Straight from the horse's mouth


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Hello and welcome to Radio Prague's Czech teaching programme. With the new season we bring you a brand new series. As in our previous series, we'll continue to explore Czech idioms but this time focused on nature. The first part of our new series will concentrate on animal idioms - and as you might have guessed from the jingle, farm animals will be first. And today we start with the horse.

The Czech word is kùò. As you know, Czech is an inflected language, which means that words change their form according to their function in the sentence. So that's why the word kùò will sound very different in all the idioms you'll hear today.

The first expression is probably very well known to you as it is almost the same in English. It is "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." Darovanému koni na zuby nehleï. The literal translation is "don't look a gift horse at the teeth". Darovanému koni na zuby nehleï.

Our second phrase today comes from the world of horseracing and betting. A horse - kùò - can also be someone whom you support, whose abilities you trust and in whose success you believe. But if your hopes turn false, you might say that you backed the wrong horse. Vsadil jsem na ¹patného konì. Literally, I bet on the wrong horse.Vsadil jsem na ¹patného konì.

Another idiom we have for you works in a similar way in both Czech and English. It is "to be on the high horse". Být na koni. It translates as "to be on the horse". While the English idiom means to be overbearing and arrogant, in Czech, the expression Být na koni implies being in one's prime, having got the better out of someone, having one up on somebody. Arrogance is only a secondary meaning of the phrase.

Another very popular Czech idiom using the word horse is rather bizarre. It suggests to you to leave all your troubles to the horse because it has a bigger head than you. Nech to koòovi, má vìt¹í hlavu. Leave it to the horse, it has a bigger head. So why don't you stop worrying and forget your troubles, they will solve themselves somehow. Nech to koòovi, má vìt¹í hlavu.

And that's all for today. If learning Czech has become your hobby - koníèek, which just like in English means a little horse - please don't forget there will be more animal idioms for you next time. Until then na shledanou.


See also Living Czech