To put your hand in the fire


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 listen to a song by Janek Ledecký with a rather complicated title: “Jediný, co na mě vypadá fajn, jsi ty” or the only thing that suits me is you. The phrase to look out for is “dát ruku do ohně”.

The singer is complaining that although he is wearing designer clothes, the only thing that really suits him is his girlfriend. He is so certain of it that he is ready to put his hand in the fire – or, as we say in Czech - “dám za to ruku do ohně”. The closest English idiom would probably be “I’ll bet my life that this is so”. Listen to the phrase “dát ruku do ohně” once again:

The word “fire” appears in many Czech idioms, and it usually suggests some kind of trouble, such as the phrase “zahrávat si s ohněm”– to play with fire or “přilít olej do ohně”– to pour oil into the fire. When you say something you shouldn’t have and spark trouble, Czechs would say that you have set the roof on fire - “je oheň na střeše”. The English equivalent of this idiom would be “the fat is in the fire”.

Another common Czech phrase is “mít želízko v ohni”, which translates as “iron in the fire”. There is a similar phrase in English – to keep your irons in the fire, which suggests that you are keeping several options open. The Czech phrase, however, suggests that there is something at stake. And I guess that’s all we have time for today. If you want to check this or any of our previous editions of SoundCzech, go to But, for now, thank you for listening and na shledanou!