Community Web Version Now Available
Community Tutor
Guest-Related Idioms and Proverbs
Does your native language have any guest-related idioms or proverbs? What is the general sentiment they express and does it match how guests are perceived in your culture?

I've heard people say that Czechs are grumpy and I can see why someone would think that but when it comes to having visitors, we turn into different creatures altogether. We scrub and polish and cook and bake and stock up and greet cordially, entertain, feed, spoil, feed some more and beg them to stay longer. The expectations are quite high, although, naturally, no guest would ever admit that. They will tell you that they've already eaten and they'll just have coffee... "OK, a bit of that nice-looking cake... What? You've marinated some cheese? Well, I won't say no to that. Take some home? I don't know... well, if you insist..." You get the picture.

Why am I saying this? Our guest-related idioms and proverbs are horrible.

"Ryba a host třetí/druhý den smrdí."
A fish and a guest both stink the third/second day. (Staying the night is not appreciated.)

"Koho to sem čerti nesou?" Čerti = little devils, Lucifer's helpers who often appear in folk tales. Whom are the devils bringing? (Being bothered by the fact that someone just turned up, often a sarcastic remark said in front of the guest.)

We have a nice one, too:
"Host do domu, Bůh do domu." Guest in the house, God in the house.

But we also have:
"Host do domu, hůl do ruky." Guest in the house, grab a stick (to beat them with).

And then there's the idiom "nezvaný host" - uninvited guest, used figuratively, but I think that this one might be international.

One last thing, more nerdy than the rest of the post: You might have noticed that in Czech, "host" means "guest". How confusing is that! It's a specific case where, apart from being false friends, the two expressions have the opposite meaning. I'd write a post about this but I reckon it's quite rare. If anyone wants to comment on this, please do because I'm curious.
May 22, 2020 6:29 PM
Comments · 9
The most common guest-related idiom in Germany is „Je später der Abend, desto schöner die Gäste“:äter_der_Abend,_desto_schöner_die_Gäste. Literally: “The later the evening, the more beautiful (i.e. pleasant) are the guests.” 

May 22, 2020
I imagine that Czech “host” and English “host” are in fact real friends, but with opposite meanings. Actually the English words “host” and “guest” are doublets of the Proto-Indo-European “ghosti”. Note that the English “host” can mean the person who receives guests, and it can also mean an army or large group of (usually hostile) people. (The word is used a lot in this sense in the KJB.) “Hostile” and “hospitable” both come from the same root. The original meaning of the root was a “stranger” — a stranger could be a host, a guest, or an enemy. Interestingly, once when speaking with a native Afrikaans speaker whose English was excellent (of course), I was momentarily confused when he said “hostile” instead of the intended “hospitable”. It’s logical to think the adjective from “host” would be “hostile”, but the meaning is the opposite. Which reminds me of a time I was talking with a couple of Eastern Europeans about the President Clinton / Monica Lewinski affair. One of them misunderstood what was meant by "giving testimony"….

May 22, 2020
Thanks, Peter. I didn't know that. I don't know how long it's been in use here but is seems to be popular in Poland, too. The official version says three days but I've written it as I'm used to hearing it. On second thought, my family (dad especially) have a habit of changing common phrases so I should probably change it.

Yes, the downvoting is done quite efficiently, I'll give them that. I upvoted John's comment and it had already been downvoted so it stayed on zero.
May 22, 2020
That's absolutely hilarious - someone managed to downvote my post in less than a minute. Is that some sort of record, I wonder?
May 22, 2020
Attributed to Ben Franklin: "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

May 22, 2020
Show More
Language Skills
Czech, English, German, Italian, British Sign Language (BSL), Swedish
Learning Language