The Greeks Have a Saying For it

By Jonathan Carr and Paul Anastasi
Athens News

Arse and knickers

(Κωλος χαι) (Kolos kai vraki)

Meaning: inseparable

An example of two things that go together (apart from a horse and carriage) is one's underwear and the flesh it contains. The phrase is used in a derisory sense to describe two people who plot and do everything together, implying that one is under the influence of the other.

Precisely the opposite is meant by becoming an arse (γινσμαστε χωλος) (yinomaste kolos). This phrase refers to two people whose otherwise friendly relationship is disturbed by a messy argument.


(Κοχχαλο) (KokkaJo)

Meaning: immobile; speechless; dead

This is an example of synecdoche - the use of one characteristic of a phenomenon to stand for the whole phenomenon. The whole phenomenon in this case is death, of which a bone is a potent symbol, as in the skull and bones. Someone "remaining bone" is either someone who has died suddenly or, in a lighter context, someone intimidated into silence or compliance.

Bursting a nose

(Σχαω μντη) (Skao miti)

Meaning: putting in an appearance

This expression has been known in northwest Greece for generations. It's an image from nature, namely that of tortoises and other hibernating animals that emerge in the spring, cracking the earth's crust with their noses. As one's nose is usually the first part of the body to make an appearance when entering, say, a room, the usage has a human dimension as well. It became nationally known in the mid-1990s when a feisty television game show hostess used it to call participants into camera range: "Skase miti!" - "Burst a nose!"

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(Posting Date 26 June 2007)

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