Vocabulary builder: Idioms and phrases for family gatherings


Szókincsfejlesztés családi témában sok-sok kifejezéssel. 

There are times of the year when people gather with their families to celebrate something: birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Hanukah, or other festivals. Relatives come to stay with you, share large meals, and give presents. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But when families get together, there can be tension, too. Let’s look at some common idioms and phrases that we use to describe what can happen when families have a little too much togetherness.

In our dreams, we imagine cosy family meals with the kids on their best behaviour and everyone being careful to steer clear of (avoid) those topics they know will cause Great-Uncle Henry to go off on one (UK )/go off on someone (US). We want our parties to go (UK) / go off (US) with a bang  (be very successful) so that everyone has a whale of a time (enjoys themselves very much) and Great-Uncle Henry forgets his usual complaints and turns into the life and soul of the party (becomes happy and sociable).

Unfortunately, life isn’t always like that! Just because someone is your own flesh and blood (part of your family) doesn’t mean they won’t drive you around the bend (annoy you a lot). Most families have a sister-in-law who’s a complete wet blanket (miserable person who stops others enjoying themselves), a child who makes a scene (behaves badly) if they don’t get the exact presents they want, or an over-chatty grandma who won’t let anyone else get a word in edgeways (UK)/edgewise (US).

Older relatives may not appreciate that the kids want to get up at the crack of dawn (extremely early), or that they’ll be climbing the walls (bored and needing exercise) after lunch, just when the adults want to snooze on the sofa. And anyone can go a bit stir-crazy (feel desperate to get away) after being in a room with their family for too long!

Decisions about who to invite or who to visit are a bone of contention (something that causes arguments) in many households. Finances are another worry. You want to be generous, but you don’t want to buy gifts that break the bank (cost too much), and things can be particularly tricky if you don’t see eye to eye (don’t agree) on the appropriate amount to spend.

The occasion is often toughest for the host or hostess. You want everything to run/go like clockwork (be successful), but looking after guests as well as cooking a big meal can be a difficult balancing act. You are rushed off your feet (extremely busy) trying to get everything done, but at the same time you may be walking on eggshells (being very careful what you say or do) in order to avoid conflict. All this stress can take its toll (affect you badly), and it can be very hard to keep your cool (remain calm).

Reading back over this post it seems English has more idioms for negative things than for positive ones. Nevertheless, for readers celebrating something, we wish every happiness, and hope your celebrations go like a dream (very successfully)!

source: dictionaryblog.cambridge.org



Hungarian translation

to steer clear of

to avoid


to go off on one (UK )/go off on someone (US)

to lose one’s temper; attack someone

nekiesni, rátámadni

to go (UK) / go off  (US) with a bang 

to be very successful

jól sül el, sikeres

to have a whale of a time

to enjoy themselves very much

remekül érezni magát

to turn into the life and soul of the party

to become happy and sociable

a társaság lelkévé/középpontjává válni

to be your flesh and blood

to be part of your family

a családhoz tartozik

to drive sy around the bend

to annoy very much

az őrületbe kergetni

to be a complete wet blanket

a miserable person who stops others enjoying themselves

minden jónak az elrontója

to make a scene

to behave badly

jelenetet rendezni, rosszul viselkedni

to not let anyone else get a word in edgeways (UK)/edgewise (US).

to not be able to say anything because someone else is talking all the time

nem engedni szóhoz jutni

to get up at the crack of dawn

to get up extremely early

hajnalok hajnalán felkelni

to  climb the walls

to be bored and to need exercise

a falat kaparja unalmában, be van sózva

to go a bit stir-crazy

to be desperate to get away

kétségbeesetten szabadulni akar

to be a bone of contention

something that causes arguments

vita tárgya

to break the bank

to cost too much

csődbe vinni

to not see eye to eye

to not agree

eltér a véleményük, nem értenek egyet

to run/go like clockwork

to be successful

megy, mint a karikacsapás

a difficult balancing act

situation in which you try to achieve several different things at the same time

több dolog közötti egyensúlyozgatás, hogy minden meglegyen

to be rushed off your feet

to be extremely busy

rendkívül elfoglaltnak lenni

to walk on eggshells

to be very careful what you say or do

borotvaélen táncolni

it can take its toll

can affect you badly

rossz hatással van rád, megvan a böjtje

to keep your cool

to remain calm

higgadtnak maradni

to go like a dream

to go very successfully

ahogy a nagykönyvben meg van írva, fennakadások nélkül


to gather




to get together







otthonos, barátságos






túl sokat beszélő

to appreciate


to snooze













nehéz, kemény

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