Finnish sayings and their meanings

Do you know what it means when something leaves from a mitten or when a day is on a sled? How is a rabbit connected to relaxing? The Finnish language has many interesting sayings with funny literal meanings. However, the sayings have wise metaphorical meanings that you can learn from.


pupu.jfifHelppo nakki
Easy frankfurter
When something is easy like a piece of cake, you can simply call it "an easy frankfurter”.

Sillä sipuli
an onion
That’s it! End of discussion.

Juosta pää kolmantena jalkana
To run with your head as a third leg
Everyone knows the situation when you’re so extremely busy that you almost stumble. In that case, you can say yourun with your head as the third leg”.

Ei tässä olla jäniksen selässä
You’re not sitting on a rabbit’s back
On the other hand, sometimes it’s better to calm down. “Ei tässä olla jäniksen selässä" is a Finnish way of reminding you can relax, you’re not in a hurry after all.


Eteenpäin, sanoi mummo lumessa
Forward, said granny in the snow
This saying describes the mindset of Finnish
sisu strength, determination, willpower and courage. Even though it might be challenging to move on heavy snow, you should stay strong and keep going through difficulties.

Päivä on pulkassa
The day is on a sled
Phew! After a long day you can say the day is finally on a sled.

Joka vanhoja muistelee, sitä tikulla silmään
A poke in the eye for the one who dwells on the past
Sometimes it’s better to forgive, get over old memories and continue in life.

Ei pidä tehdä kärpäsestä härkästä
You shouldn’t make a bull out of a fly
shouldn’t make small things any bigger than they actually are.


Repiä pelihousut
To rip game pants
When you get mad and completely lose patience, you "rip your game pants".

Lyödä viisaat päät yhteen
To hit wise heads together
Rather than trying to solve things on your own, it might be better to “hit wise heads together” and find a solution in collaboration with others.

Nostaa kissa pöydälle
lift a cat on a table
When you are going to discuss or deal with something difficult, you can bravelylift a cat on a table”.

Ei ole koiraa karvoihin katsominen
You don’t choose a dog by its hair
This saying reminds people they shouldn’t judge anything or anyone by their appearance. Like you don’t judge a book by its cover either.

Kell’ onni on, se onnen kätkeköön
has happiness should hide it
Finland has been ranked as the world’s happiest country multiple timesNeverthelessthis old saying perfectly describes the modest and shy personality of a Finn: there is no need to boast your success and achievements out loud.



Niin metsä vastaa, kuin sinne huutaa
The forest answers like you shout there
What comes around, goes around. Others treat you like you treat them.

Lähteä lapasesta
To leave from a mitten
When you lose control of something, the situation mightleave from a mitten”.

Heittää huulta
To throw some lip
When throwing some lip, you are joking or chit-chatting.

Oppia ikä kaikki
All the ages are full of learning
The saying describes the beauty of lifelong learning there is always something to explore, experience and enjoy. Just live and learn!


...And if you want to learn more about these sayings and Finnish language, join our Intensive Finnish Language and Culture Courses or give our online language courses a try!