Are you stuck at work while it’s sunny outside? Did you just come back from your vacation and you feel a bit down? Is the cold season starting, but you can’t yet bear to dust off your winter clothes? Does it seem like everyone you know is on a permanent cruise when you check your social media? Enough!
Here’s a list of the most optimistic sentences we could find in different languages. They are sure to cheer you up:
We’re pretty sure you already know these expressions, but do you know their origins and real meanings?
To be as happy as a clam
OK, so, apparently, clams look like they are smiling. (Do they?!) The expression was coined in the U.S. back in the 19th century, and actually derives from the phrase “to be as happy as a clam at high water.” Why is that? Well, clam digging only occurs at low tide, so high water means that they are safe from hungry humans.
To feel like a million bucks
In order to feel like a million bucks you often have to be dressed well — usually wearing an outfit that looks very expensive and fancy (although it doesn’t have to be!). It’s a way of saying that you feel great, plus, you look amazing! And if you want to compliment someone on how they are dressed, you can tell them that they look like a million bucks.
To be as happy as Larry
Wait a minute, who’s Larry? This sentence was coined near the end of the 19th century in Australia and New Zealand, but there are actually two characters who bear a resemblance to the happy description.
The first one would be Larry Foley (1847-1917), an Australian boxer who won £1,000 in his last fight, which made him, without a doubt, the happiest guy around!
The other option states that Larry comes from the Australian-English term “larrikin,” originating from “larking,” or the feeling you have when experiencing amusement or adventure, which would also make perfect sense, wouldn’t it?
Estar feliz como um pinto no lixo
Literal translation: to be happy like a chicken in the garbage
Of course a chicken would be more than happy to be in the garbage, with so many delicacies to choose from! For a chicken, a hot pile of garbage must be like the best of free buffets. The phrase is similar to the English expression “as happy as a pig in mud” which also equates filth with happiness. It’s almost like whoever invented these phrases was envious of the farm animal lifestyle…
Estar nas nuvens
Literal translation: to be in the clouds
This sentence has equivalents in many languages, and while the other variations mean “to be distracted,” in Portuguese you can also use it when you are very happy.
In English, the expression “to be on cloud nine” conveys the same feeling of joy, because you feel like you’re floating and clouds are high… wait a minute — did I just accidentally discover why people say they’re “high” when they’re on drugs?!
Essere felice come una Pasqua
Literal translation: to be happy as Easter
How can such a weird expression be so popular? The same expression is also used in Spanish estar más contento que unas pascuas (to be happier than Easter) and its origin can be explained through the etymology of the Italian word for Easter, Pasqua, which is a Latin and Greek word that comes from the Hebrew pesach (pace, transit). If you know any Hebrew, then you’ll know that pesach is also the word for Passover, a completely different holiday. Passover is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. So how did Easter and Passover end up with the same name (in Italian and Spanish, at least)? Easter’s rituals are actually based on Passover, they are both celebrated in early Spring and the two holidays were even celebrated at the same time for centuries. So, if Italians call Easter “Passover” what do they call Passover? Pasqua ebraica (Jewish Easter). Cultural appropriation, oy vey!
Andare in brodo di giuggiole
Literal translation: to be in jujube broth
Mmmm! Feel like dipping into a big vat of date juice? The expression does sound like a big, fresh cocktail on a sunny day!
Sich freuen wie ein Schnitzel
Literal translation: to be as happy as a Schnitzel (a seasoned and breaded veal cutlet)
Germans love to talk about things they know well — and meat is surely one of those things! To ask about a cutlet’s current mood might be too much of a metaphysical question, but we can confirm that the joy you feel when you see a proper Schnitzel on your plate is a very real thing. Good food often equals happiness!
Die ganze Welt umarmen können
Literal translation: to be able to hug everybody
Awww… what a nice feeling!! When you feel really happy, like on one of those days where you can’t stop smiling and you wear all the colors of the rainbow and you feel the music inside you — don’t you kinda wanna hug E VE R Y B O D Y? I hope this feeling lasts long and I hope it’s contagious, I really do!
Sich freuen wie ein Schneekönig
Literal translation: to be as happy as a snow king
Germans love to talk about things they know well. Oh, wait, this sounds familiar! So yeah, you will certainly hear more than one idiom associated with snow, sausages, Apfelstrudel or beer. For real!
Avoir la patate
Literal translation: to have the potato
It also works with having la banane (the banana) or la pêche (the peach). The potato was chosen because its shape is reminiscent of a person’s head. The head symbolizes acting intelligently and doing things the right way. Avoir la patate is used when someone is energetic and acts with vitality.
Se sentir comme un coq en pâte
Literal translation: to feel like a rooster in dough
I think this expression requires further explanation: Apparently, in the 19th century, the best looking roosters would be presented by farmers in a sort of beauty contest. For the birds to look even better, they would rub a sort of dough all over them to make their feathers shine. This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? That’s why the meaning of this expression today is something like “to feel great.”
Estar tan alegre como unas castañuelas
Literal translation: to be as happy as castanets
The good thing about castanets is that, apart from being an instrument, they are a component of dance, too. Castanets are often used in flamenco dancing, and the movements and the sound they produce will make you cheerful for sure!
Y fueron felices y comieron perdices
Literal translation: and they were happy and they ate partridges
This is the Spanish version of “and they lived happily ever after.” Not only does felices (plural of feliz, “happy”) rhyme with perdices, but the origin of the expression traces back to when partridges were an expensive delicacy that only the upper classes could afford. The birds are notoriously difficult to hunt so getting one on a plate, either by skilled marksmanship or gold coin, meant it was probably a special occasion — like the happy ending of a fairytale, for instance. I can’t think of a better way to finish this story!