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»Tih kot miška« (as silent as a mouse), »priden kot čebela« (as busy as a bee) – sound familiar to you? These are called idioms, idiomi or frazemi in Slovenian. Idioms are phrases that usually consist of more words which have figurative meaning. They appear in all languages and using them helps us enrich our vocabulary.

Slovenian has some interesting and comic idioms, some of them are very similar to English ones, too. I like in particular that ones with animals. Slovenian is not so »rich« regarding vocabulary in comparison to English and other languages which are spoken by millions of people, but has an impressive amount of idioms, which are surprisingly very often used in everyday conversation.

The language immediately sounds better and enriched when speaking by using idioms. If you are learning Slovenian, try to learn some idioms, too, you’ll definitely impress your Slovenian friends. I prepared a list of Slovenian idioms which are commonly used, and in the table below you will also find a literal translation from Slovenian into English and a real meaning of an idiom. Read just Slovenian idioms and literal translations in English, and try to guess a real meaning then. It can be funny, and maybe you will be astonished.


Maček v žaklju

našpičiti ušesa to prick up one’s ears to start to listen carefully
skočiti si v lase to jump in each other’s hair to fight (to argue), to contradict
iskati dlako v jajcu to search for a hair in the egg to exaggerate in demands
iti po gobe to go to pick mushrooms to decay, to fall through, to go awry
krasti bogu čas to steal a god’s time to laze
iti rakom žvižgat to go whistling to the crab to die, to fall through, to decay
kot slon v trgovini s porcelanom like an elepfant in a china shop to be clumsy
španska vas a Spanish village unknown field
vedeti kam pes taco moli to know where a dog puts its paw in to know what a purpose of speaking is
lagati kot pes teče to lie as a dog runs to lie often, without any restraints
režati se kot pečen maček to grin like a roast cat to laugh very much
delati iz muhe slona to make an elephant out of a fly to exaggerate a lot because of a trifle
hoditi spat s kurami to go to sleep with chickens to go to bed early
počutiti se kot riba na suhem to feel like a fish out of water to feel uncomfortable, badly
iskati iglo v senu to look for a needle in a haysteak to do something with a little hope for results
živeti kot ptiček na veji to live like a birdie on a branch to live freely, carefree
spati kot zajec to sleep like a rabbit to sleep lightly
biti kot pes in mačka to be like a dog and cat to hate each other, to argue
kupiti mačka v žaklju to buy a cat in a sack to deal for something with unconfirmed origin
hoditi kakor mačka okoli vrele kaše to walk like a cat around a boiling pulp not to tell the fact
ubiti dve muhi na en mah to kill two flies at one go to solve two problems with one act
zamižati na eno oko to close one eye to overlook somebody’s unacceptable act
biti na konju to be on a horse to succeed, to achieve a goal
črno na belem in black and white written on a paper, clearly, with a proof

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