11 Persian Sayings That Make No Sense in English

Leyla Shams
January 21, 2014

Translating idioms and sayings into other languages is always an exercise in humor- often, you've repeated them so many times without thinking about what is literally being said. We decided to make a list of the 11 funniest Persian sayings and translate them literally into English, along with a photo accompaniment of their literal meanings. Try to take a guess at what they actually mean before reading the explanations below.

1. moosh bokhoradet

moosh bokhoradet, a mouse should eat you

While literally meaning 'A Mouse Should Eat You' in the Persian language, this phrase means 'You are cute'. You'll hear adults saying this to kids all the time (especially while pinching their cheeks). moosh bokhoré torō! is another way to say it. It's also used when someone says something adorable- but beware, sometimes it could be used in a slightly demeaning way, or to belittle someone. The equivalent is if an adult says something in English, and another adult answers back 'Oh, you're so cute!' Cute isn't always the highest compliment in that context...

2. zahré mār

zahreh mar, the poison of a snake

Though it literally means 'the poison of a snake,' this phrase means 'Shut up!' in the Persian language. Just as shut up is not a nice thing to say in English, zahré mār can be quite insulting in the Persian language as well, unless it's used in a context to mean 'get out of here!'.

3. jeegaretō bokhoram

This is another endearing statement in the Persian language, and means something along the lines of 'I love you' or 'I'll do anything for you.' You can say it to a lover, friend, or family member, but only to people you have strong feelings toward. It's a way of expressing some intense love.

4. havā-tō dāram

hava to daram, i have your weather, two cats under umbrella

Although literally meaning I have your weather or air, this statement is the Persian equivalent of the English 'I have your back.' So in other words, 'I'm there for you buddy!'

5. jeegaré man-ee

jeegare manee, you are my liver

Similar to 'I want to eat your liver,' one of the most loving terms of endearment you can direct to someone is to tell them you that they are your liver. While this may not sound romantic in English, it has quite an effect in the Persian language. Tell someone 'jeegaré man-ee', and they will be yours forever.

6. bā namak

ba namak, with salt, picture: mr. bean with salt being poured on him

Although this saying literally means 'salty', it has the opposite meaning of what you might think. When you call someone bā namak, you are saying that they are funny, interesting or charming. Conversely, bee namak refers to a humorless, dry person.

7. ghorbānat beram

ghorbanat beram, I will sacrific myself for you, picture: woman fainted

Although this is an extreme saying, it is used quite frequently in the Persian language. It literally means 'I would like to be sacrificed for you', but is used simply as a term of affection. Watch our video on tarof to get a better example of this extreme example of tarof.

8. saram kolā gozāshtan

saram kolah gozashtan, they put a hat on my head, picture: googoosh with hat

This Persian phrase is used to mean 'they tricked me'. Either someone else can put a hat on your head, or you can do it to someone else- saret kolā gozashtam (I tricked you).

9. jāt khāli-yé

jaat khaaliyeh, your place is empty, picture: empty chair

This is a very common Iranian saying, and it means 'You were missed'. Anytime you speak of an event that was very enjoyable, but the person you are talking to was not present, you are obligated to tell them that they were missed in the situation. This way, they know you were thinking of them, and that it would have been better if they'd been there. Another way of saying this is jāt sabzé, which literally means 'your place is green', or there is green grass growing where you should have been. This means the same exact thing as jāt khāli-yé.

10. zameen khordam

zameen khordam, I ate the ground, picture: head under dirt

Although it doesn't literally mean 'I ate the ground', khordan can be used either to mean 'to hit' OR 'to eat'. This phrase is used to signify 'I fell to the ground' or 'I fell down'.

11. khāk bar sar-am

This is a phrase that is in the not-so-nice category. It literally means 'dirt on my head', which is another way of saying 'I should die', and it's hard to translate the phrase into English without using some not-so-good English words. But basically, it's used when you've made a mistake or realized something terribly wrong has happened. You can also flip it around and say khāk bar sar-et, meaning dirt on your head, but remember this is very insulting, and basically means something along the lines of 'You should die!'

