You Met a Greek Mother If You Heard These Phrases a Lot

Have you ever met a Greek mother? It is Mother’s day today and maybe you visited Greece or plan to, or you may have Greek friends around the world, or maybe your roommate is a Greek. Next time you may hear these phrases from their Greek mothers, it is good to know what they mean.

What a Greek Mother will say and what it means

  1. Keep your eyes fourteen! (Means: to be cautious).
  2. The feet revolted and want to hit the head (Means: denouncing authority).
  3. I ate the whole world to find you (Means: I looked everywhere).
  4. That’s just a small chandelier (Means: It’s not that big a deal).
  5. If that is true you can pierce my nose (Means: No way that is true).
  6. She/He will fit your two legs in 1 shoe (Means: She/He will do with you as he/she pleases or/and push you around).
  7. The lid rolled and found the kettle (Means: These people are the same or/and think the same way, one fits on the other).
  8. I got fleas in my ears (Means: I am suspicious for something I am thinking or have heard. By the way, it’s origin is from an actual torture in Byzantine times).
  9. She/He will cook the fish on your lips (Means: She/He will torture you with nagging or other psychological way).
  10. She/He will change your lights (Means: Same as above. The actual origin of this phrase comes too from an actual torture).
  11. Though we haven’t seen him yet, we call him Yiannis (Means: We still don’t know what/who is, yet we have labeled him with something. The origin comes from an anecdote with Kolokotronis and Nikitaras at the Greek revolution of 1821).

Common phrases a Greek Mother will use to “work you around”

(Some are used by Greek fathers too)

  1. If you or your brother want to kill each other, get out. I just finished cleaning the floor.
  2. Pray the the carpet stain can be removed.
  3. I am going to get your semester grades. If they are not good you better leave the house and not find you when I come back.
  4. What do you mean “why?”. Because, I said so!
  5. If you fall and bleed your knees, you will get spanked because you would have ripped your trouser too!
  6. Change your underpants! Suppose you have an accident and end up to the hospital. What would doctors say.
  7. Stop crying without a reason, or I will give you a reason to cry.
  8. Sure, that is a nice shower you had. Can’t you see that the back of your neck is still black/dirty?
  9. Close your mouth and eat your lunch.
  10. Your room is like being hit by a hurricane.
  11. Where did you learn these things? Why don’t you take an example from your sister/brother/or even some neighbor? Is this how they act?
  12. When I was in your age I had no shoes to wear. Thousands of people walk around without shoes. Do not be without gratitude.
  13. Wait until we get to the house…
  14. Stop crossing your eyes or you will end up cross-eyed.
  15. Wear your sweater. It is cold and you cannot feel it.
  16. If you don’t eat all your food, you won’t grow up.
  17. You are like your father (not always a good thing).
  18. When you grow up you will understand. Now do as I told you.
  19. Why eating out? Don’t we have food in our house? What the neighbors will say (while you live in a city of millions)
  20. When I was in your age I had 2 children already.
  21. Don’t step in the house. I mop the floor.
  22. Shall I make you something to eat? Are you hungry? No? OK, I will make you something.
  23. I told you so, didn’t I? Now, say that I told you.
  24. You don’t even carry your glass to the kitchen. Who will pick this up? The house slave?
  25. Be careful not to allow “someone” put “something” in your drink.
  26. Do not leave the last bite on your plate. This is your whole strength. Eat! Eat!
  27. There is heat wave outside. Are you leaving? Take a jacket. It will be cold later.
  28. Let me see what you will do when i die!
  29. While at the beach: If you get drown, I will kill you!
  30. “Do as you wish…” (direct psychological manipulation).
  31. You are thin, why don’t you eat more / Stop eating you will get fat and not find a groom/bride.
  32. “Mom, where are my shoes?”. Some dogs were dragging them!
  33. No woman is good for my boy (to be fair Greek fathers say: no man is good enough for my princess).

Header photo by Danny Merz.

Do you recognize hearing any of these? Or better, if you are not a Greek and thus you don’t have a Greek mother, what kind of phrases do your mothers use? Send them over.

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