Animal idioms

Animal idioms illustrated and translated to Catalan

Ants in one’s pants

(to) be restless, uneasy. Catalan: un sac de nervis (literally, a bag of nerves).

Red herring

A misleading clue or piece of information. Catalan: pista falsa (literally, false clue).

(the) birds and the bees

Sex education. Catalan: la cigonya (literally, the stork)

White elephant

An unwated or annoying possession. Catalan: Regal enverinat (literally, poisoned gift)

… And while we’re at it, some jokes about elephants:

What did the elephant say to a naked man?
Hey that’s cute but can you breath through it?
What’s grey, stands in a river when it rains and doesn’t get wet?
An elephant with an umbrella!
Why does an elephant wear sneakers?
So that he can sneak up on mice!

Cat nap

A short sleep. Catalan: fer una becaina (literally, to take a nap)

As happy as a clam

Very happy. Catalan: content com un gínjol (literally, happy as a jujube).

Fishy

Odd, strange, suspicious. Catalan: (hi ha) gat amagat (literally, there’s a hidden cat here).

While we’re at it, a fish joke:

What did the fish say when he posted bail? “I’m off the hook!”

One trick pony

Someone who has only one ability or good quality . Catalan: there is no equivalent, the literal translation is Poni d’un sol truc.

A different kettle of fish

A completely different thing, topic or subject (very similar to a horse of a different colour). Catalan: figues d’un altre paner (literally, figs from another pannier or basket)

A horse of a different color

A completely different thing, topic or subject (very similar to a different kettle of fish). Catalan: figues d’un altre paner (literally, figs from another pannier or basket).

A guinea pig

Someone used as part of an experiment or trial. Catalan: conillet d’indies)

While we are are it, here is a joke about guinea pigs…

Q: When do guinea pigs run away from rain? A: When its raining cats and dogs!

Weasel out

(to) abandon their responsibility or commitment in a way that is sneaky or cowardly. Catalan: escaquejar-se (colloquial, literally, to cop out).

While we are at it, here is a joke about weasels:

A 13 year old weasel walks into a bar and approaches the counter. The bartender immediately notices the underage weasel.
“Sir, you look extremely young. I can’t serve you even a single beer.”
“Oh c’mon. You can’t just slide me one?”
“Can’t and will not serve to anyone under age.”
“Fine. Well what other things do you have?”
“Well for non-alcoholics I have tap water and bottled water, I have coffee, and I have pop. Which would you like?”
“Pop.” Goes the weasel.

Wouldn’t hurt a fly

A very peaceful and non-violent person. Catalan: No li faria mal a una mosca (literally, wouldn’t hurt a fly).

While we’re at it, here is two jokes about flies:

What is the difference between a fly and a bird? A bird can fly but a fly can’t bird!

What do you call a fly that is ill? Answer: The flew

Mad as a hornet

Extremely angry or upset. Catalan: empipat com una mona (angry as a monkey).

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

Also Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! Used to express complete surprise, amazement or disbelief . Catalan: N’hi ha per a llogar-hi cadires (literally, there is to rent chairs!) or Me’n faig creus (literally, I make myself crosses).

A cock-and-bull story

An exaggerated or falsified story or explanation. Catalan: un sopar de duro (literally, a one coin dinner).

Recommended posts

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

Idioms, sayings, fascinating language facts… Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in other languages

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle meaning

The idiom monkey’s uncle is used to express astonishment, complete surprise or disbelief. A synonymous expression is It’s beyond belief! It can also be used to point out the infeasability of a situation, in the same way that “when pigs fly” is used.

Example

— Hey dude, there is a news article about a dog reciting “To be or not to be”!
— Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

“The government wants to improve public services,” said Boris. “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” said Jeremy, “didn’t they just slash the social services budget in half?”

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in Catalan

There is a widespread idiom in Catalan which reads N’hi ha per a llogar-hi cadires! (literally, ‘We could even rent chairs!’) which is also used to express astonishment, complete surprise or disbelief. It can also be used to point out the infeasibility of a situation, in the same way that ‘(well) I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!’ is used in English.

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in French

In French there are several equivalent expressions to ‘(well) I’ll be a monkey’s uncle’ , for example, the most emblematic and international of all: ‘Oh la la!’ , which usually has rather positive connotations. There’s also C’est étonnant! (It’s incredible!), Je n’en reviens pas! (I can’t believe it!), J’en suis resté bouche bée (I’m speechless), Tu plaisantes! (literally, C’mon! You can’t be serious) … and one that we love:  Mais qu’est ce que c’est que ça! (literally, ‘but what is it!’), Which usually has an angry connotation. Finally, we can also use the expression Mince alors (which has the approximate meaning of (upon) my word!).

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in German

To express surprise in German, there is the curious idiom Ich glaub mich knutscht ein Elch! (Literally, I think an elk is kissing me!. And the interjection” Ach, nee! “(Literally,” Oh, come on!” ). * An elk is a ruminant mammal similar to a deer.

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in Portuguese

In Portuguese, to express surprise in the face of something unexpected, there is a very curious expression, one of those idioms which translated literally sounds quite surrealistic: Macacos me mordam! (Literally, May macaques bite me!). Nevertheless, it uses monkeys, just like in English.

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle in Spanish

Here, surely, a never-ending debate could be opened, but the closest interjection to (Well) I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! in Spanish is ¡Lo que hay que ver! or Hay que ver! . There’s also ¡Madre mía! (literally My mother!) Since it can express surprise, disappointment or displeasure. Although in a more colloquial record, there is also another possibility that we particulary love: Cágate lorito! (literally, Shit yourself little parrot!) . In Spanish we would also have other expressions of surprise in the presence of something unexpected, such as ¡Que me parta un rayo! (literlly, May a beam break me in two!).

Nuts ~ Tocat del Bolet is a blog that aims to promote and share Catalan language and culture throughout its most typical expressions, in a fun and informative way.

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