.
  • The magpie wants a lot but cannot carry it.
    • English: He bites off more than he can chew.
Vak vezet világtalant.
  • The blind leads the sightless.
    • Both people are equally incompetent or unqualified.
Ettől nem változik a leányzó fekvése.
  • This does not change the position of the girl.
    • This makes no difference/does not alter the situation.
Más farkával veri a csalánt.
  • beats the nettle with another one's dick.
Nem tud vele zöld ágra vergődni.
  • Cannot struggle to a green branch with it.
    • Can't make it a success however he tries.
Bekapja a legyet.
  • Takes the fly.
    • Takes the bait.
Makacs, mint az öszvér.
  • Stubborn as an ass.
    • meaning: very stubborn
Holnap is lesz nap.
  • There will be a day tomorrow.
    • English equivalent: Tomorrow is a new day.
Vaj van a füle mögött.
  • There's butter behind his ears.
    • He is guilty of something.
Nem különb a Deákné vásznánál.
  • He is no different from the linen of Mrs. Deák.
    • Meaning: He is no better than the others, even though he claims to be.

Bámul, mint a vett malac. Translation: He stares like the bought swine.