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Funny and Quirky Ukrainian Idioms

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Languages often reflect the humor and wit of their cultures. Ukrainian is no exception, offering a collection of unique idioms that may sound outright bizarre to a non-native speaker. Here are some funny and quirky Ukrainian idioms to tickle your linguistic fancy.

Вчити когось розуму – To teach someone how to be smart. This idiom is used when someone is trying to give advice or educate someone who perhaps doesn’t want it or believes they already know everything.
Не треба мені вчити розуму, я сам знаю, що робити. – Don’t try to teach me how to be smart, I know what I’m doing.

Не моя собака (собача справа) – “Not my dog,” but figuratively it implies it’s not my business or problem.
Нехай вирішують, не моя собака. – Let them resolve it, it’s not my business.

Лити воду на чиїсь млини – To pour water on someone’s mills. It suggests that you’re inadvertently or deliberately doing something that benefits someone else.
Не говори йому про свій план, будеш лити воду на його млини. – Don’t tell him about your plan, you’ll be benefiting his aims.

Ходити, як кіт навколо каші – To walk like a cat around porridge, which means to beat around the bush or avoid getting to the point.
Досить ходити як кіт навколо каші, скажи, що сталося. – Stop beating around the bush and tell me what happened.

Щось тут нечисто – There’s something fishy here. This phrase expresses suspicion that something is wrong or dishonest.
Щось тут нечисто, все занадто легко виходить. – There’s something fishy here; everything is turning out too easily.

Візьми себе в руки – Take yourself in your hands. It means to get a grip on yourself or to control your emotions.
Тобі треба взяти себе в руки, інакше все піде шкереберть. – You need to get a grip on yourself, or else everything will go downhill.

Казати за очі – To speak behind someone’s back, meaning to talk about someone without them knowing, often in a negative way.
Не люблю, коли люди кажуть за очі; це нечесно. – I don’t like it when people talk behind someone’s back; it’s unfair.

Тримати кулаки – To hold fists, equivalent to keep your fingers crossed, wishing good luck for someone.
Тримаю за тебе кулаки, сподіваюсь, ти виграєш. – I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, hoping you’ll win.

Не варити з того горох – “Not to cook peas out of it” means not to make a big deal out of something.
Не треба з того горох варити, просто виправ це помилку. – Don’t make a big deal out of it, just correct the mistake.

Скачуть, як з маківки – To jump off from a poppy, which means someone is speaking without making much sense or babbling.
Він говорить, як з маківки, нічого не можна зрозуміти. – He’s babbling, you can’t understand anything.

Understanding these idiomatic expressions offers a glimpse into the soul of Ukrainian humor, providing a richer sense of the language’s nuances. When learning Ukrainian, it’s important to immerse in the culture and the witty side of the language that can often lighten up everyday conversations.

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