Follow your nose


Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s Czech language series in which you can learn idioms through song lyrics. Today, we’ll be listening to a tune by Jaromír Nohavica called Tři čuníci. The phrase to listen out for is “jít rovnou za nosem”.

“Jít rovnou za nosem” literally means “to follow one’s nose”, and it is used, just like in English, to describe walking straight ahead. In this song, Jaromír Nohavica sings about three little pigs, or tři čuníci, that march ahead without turning right or left – jdou rovnou za nosem. Listen to the phrase once again:

There are many phrases and idioms in Czech that use the word “nose”. When Czechs want to say that someone doesn’t quite like something, they would say “nejde mu to pod nos”, literally “it doesn’t go under his nose”. Another phrase with a similar meaning is “něco mu přelétlo přes nos” - “something flew over his nose”. The closest English equivalent would be “he’s got a bee in his bonnet”.

While the English say “to pull someone’s leg”, Czechs use the phrase “tahat někoho za nos”– to pull someone’s nose. However, both the Czechs and the English use the same phrase when it comes to people who are slightly short-sighted, in other words, they don’t see beyond the tip of their nose. In Czech we say “nevidí si na špičku nosu”.

And finally there is the phrase “dát si do nosu”– which literally means “to put something into your nose”. Its metaphorical meaning is “to have a feast”. However, be careful not to mistake this phrase with “dát někomu do nosu”, which means “to punch someone’s nose.”

And I am afraid that’s all we have time for today. If you need to go through the nose phrases again, you can check this and any other of the previous lessons on our website, that is Thank you for listening and nashledanou!