To be on thin ice


Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – our Czech language series in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by Lucie Vondráčková and is called Tenký led – thin ice – which is the phrase to listen out for today.

The expression “být na tenkém ledě” is the exact equivalent of the English saying to be on thin ice. Being on ice in general is considered highly risky – in Czech if someone says “on v tom bruslí” in other words “he is ice-skating” it means the person is in trouble and doing a bad job of something or other. If you say “bruslí v matice” about you child it means they are close to flunking math at school. You will find many related expressions in the Czech language – all to do with how firmly one’s feet are on the ground. “Být na šikmé ploše” is to be on a slippery slope, být na hraně is “to be on the edge” and both of them have the same meaning as in English. You can also “walk on eggshells” but in Czech the expression is tančit mezi vejci – in other words to dance among a lot of eggs.

Now, I hope that you will not find yourself in these situations very often and it is only right that you should know how to express the opposite – when you are confident and doing well. Not surprisingly the most commonly used Czech expressions for that are “Je pevnej v kramflecích” he is firm in his shoes or “umí v tom chodit”– he knows his way around - which suggests that one knows how to move around in a certain environment. “Mám to pevně v rukách” means I have the reigns on something, I have whatever it is under control. I hope that you life is firmly in your hands and you’ll never find yourself on the slippery slope. This is DL saying thanks for learning Czech with me and nashledanou.