Blog_NationalitiesIt’s time for another list of idioms. This time I thought I’d introduce you to some very common idioms we use connected to nationalities and countries. I want to thank Claudine, a fellow teacher for giving me this idea.

As I was compiling this list, I wondered about the origins of these idioms. Like a lot of languages, the origins of idioms are strongly associated to the cultural and historical ties countries and nationalities have with each other. I’m not going to cover the origins of these idioms in this post, but I’d be very interested in having your thoughts of where you think they might have come from.


1. It’s all Greek to me – we use this expression when we cannot understand something we read or hear

Blog_It's all Greek to Me

“I recently read this book on Metaphysics. Did you understand it, because it was all Greek to me”.


2. Go Dutch – we go Dutch when we go to a restaurant and share the bill.

“Rachel does not like her male companion to offer her dinner. She always prefers to go Dutch”.


3.  Chinese Whispers (UK) – this expression is often used as a metaphor for mistakes and inaccurate information which comes from rumours of gossip.

Blog_Chinese Whispers

“All this talk about the Prime Minister resigning is just Chinese Whispers. There’s no truth in the rumour”


4. Talk for England – when someone can talk for hours and hours

“I’m so sorry I’m late. I couldn’t get away from Linda. She can talk for England!”


Blog_Dutch Courage


5. Dutch Courage – when you need a little alcohol to give you the courage or confidence to do something.

“I think I’ll have a quick drink for Dutch Courage before I ask that girl to dance with me”.




Blog_Pardon My French


6. Pardon My French (UK) – we use this expression before or after we have said something rude, for example, a swear word.


” If you’ll pardon my French, but I think you’re a %^&*!”





7. A Mexican Standoff – this expression is often used in a business situation when two sides cannot agree.

” There appears to be a Mexican Standoff as neither party can agree on the terms of the merger”.


8. Indian Summer (UK) – a period in late autumn when the weather is unusually warm

“Much as I love this Indian Summer,  I wish we had this warm weather in the summer rather than in October”. 


Blog_Slow boat to china


9. Slow Boat to China – we use this expression to describe something that is very slow and takes a long time. It comes from an American song.


“Waiting for the architects to produce their plans was like taking the slow boat to China”.


10. Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians – this is often used to describe a company where there are too many managers and not enough people doing the actual work

Blog_Too many Chiefs and Not enough Indians

“The trouble with that company is that there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians”.


Do you know any other idioms using nationalities and countries? Please share them.

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Ciao for now