Best Albanian Expressions

Part 2: Daily Expressions and Colloquialisms

Cover Image: Art by Albanian artist Edmond Gjikopulli shows a traditional furniture pattern in Albanian living rooms for many generations with an image of modern children's sneakers laid on top)

In Albanian, as in every language, there are certain idioms which people use in their daily lives that can only be understood with a bit of context. The expressions below are funny, sarcastic, harsh or simply neutral. While they sound quite ridiculous when translated literally, I feel that language or methods of expression lead to a better understanding of any culture.

Shkel e shko
Translation: Step and go
Meaning: Messy; something done haphazardly

Vari hejbet/Varja
Translation: Hang the saddlebag [on it] /
Meaning: Let it go; Don’t bother with it

Gjysma e të keqes
Translation: Half of the bad
Meaning: It could always be worse; the current situation is ok

Mu prish gjiza
Translation: My cheese went sour
Meaning: I couldn’t care less

Larg qoftë
Translation: Let it be far / Hopefully far
Meaning: The hope or wish that something never happens

M'u be mendja dhallë
Translation: My mind turned into dhalle
Meaning: I’m all mixed up, confused from too many worries or too much information
(note: dhalle is a drink where yogurt, water and salt are mixed)

Mos e vrit mendjen
Translation: Don’t hurt your mind
Meaning: Don’t worry about it

Ikën për lesh
Translation: Turning into wool
Meaning: Ruining or wasting oneself

Futja kot
Translation: Launch with no result
Meaning: Doing/Saying something stupid without fore-thought

Burrë i dheut
Translation: Man of the earth
Meaning: A real man (A strong one with feet on the ground); The expression is generally used to say “be a real man” but can be used as the equivalent of “man” in English, as in “sure, man”.

Të zinjtë e ullirit
Translation: The black of the olives
Meaning: When someone goes through “the black of the olives”, he/she has gone through real hardships; Has gone through hell

Të hash dynjanë
Translation: To eat the world
Meaning: To go through hell
U bë tërkuzë
Translation: It became rope
Meaning: When something, usually a conversation or idea, has been exhausted in every way possible

Shih me sy e plas me zemër
Translation: Look with your eyes and let your heart explode
Meaning: When one wishes for something or someone that is out of their league

Ku rafsha mos u vrafsha
Translation: Wherever I fall, I hope I don’t get hurt
Meaning: A haphazard attitude towards like; someone who lives life spontaneously

Një nga krushka e një nga mushka
Translation: One towards the cousin, the other towards the mule
Meaning: Two things/people/features that have no relation to each other whatsoever or that take different paths

Njëri i bje gozhdës dhe tjetri patkoit
Translation: One hits the nail, one the horseshoe
Meaning: People with different opinions; Each person insisting on his/her own attitude or way of life

Pa lidhje
Translation: No connection; no tie
Meaning: Someone or something that does not make sense (usually used in a derogatory sense for someone who is slow, ignorant, or “weird”

Pak e saktë
Translation: Little and accurate
Meaning: Usually used as a complement for someone/something that is concise and to-the-point (something that generally runs opposite to Albanian culture)