Learning a new language is like going on an adventure: you might get lost in a magical maze, you might end up having to overcome challenge after challenge the size of giant angry dragons, but there’s always a chestful of rewards at the end. In this case, inside the treasure chest lies the satisfaction that you’ve mastered another gorgeous language—like Lithuanian.

The oldest Indo-European language that’s still being spoken today and a source of pride for Lithuanians the world over, Lithuanian is chock-full of fun little idioms, neat expressions, and metaphorical sayings that spice everything up with their Baltic charm. But here’s the thing: they sound incredibly weird when translated word for word and they’re bound to make you giggle.

Below, you’ll find some of the funniest Lithuanian expressions translated into English by the Matador Network. Upvote the ones that brought a smile to your face and we’d absolutely love to hear all about the most hilarious sayings in your native language if English isn’t your first, dear Pandas! Bored Panda reached out to a philologist from Lithuania to get to know idioms and expressions, as well as how they're usually translated between languages, a bit better. So be sure to read on for her full insights.

#1

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Ms.M.
Community Member
1 year ago

*adds to vocabulary*

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#2

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Analyn Lahr
Community Member
1 year ago

This reminds me of my 10th grade English teacher. We couldn't have parties at my high school so he gave us "cumulative activities for positive reinforcement."

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#3

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Samuel Holmström
Community Member
1 year ago

Make sense to me. It is used that way for example for the word twisted or crooked. in ancient Greek we can see that the word for perverted and crooked are the same, Scoliosis. So an old language like Lithuania having that as an expression is not a surprise.

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The Lithuania-based language expert, who preferred to remain anonymous but whose identity is known to Bored Panda, explained that while it's difficult to say how any single saying came about, the odds are that somebody started using a specific turn of phrase and it enrooted itself in the language over time. "It's not enough to study just the language: you need to understand the culture, history, and folklore. It's impossible to find the sources of some of these idioms at all because they're ancient phrases," she said.

The expert pointed out that usually we never translate idioms word for word; we look for equivalents. For instance, the English version might be "put yourself in someone's shoes," but the Lithuanian equivalent is "įsijausk į kito kailį" ("take on someone else's fur"). The essence of sayings essentially the same; what differs is how they're expressed.

#4

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Equine_Ravenclaw_Directioner
Community Member
1 year ago

Ooh, I like this one.

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#5

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

Okay 😂😂

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#6

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PenitentEyeball
Community Member
1 year ago

Shlurp shlurp

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According to the philologist, we don't tend to notice how often we use idioms in our daily lives because they "make up a single unit of meaning" in our "mental lexicon" and aren't divided up into single words. In other words, we either use the entire idiom or we don't, there is no in-between. What's more, the reason why we don't track our use of idioms is the very same reason we don't think about how many times a day we use nouns or verbs: it's exhausting and unnecessary. We don't tend to think deeply about the things that we use to operate in our daily lives, as they're a part of us and hard to notice.

Though you'd think that a language is all the richer for having more idioms, the expert shared her opinion that this might not be the case. "From a linguistic perspective, all languages are equally rich. Of course, while you're translating texts, you might find some idioms particularly funny. Furthermore, they can sometimes have elements of folklore in them that can act as a gateway toward a deeper understanding of the culture."

Bored Panda was interested to find out which Lithuanian idioms the philologist personally found to be the funniest. In her opinion, "devintas vanduo nuo kisieliaus" ("the ninth water from the pap" aka a distant family relation) and "už nosies vedžioti" ("lead by the nose" aka lead someone on) are worth a special mention. However, as she says, "all idioms are interesting and funny if you can imagine them in your mind."

#7

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lenniee
Community Member
1 year ago

Oooh that's an interesting one

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#8

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

That one is the weirdest so far. 🤔

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#9

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Mere Cat
Community Member
1 year ago

In Finnish, they show you "where the chicken pees from"

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Idioms are artistic expressions that are peculiar and can’t be understood from the individual meanings of their elements. In short, they rely very heavily on metaphors, playfulness, and creativity to put across a point. Without knowing the language, culture, and context, you’d be lost… in translation (sorry, the joke was there—I had to make it).

While people have been speaking Lithuanian in one form or another for ages and ages, Lithuanian as a literary language has only existed since the start of the 16th century, with the translations of the Lord’s Prayer, the Ave Maria, and the Nicene creed being the earliest documents.

#10

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cassiushumanmother
Community Member
1 year ago

That's make sense, at the beginings beers were made out of bread so it was literally liquid bread.

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#11

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Karin
Community Member
1 year ago

"Pull the wool over your eyes." Aren't languages fascinating!

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#12

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Cassie
Community Member
1 year ago

Beating around the bush! I like the imagery of wrapping words in cotton wool!

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Lithuanians are generally a humble people and you might mistake them for Finns at first glance. That is, unless you mention basketball (their national team nearly thrashed the US at the 2000 Olympics!) or their language.

Any Lithuanian worth their salt will immediately start bragging, (subtly at first, more overtly once they warm up) about how their language is the oldest on Planet Earth. And while several different languages and dialects can make that claim, you can safely say that Lithuanian ranks among the most ancient ones still in use today. The similarities to Sanskrit are absolutely amazing if you’ve ever had the pleasure of looking through dictionaries from both languages.

One of the most influential French linguists, Antoine Meillet, stated that “anyone wishing to hear how Indo-Europeans spoke should come and listen to a Lithuanian peasant,” and Lithuanians have been quoting him pretty much every chance they get.

#13

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

In Greece when somebody leaves the door open the others go "Were you born in a boat?"

