The green, green grass of home


Hello and welcome to the last short series on Czech idioms about nature. We are closing the cycle with a string of lessons on wild flora. And today we start with grass - trava. A word which is very similar in all Slavonic languages.

Photo: Archiv of ČRo7
Like many nations, the Czechs too are envious about the English lawn - anglický trávník which no one but the English is ever capable of growing. Anyway, Czechs tend to call any decently trimmed lawn an English lawn.

About clumsy or disaster-prone people who tend to mess everything up, we can say kam lápne, tam sto let tráva neroste - wherever he steps, grass doesn't grow for a hundred years, meaning he brings bad luck to whatever he touches.

In the following idiom, grass stands for unimportance and short-livedness: Světská sláva, polní tráva. "Worldly fame is just like grass in the field." Fame is unimportant, it will fade away, and one should not pay much attention to it.

If someone is paranoid we can say he or she hears grass grow - slyší trávu růst. He or she reads too much into things. It has nothing to do with the English saying "to watch grass grow" - meaning something really boring. This idiom does not have an equivalent in Czech.

Czech uses several versions similar to the English idiom "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". Czechs usually use it when they remember their youth or a place they liked. "When I was young, even the grass was greener" - Kdy jsem byl mladý, i tráva byla zelenější.

The Czech word for dried grass, hay, is seno. A very common ailment traditionally bothering people in the haymaking season is - senná rýma, hay fever or literally, "hay cold". About stupid people, Czechs can say má v hlavě seno - he has got hay inside his head, he has nothing between the ears. And finally, an expression used both in Czech and English is jehla v kupce sena - a needle in a haystack, something impossible to find just like a needle in a haystack would be.

And that's all for today's lesson. We'll be back next time with more Czech idioms about wild plants. Join us again if you can, na shledanou.