This list covers some of the most common sayings, used both in Hungary and beyond.
1. Úgy szép az élet, ha zajlik.
“Life is beautiful if it’s happening.”
Life is good when it is interesting when things happen, even if they are stressful or don’t go in the direction we intend them to. People use this phrase when someone is complaining that life is getting too busy, or too stressful.
2. A türelem rózsát teremt.
“Patience creates roses.”
The equivalent of “All good things come to those who wait”.
3. Fából vaskarika.
“Iron ring made of wood.”
The expression is used for something impossible, something absurd.
4. Lassan járj, tovább érsz.
“Walk slowly, you’ll get farther.”
Don’t rush things, they will turn out better.
5. Két malomba őrölnek.
“They grind in two different mills.”
They speak about two different things, which leads to a misunderstanding.
6. Egyik tizenkilenc, másik egy híján húsz.
“One is nineteen, the other is one less than twenty.”
They are both equal, referring usually to equally bad.
7. Sokat akar a szarka, de nem bírja a farka.
“The magpie wants a lot, but its tail can’t carry it all.”
When someone is trying to do more than they are capable of or more than possible in a given time, they are given this reminder. Equivalent of “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
8. Ahány ház, annyi szokás.
“As many customs as houses.”
Every family has its own customs.
9. A jég hátán is megél.
“He/she can survive on ice.”
Nothing can bring him/her down.
10. Eső után köpönyeg.
“Raincoat after the rain.”
It is too late to fix something.
11. Sok beszéd szegénység.
“Too much talk is poverty.”
Instead of talking, you should take action.
12. Ritka, mint a fehér holló.
“As rare as the white raven.”
It is extremely rare.
13. A rest kétszer fárad.
“The lazy one tires twice.”
If you don’t do something right the first time, you’ll have to do it all over again.
14. Se füle, se farka.
“It has no ears, nor tail.”
It makes no sense.
“Cat in a sack.”
You don’t know what you are getting.
16. Vak tyúk is talál szemet.
“Even a blind chicken finds one grain.”
Anyone might get a great result once, it doesn’t mean it will always occur.
17. Madarat tolláról, embert barátjáról ismerni meg.
“You’ll recognize the bird from its feathers, the man from his friends.”
You are who your friends are.
18. A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.
“A lying man is caught faster than a limping dog.”
A liar will be caught very fast. Used when the speaker suspects someone is lying, but can’t prove it.
19. Disznótór nem erőszak.
“No one is forced to attend the dinner party after killing the pig.”
For traditional Hungarians killing a pig is a popular event, attended by the whole village, or neighborhood, and culminates in a great dinner/celebration. The expression is used when someone is offered a great opportunity but is reluctant to accept it.
20. Ki korán kel aranyat lel.
“The one who gets up early will find gold.”
Early bird gets the worm.
21. Addig nyújtózz, amíg a takaród ér.
“Stretch only as far as your blanket reaches.”
Only take on as much as you are capable of doing.
22. Körmödre ég a gyertya.
“The candle is burning on your nail.”
You put off something until the very last minute.
23. Nem lehet mindent egy kalap alá vetni.
“We can’t put everything under one hat.”
Everything is variable, we can’t consider everything under the same rule.
24. Sejti, mint macska az esőt.
“He/she suspects it, like the cat (suspects) the rain.”
It is said of someone who thinks he/she knows something that might happen in the near future but isn’t sure of it.
25. Nagy port vert fel.
“It kicked up a lot of dust.”
It refers to people who made a huge deal of something, such as news that got blown out of proportion.
26. Nagy kő esett le a szívéről.
“A big stone fell off his/her heart.”
It is said when something that caused great stress or worry got resolved.
27. Kötve hiszem.
“I believe it if I’m tied off.”
I doubt it.
28. Fabatkát sem ér.
“It is not worth a wooden coin.”
It is worthless, not worth a penny.
29. Rossz fát tett a tűzre.
“He/she put bad wood on the fire.”
They did something wrong.
30. Nagy fába vágta a fejszéjét.
“He/she got his/her ax in a big tree trunk.”
They attempted something very difficult.
31. Köti az ebet a karóhoz.
“He/she is tying the dog to the pole.”
It is said about someone who won’t let go (of an idea).
32. Várja, hogy a sült galamb a szájába repüljön.
“He/she is waiting for the baked bird to fall into his/her mouth.”
It is said about someone too lazy to do anything even for themselves.
33. Nem akar kötélnek állni.
“He/she doesn’t want to stand for the rope.”
It is said about a person who won’t be persuaded to do something.