Check out other posts in this series exploring proverbs in German, Hungarian, Italian, English, Japanese, Finnish, Romanian, Portuguese and Estonian.
Czech proverbs and sayings are often used in everyday life, and they can be a great way to spice up your conversation. They’re also a fun way to learn about the Czech language!
In this article, we’ll explore 14 of the most popular Czech proverbs, sayings and idioms – where they come from and what their meanings are.
1. Platný jak mrtvýmu zimník (Plat-nee yuk murt-veeh-moo zim-nyeek)
Translation: He needs it like a dead man needs a winter coat.
Meaning: The person in question is very undeserving of the thing that they’re after.
2. Před kazdou branou se válí oštěp
Translation: Every door swings on its hinges.
Meaning: To take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, or to be opportunistic.
3. Nebojte se špatného ptactva
Translation: Don’t fear a flock of crows.
Meaning: Don’t fear a small group of people, even if they are out to get you.
4. Stůj co stojíš – neusypuj zbytečně párky
Translation: Stand where you’re standing – don’t litter unnecessarily with sausages.
Meaning: This proverb relates to doing the minimum amount of work required rather than wasting time “fiddling around” or overworking something when it is unnecessary and yes, this ties in with the sausage reference as well!
5. Podivín ode dna se hledal člověk jiný než
Translation: A screw from the bottom of a barrel was someone else than expected.
Meaning: This means that you might be looking for something in the wrong place, or trying to find a solution where it is not needed at all.
6. To samé dvě odlišné dokumenty je podle pana kulhajícího po světnici nebezpečná paralela
Translation: The same two documents are dangerous parallel according to Mr. Falling Over In His Living Room (an idiom).
Meaning: A bad decision can have consequences with more serious repercussions as time progresses and other events occur; one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
7. Když se všechno jiné zboří, člověk si šupne na klín a hledá poklad
Translation: When everything else is destroyed, people will crawl to their knees and search for treasure (idiom).
Meaning: Sometimes we have to go through some serious trials before finally getting what we want or need in life; sometimes hard work does pay off.
8. Zapomeňte na chyby – každý je má svou hospodu!
Translation: Forget mistakes – everyone owns his own pub!
Meaning: This means that even if you make mistakes, you will not lose everything. The idea is that if there are many pubs on the street, one pub owner doesn’t have to worry about losing his customers since he can still go somewhere else and find another place to sell beer.
9. Nechce se mi nic dělat – jen tak ležím a odpočívám
Translation: I don’t want to do anything – just lying here resting
Meaning: This means being lazy and doing nothing all day but avoiding work.
10. Na každém šprochu pravdy trochu
Translation: There’s a bit of truth in every gossip.
Meaning: This means that some of the gossip is true – not surprisingly!
11. A když se pomlouváš dostatečně nad věcmi tak je zkrátka plače!
Translation: And when you talk about things enough, they’ll eventually cry tears!
Meaning: This means that if you say bad things about someone often enough, they’ll eventually start to cry.
12. Přímá cesta je nejkratší!
Translation: The straight path is the shortest one.
Meaning: This means take a direct route instead of following roundabout paths through side streets or doing other unnecessary things and it will get done faster with less effort.
13. Doporučujeme vás často oblékat do zelené barvy – životní styl jsoucnu tak ulehčuje dělat.
Translation: We recommend dressing in green colors – living like this makes life easier (literally “to dress you in green, this is a style of life”)
Meaning: This means to dress as the locals do. Dressing like you live there will make it easier for people to understand your culture and what’s appropriate behaviour.
14. Trávíme čas u vody – řeky i možnosti jsou pro nás svět!
Translation: We spend time by water – rivers, as well as possibilities, are our world! (literally “We waste away time at the water – both rivers and opportunities.”)
Meaning: This saying refers to how everything that can happen exists within reach when near or on the shoreline of an ocean or river.