People & Stories

Can you guess which countries these hilarious sayings come from?

If language is a reflection of a country’s culture, then every culture seems to have its own hilarious sayings. From witty one-liners to funny proverbs, these linguistic gems reflect the history and values of a countries around the world. Put your cultural knowledge to the test and try to guess which countries these hilarious sayings and funny phrases come from! Answers are at the bottom – no peeking!

1. You can’t dance at two weddings

couple dancing at wedding

Literally, this means you can’t be at two places at once. In a more figurative sense, the locals of this country use it to say you can’t take up two large commitments at once. Want to be a world-class opera singer and a premier league footballer? Sorry, you can’t dance at two weddings.

2. To buy a cat in a sack

Let’s say you buy something new. You’re excited, and rush home to revel in your new purchase. Your heart sinks; it’s broken. This is the consequence of not heeding the wise warning of this phrase, which means to buy something without inspecting it first.

We think you’ll like: The 14 most useful travel tips and phrases to know before visiting Japan

3. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs

This one may be more familiar. This means to get a result, you’ll have to take some decisive action to get there. We’ll give you a clue on this one: this first came from a military leader in the 1700s, when asked about the many deaths he had caused. He replied with this phrase, and thus it entered the national phraseology.

4. To slide in on a shrimp sandwich

This is one of our favourite hilarious sayings, and it means someone didn’t work for what they have. We’ll give you another clue here: this idiom originates from a country where shrimp was considered a luxury food, which is why the phrase suggests someone achieved success without putting in the work.

We think you’ll like: The biggest 2023 travel trend is… going against the trend. Here’s 6 unusual ideas for where to go

5. To bring owls to Athens

athens columns

This saying is used to describe an unnecessary or redundant action, like ‘taking coals to Newcastle’. You probably don’t need any other clues to guess where this one’s from.

6. God gives nuts to the man with no teeth

One of the many funny phrases that comment on the inherent irony of life? Or an observation on the lack of good dental care? You decide.

We think you’ll like: How to bag seats at London’s top theaters on a budget

7. Not my circus, not my monkey

shocked baby monkey

Though a bit more longwinded than simply saying ‘not my problem’, its a lot more fun and smoothly rolls off the tongue. One of our favorite hilarious sayings by far.

We think you’ll like: She who dares: the female solo travellers seeking adventure

8. To feed the donkey sponge cake

Why should we have to settle for boring old turnips while the donkey enjoys all the cake? In a playful variation of the biblical advice regarding pearls and swine, this phrase means we shouldn’t offer special treatment to people who don’t deserve it.

9.  If you do not enter the tiger’s cave, you won’t catch its cub

You could think of this like ‘fortune favors the bold’, or ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Though a lot more visual, this phrase follows the same sentiment: you won’t achieve anything unless you take some risks. 

We think you’ll like: Celebration vacations: making milestone memories with Trafalgar

10. If it’s a goose, it should be fat

Whatever you’re doing, experience it to the fullest.

fat goose


  1. Israel (a Yiddish phrase) 
  2. Germany – ‘die katze im sack kaufen’, but it also exists in Latvian, Polish, Norwegian, and Swedish!
  3. France – from François de Charette: ‘on ne saurait faire d’omelette sans casser des œufs’
  4. Sweden – ‘Att glida in på en räkmack
  5. Greece – It humorously suggests bringing owls, which were on the Athenian silver coins, to Athens. Taking these coins where they were already abundant indicated a futile or pointless endeavor.
  6. Arabia – this is an old Arabic saying
  7. Poland – ‘Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy
  8. Portugal – ‘Alimentar um burro a pão-de-ló’
  9. Japan – ‘虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず’
  10. Hungary – ‘Ha lúd, legyen kövér’
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Want to hear more from us?

Sign up to receive inspiring travel articles, offers & news

"*" indicates required fields

Receive Monthly Emails*
Receive All Brand Communications
Terms and Cons*
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title