Map of idioms, from around the world


An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. For example, "don't cry over spilled milk,"  or "the cat is out of the bag." Idioms are fun to use, and fun to hear - don't you agree? And I think idioms are even more fun if you have to first translate them from another language! That's what this example demonstrates, and I thought it was cool enough to share with everyone!...

I spent a while with my friend Google, searching the web for interesting idioms from other countries. I was especially interested on ones that were in a different language, translated directly/literally into English, and then had an explanation of what the expression actually means. I copy-n-pasted my findings into an Excel spreadsheet, and here's a little sneak peek at what it looks like:

I'm a tester at heart, and the main thing I wanted to test here was whether SAS could correctly import all these characters from different languages, and also output the characters correctly in the SAS output. I found that the key to success was making sure my SAS session used utf-8 encoding. There are a couple of ways of doing that, and I chose to specify a sasv9.cfg file that contained the "-ENCODING UTF-8" option.

sas.exe -config "c:\program files\sashome\x86\sasfoundation\9.4\nls\u8\sasv9.cfg"

Here are some screen captures showing a variety of language characters successfully displayed in my SAS output table, and the mouse-over text for my map:

And finally, here's what you've all been waiting for ... click the map image below, to see the full size interactive version of the idiom map. You can then hover your mouse over the red dots to see the idioms in the mouse-over text, or click the red dots to launch a Google search for more idioms from that country. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite idiom, or slang expression, from your area? Feel free to share it in a comment!



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

Related Posts


  1. A few from Australia, and yes, people use these regularly!

    There's Buckley's chance of getting this job finished today. (Buckley's = no chance at all)

    What do you think this is, bush week? (You think I'm stupid?)

    Flat out like a lizard drinking! (To be really busy)

    I'm feeling a bit crook. (I don't feel well. Or, "I'm as crook as Rookwood" = I am VERY sick at the moment (Rookwood is a big cemetery just outside Sydney))

  2. Chris Brooks on

    We have lots of these idioms where I come from in South Wales but my personal favourite (and one I find myself using often) is "I'll be there now in a minute " which sounds like a contradiction but loosely interpreted means "I'm on my way but give me a chance - I'm not Usain Bolt"......

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      I did a Google search just now, and it appears you do indeed have a right smart heap of idioms and expressions! :)

  3. A #FunFriday post! Always good to have encoding UTF-8 for data processing, otherwise there is the potential for people's names not to be stored correctly. Love language and literal translations. An interesting sample here Robert.

  4. This is hilarious, thanks for sharing! How did you get your tooltips to export to HTML so that I could see them without being logged into SAS?

Back to Top