The Greeks Have a Saying For it

By Jonathan Carr and Paul Anastasi
Athens News

May your mouth be sanctified (Να αγιαει το στομα σου - Na agiasei to stoma sou)

Meaning: well-said; hear, hear

The divinity of saints has always loomed large over the Greeks' spiritual life. So, it would seem natural that when something is uttered that stands out from the usual cant and hypocrisy, especially when an injustice is pointed out, the hearer would invoke saintly blessings upon the speaker of truth.

A variation on the same theme is from your mouth to the ears of God (απσ το στσμα σου Θεου τ'αυτι - apo to stoma sou stou Theou t'afti), voicing a devout wish that something uttered might come to pass.

Making a belly (Κανω χοιλια - Kano koilia)

Meaning: flagging in interest

The phrase is used most often to describe a film or play or book whose interest begins to wane at some point in the middle. The basic image is that of a clothesline that makes a curve when weighed down by clothes. It could also have something to do with the belly that many men acquire in middle age as their life loses the plot somewhere.

Making black eyes (Κανω μαυςα ματια - Kana mavra matia)

Meaning: missing someone from not having seen them for a long time

We see here that the term "black eye" in Greek is very different from its English meaning! In the context of the sombre overtones that the colour black carries in the psyche, a black eye is an eye that has mourned (figuratively "worn black") the long absence of some person, such as a lover or fond relative.

Like the iris of the eye (Σαν χοςη οφθαλμου - San kori ofthalmou)

Meaning: keeping safe

When Greeks mention something of extreme value that has to be safeguarded come what may, they liken it to the iris of the eye, the part of that organ most vitally connected with sight, hence the most valuable.

Click here to return to the Series main page

(Posting Date 15 May 2007)

HCS readers can view other excellent articles by this writer in the News & Issues and other sections of our extensive, permanent archives at the URL
. The author is a journalist and writer for the English-language Athens News. Readers enjoying this article may wish to view other fine selections or to subscribe to this publication by visiting the website

All articles of Athens News appearing on HCS have been reprinted with permission.

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.