So there you go, 11 Persian phrases that when translated into English literally, are quite hilarious. Can you think of any that we're missing? Leave them for us in the comment section below- perhaps we can do another illustrated series for all to see.

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كسى كه به ما نريده بود كلاغ كون دريده بود

- Fargham-ra rast vaz kon (open my difference straight -ala part my hair on the right)

- Bargh ask K**nam paried (electricity sparked/arced from my buttocks)

- Goh khordam/khordy (I/you ate feces)

- Delam tang shod (my heart/stomach narrowed)

- Pedaram-ra dar avordi (you extracted my father)

- Arvah Shekamette (specters/ghosts of your stomach)

- Kerm Nariez (do not drop worms)

- Tu sari khor (one who eats the insides of the cranial cavity)


اخبار جسته گريخته = jumping and running news/information. :-)))))))))))

Bring the donkey and load it with broad beans = خر بيار و باقالى بارش كن

"Yani koshtamet" literally means I m gonna kill you but it means when you're so excited about what you are hearing about sth while you're talking with someone

Dooms day, Dawned on your head, "saret/Head" in this case is NOT your literal head but your "Present time or (in your lifetime)" ;)

KOON KOSHAD, his anus is wide or loosened rather, meaning he is lazy, its always been a wtf to me.
Chakeretam is also a bit extreme, I am your slave, but more like I am at your service.
I always thought bi shuhoor ment without sour taste, but i think its the shuhoor for inteligence. lol
same with khosh omadin, Dry arrival.. . . lol

Shoor is salty not sour, and "khosh" "khosh umadin" means happy or good, dry is actually "khoshk"!

Not to forget "ba domam gerdoo mishkoonam" I break nuts with my tail, meaning I am happy! :)

I don't think number 10 should be included! because "khordan" also means hit and "zameen zhordan" doesn't mean eating floor, so its not really a literal translation.

"Aab az saram gozasht". The waters over my head, meaning I'm already dead so who cares

shoma kootah bis ( come short!!)

arvah e babat ( your father's spiritS)

boro baba ( go daddy)

na baba!? ( No daddy)

ridam too kasat ( I shit in your bowl)

ridam to tonget ( I shit into your pitcher)

shotor savari dolla dolla ( camel riding, bending bendin) [ and no we do not ride our camel to the airport as one asked my brother when he came to US!)

A dessert called yakh dar behesht ( ice in paradise- I WOUDL HAVE LIKED IT IN HELL)

chap chap niga nakon ( do not look left left)

Jigar tala ( golden liver)

bi ab e roo ( without face's water)

boro baba hal dari! ( go daddy, you have state)

How about Khun Goshad? I used it quite often in my daily life with Khun Goshad people.

It is referred to some one LAZY, or a "patsy" as if someone has been pucked alot.

#10 is wrong, "khordam" here doesn't mean eating , it's "Bar khord" which means to touch or to collide

Dom koloof= Thick Tail....means someone with connection or rich effluent person.

طرف گندِ دماغِ
طرف عصا قورت داده
يارو رو با يه من عسل نميشه خورد
آى نامرد

I'm learning Persian (parsi) , is it so rude to say " bishin binim baba" ? I know the meaning: just seat and say nothing!

Dude, most of the slangs, or expressions u have read here can be thought of as both very rude and insulting or as jokes it really depends on the situation u used them in. For instance "Bishin Binim Baba" which literally translates to some nonsense "Sit I See Dad"!, usually has the same meaning as "shut up". You wouldn't say such a thing to an elderly or an older family member but you might easily use it on your friends.

The best phrase in all categories:
"Kose moosh chal nakon"
(Don't bury the mouse pussy)

Means something like: don't waste your time doing silly things.

My dad says that all the time to me :)

Pardash paareh bood. In english means, Her curtain was ripped. In Farsi means, she wasn't a virgin.

Pardash paareh bood. In english means, Her curtain was ripped. In Farsi means, she wasn't a virgin.