Vocabulary: Idioms


If you think of English or any other language, then people quite do not speak so literally. For example, by saying the above, I am not pulling your leg

When an expression conveys a figurative (sometimes literal) meaning, then they are called idioms. Their figurative meanings are different from literal ones. Such kind of expressions are vital to learn in any language if you are to speak it fluently. Here are some example sentences in English that make use of idioms (in italics):

She hung up on me.
We should cut out our carbon emissions. 
The murderer killed him in cold blood.

Of course, she did not literally hang you up on a rope. They did not literally grab a pair of scissors and started chopping carbon dioxide molecules (if that were only possible!). The murderer did not drown the victim in a bathtub full of icy blood. Instead, they carry figurative meanings. 

The above two are of a particular kind and are called Phrasal verbs. Together with the last one, they are called idiomatic expressions.

Idioms are called टुक्का (tukka) in Nepali. 


The below is a non-exhaustive list. They are listed in the following format:

Nepali Text (Transliteration)
Literal Meaning
Figurative Meaning or English Equivalent (if any)
Example Sentence (transliteration)
= Translation of the sentence.


आलु खानु (aalu khanu)
To eat potato
To fail/ To be unsuccessful
रामले परिक्षामा आलु खायो (ram`le pariksha`ma aalu khayo)
= Ram failed in his test.

टाप कस्नु (taap kasnu)
To tighten hoof
To run away/ flee
राम कक्षादेखि टाप कस्यो (ram kaksha dekhi taap kasyo)
= Ram ran away from class.

हात छाड्नु (haat chadnu)
To release hand
To beat (someone)
रामले भाइको माथि हात छाड्यो (ram`le bhai`ko mathi haat chadyo)
= Ram beat up small brother.

आँखा फुट्नु (akha phutnu)
To shatter eyes
A scolding used for people who can’t see something in plain sight or in an obvious place
तेरो आँखा फुटेको छ हो? त्यो हिमाल पनि नदेखेको? (tero akha puteko ho? tyo himal pani nadekheko?)
= Are you blind? Not even seeing that mountain?

सिलटिमुर खानु (siltimur khanu)
To eat Siltimur (a type of wild Sichuan pepper)
To die/ To kick the bucket
बुढो बाजे अस्ति सिलटिमुर खानुभयो (budho baje asti siltimur khanubhayo)
= Old grandfather died day before yesterday.

आँखा लाग्नु (akha laagnu)
To keep eyes
1) To be a recipient of bad omen of people who dislike your successes/beauty etc.
2) To feel greedy

दुश्मनको आँखा लागेर मेरो परिक्षा बिग्र्‍यो (dushman`ko akha laagera mero pariksha bigryo)
= Because of the evil omen of my enemies, my test went horribly. 

औंला भाँच्नु (aula bhaachnu)
To break fingers
To count/ calculate
मेरो उमेर थाहा पाउनुको लागि उसले औंला भाँच्यो (mero umer thaha paunu`ko lagi usle aula bhaachyo)
= To find out my age he calculated.

नाक काट्नु (naak kaatnu)
To cut nose
To be ashamed/dishonoured
तैले सुन चोरेर मेरो नाक काटिस् (taile sun chorera mero naak katis)
= Since you stole gold, you have dishonoured me.

कुरा काट्नु (kura kaatnu)
To cut talk
To backbite/slander
जन र मेरी मिलेर मेरो कुरा काटे (jan ra meri milera mero kura kate)
= John and Mary together backbit me.

ठीक पार्नु (thik parnu)
To make right
To take revenge/ retaliate/ redress
त्यो घमण्डीलाई गाली गरेर ठीक पार्यौ (taile tyo ghamandi`lai gali garera thik paaryau)
= You have redressed that vain person after scolding him/her.

नाक थाप्नु (naak thaapnu)
To support/receive nose
To support a person/thing in question (think this as the prevention of ‘naak katnu’)
घमण्डीको कति नाक थापेको! (ghamandi`ko kati naak thapeko!)
= Why are you supporting that vain person!

हावा बोल्नु (hawa bolnu)/ हावा कुरा गर्नु (hawa kura garnu)
To speak wind
To say nonsense/ unrealistic things
राम अमेरिका गएको छ भनेर हावा बोल्यो (ram amerika gaeko cha bhanera hawa bolyo)
= Ram uttered nonsense when he said he had been to America.

सिकसिक लाग्नु (siksik laagnu)
To feel siksik (onomatopoeia)
To be disgusted/ feel repulsed
फोहोर देखेर कस्तो सिकसिक लाग्यो (phohor dekhera kasto siksik laagyo)
= I felt disgusted after seeing filth.

भाउ खोज्नु (bhau khojnu)
To search for price
To aggress/ quarrel
मसँग धेरै भाउ नखोज (ma`sanga dherai bhau nakhoja)
= Don’t pick a fight with me.

कान थाप्नु (kaan thaapnu)
To support ear
To listen
विद्यार्थीहरु कक्षामा कान थापे (bidyarthi`haru kaksha`ma kaan thaape)
= The students listened in the class.