Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Stop translating your idioms!

Today we’ll be talking about some of the dangers of translating “false friends.”  These are words that sound the same between two different languages, but aren’t.

We’ll also talk about translating idioms.  They can cause huge problems!

Many big businesses have made big mistakes translating English idioms into foreign languages. Here are two examples:

  • “Turn it loose” or “Let loose”: in English, this means “to completely relax”. A direct translation of this idiom into Spanish means “to suffer from diarrhea”!
  • “Finger-licking good”: in English, this means “delicious”. A direct translation into Chinese means “Eat your fingers off”!

Here are many more examples.


It is impossible to directly translate idioms, so don’t try!  But if you do make this mistake, it’s okay to laugh!

Have you made any mistakes using “false friends” or translating idioms? 

Tell us how in the comments below! 

Test Your English Level Now

Free English Quiz

Take this simple quiz and find out your English level.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)