Your eyes fourteen! (The mad Greek dictionary)

By John Carr/Paul Anastasi


Eating one’s face-Τρώω τα μούτρα μου (Troo ta moutra mou)

Meaning: coming to grief

Falling on one’s face, literally, like to having “eaten”, or disfigured, the features. Worthy of note is the colloquial slang word for face, moutra, which connotes a loss of face for the person in such a predicament.

Going bold-Καραφλιάζω (Karafliazo)

Meaning: astonishment, disbelief

Apparently arising out of the Athenian youth culture c 1980, this usage reflects the widespread view-buttressed by some medical evidence-that sudden shock can trigger drastic hair loss. The word karafliazo is an illiterate corruption of the correct Greek word for baldness, falakra.

Pulling out the hair of my head -Πληρώνω τα μαλλιά της κεφαλής μου  (Plirono ta malia tis kefalis mou)

Meaning: paying a lot of money, more than something is worth. Most likely this is a reference to the number of hairs on one’s head, when translated into monetary terms, signifying “a lot”. Also, when all one’s possessions and clothes are gone, the only easily removable parts of the body are one’s hairs.

Putting two feet in one shoe-Βάζω τα δύο πόδια σ’ ένα παπούτσι (Vazo ta dyo podia s’ ena papoutsi)

Meaning: taking control; putting someone in their place

Placing both feet into one shoe is the ultimate image of restriction and disciplining. Feminists love this phrase, often used by strong-headed young women who vow to tame their wayward men in this hobbling fashion once they get them to the altar.

Swallowing the tongue-Καταπίνω τη γλώσσα μου (Katapino ti glossa mou)

Meaning: being rendered speechless or proved wrong

To the voluble Greeks the tongue and its use have been vital throughout their history. As in English, the word tongue in Greek is a synonym and metonym at the same time for language. Hence, swallowing one’s tongue, that is, gulping in embarrassment is to momentarily lack the power of speech.

Taking it on the skull-Τα παίρνω στο κρανίο (Ta pairno sto kranio)

Meaning: being astonished, dumfounded, angry

The derivation here is fairly self-explanatory. The phrase emerged from the 1990s youth culture and spread rapidly to all age groups.