Estonian Sayings I get Funny Looks for Abroad

Orav rattas- Translates as “A squirrel in a wheel”. I have used that saying many a time at my workplaces. When someone is doing things swiftly, quickly and without fault I tell them they’re like a squirrel in a wheel.

Julge hundi rind on rasvane– Translates roughly as “The chest of a brave wolf is fatty”. Meaning- have the balls to break the “lamb” and you got another “meal” under your belt! I usually say it when people hesitate whether they should act or not. Go for the trip or not, take the job or not, ask that boy or girl out or not. Break that border in between action and fear.

Kes ei riski see shampust ei joo– Translates roughly as “One who doesn’t take risks, won’t drink champagne”. It says it all- if you don’t risk, you won’t succeed.

Nagu sada venelast– Translates as “Like a hundred Russians”. I used that saying in my previous workplace where my boss had a habit of running down the stairs. You could hear the stomping in the shop so I used to always rip the piss by telling him he sounds like a hundred Russians. Now! Before someone takes offense- it’s not meant to be offensive. I like Russians, even though a stereotypical Estonian might be seen as someone who dislikes Russians. I think Russians are a lovely nation- they have passion, temper and stamina. And they know how to party, live life to the fullest, and do so loud, hence the hundred Russians ๐Ÿ™‚

Kรผsija suu pihta ei lรถรถda– Direct translation is “You don’t hit the mouth of one who asks”… Roughly it’s something along the lines of “You can fault someone for asking”. Questions are important and when someone gets annoyed because a question has been asked then that would be my comeback. Questions are good! Person asking questions is good- they want to get it right, not assume!

Kel janu, sel jalad– This is a saying I use at home quite often. Roughly translates as “Thirsty has the legs”, meaning- if you want it, you have the means of getting it yourself. At home I use it literally quite often when my husband asks me to get up from behind my book to bring him a drink (a lemonade, he doesn’t drink alcohol, that would be too cliche- Woman, bring me a beer!”) So, first I always remind him that thirsty has the legs, then he gives me puppy dog eyes and I bring him a drink but won’t hand it over until he’s thanked me and told me what a great wife I am!

Vana hobune tahab ka kaeru– I love this one. Translates roughly as “Old horse also wants good oats”. This has been a punchline many a time when I hear people gossiping of older women or men going after younger men or women- you’d be amazed at how often I get to say this line. I remind them that even though they’re old, they also want, possibly even deserve, the goods! And to butt out of other people’s lives ffs! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anna aega atra seada– Translates as “Give me time to set my plough” Another of my workplace sayings which has slipped past my lips quite often lately. Within a minute of arriving to the office my Skype and phone are ringing mad for info, support, confirmations. Meaning- I can’t give you anything until I have the proper tools set up, myself set up. I love that saying!

Well, I hope ye found these entertaining, even if only a slightest bit. It seems many Estonian sayings are around farming and nature- pagans as we are. I am sure I could go into the semantics of these sayings but that would just put you to sleep, I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚

Any equivalents for these sayings- drop them into comments. Any interesting ones from your own countries- drop them into comments even if they translate into a total mess.

Next review scheduled for this blog is “Sol of the Coliseum” by Adam Gaylord- stay tuned!


  1. Love this kind of stuff! ๐Ÿ˜€ It ‘sounds’ so Finnish! Does it resemble it a lot?

    I’ve got one my mom uses regularly and tends to embarrass the shit out of me when I’ve got company:

    Het is als een hondekulke in de maneschijn – It’s like a dog’s dick in the moonshine.

    Meaning something is very shiny >.> “Oh, look at those new buttons on your coat…” /facepalm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh FFS! I have to stop drinking stuff while I read anything you’ve written… I’m turning into a human fountain ๐Ÿ˜€
      That saying is fantastic! ๐Ÿ˜€ hahaha Go Mom!!!

      Estonian is actuaslly VERY similar to Finnish. In fact, even though Estonia is in the Baltics, Estonian is the only out of the three “sisters” whose language belongs to a different group- the finno-ugric languages and is not at all similar to Latvian, Lithuanian or Russian language. So, well done on recognizing the similaerities! ๐Ÿ™‚
      There is a difference though in between Finnish and Estonian as a lot of the words mean totally different things… example- hallitus in Estonian is mold, in Finnish it’s parlament… stuff like that ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha, wups! ๐Ÿ˜€ It can be quite embarrassing when you bring your teenage friends over :D. Or adult friends as well, for that matter. That’s so cool! I tried a little Finnish when I had a Finnish love interest at one point, but all he taught me was ‘seksipupu’ >.>. I wonder what that is in Estonian now ;).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, my parents are quite openminded like that as well… whatever comes out of their mouth… but it’s funny and they get a long very well with youngsters… which is cool… so Go mom! ๐Ÿ™‚

          seksipupu in Estonian would be seksijรคnku… a sexbunny! ๐Ÿ˜€ haha… khm, that’s a helluva nickname, eh? ๐Ÿ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s better than having the “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” type of mentality fo sho! ๐Ÿ˜€

            So jรคnku means bunny. Cool, cool, cool. Yeah, I’ve had more romantic nicknames than ‘my little seksipupu’ :P. It does sound cute, though, if you don’t know what it means. Fuzzy bear cute.


  2. I always smile when I hear the English expression ‘Break a leg!’ Of course, one wishes quite the opposite. In Germany, one is encouraged to break both leg and neck! [Hals und Beinbruch!]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that is so interesting! Germans go all out, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Estonian equivalent for “Break a Leg” would be “Kivi Kotti” meaning, eh, directly translated it means “Rocks into your bag”… I have NO idea how that’s supposed to be wishing good luck! ๐Ÿ˜€


  3. Julge hundi rind on rasvaneโ€“ is definitely my favorite! I just need to figure out how to say it right. ๐Ÿ˜€ Your horse one reminds me of the phrase “you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink” It’s right along the lines of your which is kind of similar meaning you can lay out all the opportunities and learning devices for a person but you cant make them take them or learn. But it’s also used sarcastically for people who don’t have basic common sense, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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