Quiz - Idioms

An idiom is a group of words which has been established by usage. It has a meaning that is not deducible from looking at the individual words. Sounds too serious? Well, don’t throw in the towel, yet, as we all use them on a daily basis. In some countries, however, they don’t throw in their towels, but their rifles into the thicket, or their gloves on the table.

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Correct answers

  1. In Czech, we say that a clever man/woman “will not get lost in the world”. In one country, they say that “a clever man/woman will not get lost behind a cart” (Han/hun er ikke tabt bag en vogn). Where is that?
    a/ Denmark
    b/ The Netherlands
    c/ Estonia
    correct answer: a/
  2. When the time comes to quit beating around the bush and broach a difficult topic, the speakers of one language “lift a cat onto the table” (nostaa kissa pöydälle). Are these?
    a/ the Poles
    b/ the Finns
    c/ Luxembourgers
    correct answer: b/ The Finns, who say “nostaa kissa pöydälle”, which literally means “to pick up the cat on the table”
  3. When referring to a pointless activity, Czechs speak about carrying wood to a forest, while English speakers would probably say something about “carrying coals to Newcastle”. What pointless activity uses the matching idiom in Dutch (Water naar de zee dragen)?
    a/ carrying sand to the desert
    b/ carrying flour to the mill
    c/ carrying water to the sea
    correct answer: c/ the Dutch saying “Water naar de zee dragen” literally means "to carry water into the sea”.
  4. Many nations think that it is wiser to wait before making an important decision. Czechs and Germans say that the morning is wiser than the evening. A phrase in Portuguese suggests the same but does so by recommending a consultation with a specific item (Não faças nada sem consultar a almofada). Which one?
    a/ a bed
    b/ a duvet
    c/ a pillow
    correct answer: c/ The Portuguese saying “Não faças nada sem consultar a almofada” literally means “to do nothing without consulting the pillow beforehand”.
  5. Annoying people get on our nerves. In German, however, they get on something else entirely (Du gehst mir auf den Keks). What exactly?
    a/ one’s cookie
    b/ one’s back
    c/ one’s neck
    correct answer: a/ the German saying "Du gehst mir auf den Keks" literally means "You're stepping on my cookie”.
  6. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. In Estonia, they can’t teach one animal to dance (Vana karu tantsima ei õpi). Which one?
    a/ a frog
    b/ a bear
    c/ a horse
    correct answer: b/ The Estonian saying “Vana karu tantsima ei õpi” literally means “The old bear will not learn to dance”.
  7. A hungry man is not picky about his culinary choices. In Czech we say that hunger is the best cook. In Swedish, however, the hunger is bettered by something else (Hungern är bästa kryddan). What is this?
    a/ a sauce
    b/ a waiter
    c/ a spice
    correct answer: c/ The Swedish saying “Hungern är bästa kryddan” literally means “Hunger is the best spice”.
  8. Far away hills are greener, or as we say in Czech, far away grass is greener. Where do they say that far away cows have longer horns (Bíonn adharca fada ar na ba thar lear)?
    a/ Ireland
    b/ Germany
    c/ Spain
    correct answer: a/ the Irish saying “Bíonn adharca fada ar na ba thar lear” literally means “Far-away cows have long(er) horns”.
  9. When you are involved in something, the Italians say that you have your hands in something (avere le mani in pasta). Where exactly?
    a/ a pizza
    b/ dough
    c/ tomato puree
    correct answer: b/ the Italian phrase “avere le mani in pasta” literally means “to have your hands in dough”.
  10. Home sweet home. In many languages, people have a phrase to express one's pleasure, or relief, at being in one's own home. Where do they say “Povsod je lepo, doma je najlepše“?
    a/ Slovenia
    b/ Lithuania
    c/ Slovakia
    correct answer: a/ The Slovenian saying “Povsod je lepo, a doma je najlepše” literally means “Everywhere is beautiful, but the most beautiful is home”.