M O'Connell
Community Member
1 year ago

In the US we ask if they were born in a barn :)

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Woets
Community Member
1 year ago

In Dutch: "were you born in a church?" (Most of the time followed with the well known response: "No, in a hospital with swing doors")

Leeh Colorada
Community Member
1 year ago

Brazil: you have a long tail

Anna Banana
Community Member
1 year ago

This was unexpected... I love how different it is from all the others here!

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Gica
Community Member
1 year ago

In Bulgaria : Do you live in a cave?

Lejla Kollár
Community Member
1 year ago

in Hungary too :)

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Vladislav Jeřábek
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

In Czech Republic we say. Do you have a n****r behind your ass. For real. And sorry, I don't wanna spread hate here, but it's just true

Toni Convens
Community Member
1 year ago

In belgium we ask ” were you born in a church? ”

Whatshername
Community Member
1 year ago

Same in The Netherlands :)

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pa3ciac
Community Member
1 year ago

In Croatia, at least on the coast , we say like Greeks: "Were you born in a boat?"

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago

In English, it's "born in a barn".

Kaisa
Community Member
1 year ago

same in estonian

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Nubis Knight
Community Member
1 year ago

In Germany you may get asked if there are sacks hanging before your doors at home. (Habt ihr daheim Säck vor den Türen?)

Laura Nicole
Community Member
1 year ago

Australia. "Were you born in a tent" is what my mum would say. Another thing I remember her saying if we were in front of the TV "you're a pain but not a pane of glass"

Tam illo
Community Member
1 year ago

In austria, they ask you, if you have curtains instead of doors

Forty-Two
Community Member
1 year ago

in the US it's 'raised in a barn'

Peter Bear
Community Member
1 year ago

In the US, it's 'born in a barn'!

El Dee
Community Member
1 year ago

Born in a Barn here..

Paizleypie
Community Member
1 year ago

In the US you were born in a barn.

i'll sleep when im dead
Community Member
12 months ago

In Ireland it's either 'Were you born in a barn?' or 'Were you born in a palace with self-closing doors?'

Krasi Karov
Community Member
1 year ago

In Bulgaria we say that he is born in a cave.

Plamena Papazova
Community Member
1 year ago

In Bulgaria is "Were you born in a cave?"

Ingeborg Spandaw
Community Member
1 year ago

In the Netherlands it would be: Were you born in a church?

Mdx Graziellski
Community Member
1 year ago

In Poland we ask does someone lives in a jar?

José Carlos Costa
Community Member
1 year ago

In Portugal we say "Tens o rabo comprido?" = Do you have a long tail?

Liesma Zariņa
Community Member
1 year ago

In Latvia too.

Markus Holstein
Community Member
1 year ago

German: "Were you raised in a subway?"

Sofiia Melnikova
Community Member
1 year ago

There's a similar saying in Russian (my grandmother uses it a lot)

Sofie
Community Member
1 year ago

In Sweden some people ask if someone was born in the hallway (not sure about the translation) if you seem a little stupid, or joke that a person has previously been dropped behind the wagon if they seem clueless 🤔

TiaMa
Community Member
1 year ago

Slovakia: "You use céčka at your home?" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9%C4%8Dka 6307cecka8...9a-png.jpg 6307cecka8-670x377-606078e6ce49a-png.jpg

Hugh Cookson
Community Member
1 year ago

Born in a barn in the UK - I actually was born in a barn, as an aside .....

Vladimíra Matejová
Community Member
1 year ago

in Slovakia we say Do you live in a cave / church?

Elena Vasss
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

In Bulgarian - "Do you live in a cave/woods?"

Magda Kočičková
Community Member
1 year ago

We ask Have you got slaves at home?

Elisabeth Chai
Community Member
1 year ago

In Italy they ask "were you born in the Colosseum?"

Ania Barrett
Community Member
1 year ago

In Polish: to be born in a pigsty (urodzić się w chlewie)

Let’s All Just Try And Be Decent
Community Member
1 year ago

In the UK it's "were you born in a barn" but also alternated with "were you raised in a barn"

Kateryna
Community Member
1 year ago

Or "an elevator" in Ukrainian

Analyn Lahr
Community Member
1 year ago

"Were you raised in a barn?" Is one I've heard in the US.

Berit-Bärbel Rebane
Community Member
1 year ago

Estonians have the same :).

Mark Howell
Community Member
1 year ago

In northern England it's 'wert born inth barn', "were you born in the barn"

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#14

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HooowlAtTheMoon
Community Member
1 year ago

Sounds like me telling people I didn't do something, "I didn't ABANDON them, no, I just left them on the ice."

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#15

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Leeh Colorada
Community Member
1 year ago

In portuguese, we say it is "in d**k's house"

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#16

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cassiushumanmother
Community Member
1 year ago

In France we have the same trouble with our eyeballs but not out of surprise but anger.

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#17

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Mere Cat
Community Member
1 year ago

This is in Finnish, too. Except the meaning is "selfish"

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#18

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

Well, goats are known as stubborn animals so it makes sence.

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#19

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Karin
Community Member
1 year ago

I "get the gist" of what you're saying.

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#20

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

Oo, my fantasy comes off all the time 😂😂

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#21

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Natalia
Community Member
1 year ago

Like "out of nowhere" in Greek means with no reason rather than suddenly.

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#22

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Forty-Two
Community Member
1 year ago

I rolled some muscles at the gym today

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#23

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cassiushumanmother
Community Member
1 year ago

In France we says "to apply make up with a trowel" or "she wear make up like a stolen car".

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#24

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Anni
Community Member
1 year ago

At least once both those partners find out about the other...

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#25

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Iggy
Community Member
1 year ago

Ewwwww! :-D

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#26

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Darius Ruplėnas
Community Member
1 year ago

This comment has been deleted.

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