Variations (by ethnicity) of the old English phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”

  • BulgarianИ вълкът сит, и агнето цяло – Both the wolf is full, and the lamb is whole.
  • BosnianNe možeš imati i jare i pare.You can’t have both goatling and money.
  • CzechAby se vlk nažral a koza zůstala celá – The wolf is full and the goat stayed whole.
  • Chinese又要马儿跑,又要马儿不吃草' (pinyinYòu yào mǎr pǎo, yòu yào mǎr bu chī cǎo.) – To want a horse that both runs fast and consumes no feed; or 魚與熊掌不可兼得 from Mencius – You cannot have both the fish and the bear’s paw (as a rare delicacy) at the same time.
  • DanishMan kan ikke både blæse og have mel i munden – You cannot both blow and have flour in your mouth.
  • DutchJe moet kiezen of delen – is based on card games such as Bridge or Whist where one can either pass or choose a game. In case you’re the last, you have to choose a game or the cards are discarded and redealt. In case your hand is just not good enough, you have to choose to play a game and potentially lose it, or discard a potentially winning hand. Both are impossible, you can’t have it both ways.
  • FrenchVouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre – to want the butter and the money from (selling) the butter. The idiom can be emphasized by adding Frenchet le sourire de la crémière (and the smile of the female buttermaker).
  • Germanwasch’ mich, aber mach mich nicht naß! – please wash me, but don’t get me wet!.
    • SwitzerlandDu chasch nit dr Füfer und s Weggli ha – you can’t have the five cent coin and a Swiss bread roll.
  • GreekΚαι την πίτα ολόκληρη και τον σκύλο χορτάτο – you want the entire pie and the dog full.
  • Hebrewאי אפשר לאכול את העוגה ולהשאיר אותה שלמה‎ – you can’t eat the cake and keep it whole.
  • HungarianOlyan nincs, hogy a kecske is jól lakjon, és a káposzta is megmaradjon. – It is impossible that the goat has enough to eat and the cabbage remains as well. Also, HungarianEgy fenékkel nem lehet két lovat megülni. – It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt. (The meaning is similar to the Russian translation.)
  • ItalianAvere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca – to have the barrel full and the wife drunk.
  • Nepaldubai haat ma laddu – having laddu (a sweet candy) in both your hands.
  • PapiamentuSkohe of lag’i skohe – choose or let choose.
  • Persianهم خر را خواستن و هم خرما را‎ – wanting both the donkey and the sugar-dates.
  • PolishWilk syty i owca cała – The wolf is full, and the lamb [is] whole.
  • PortugueseQuerer ter sol na eira e chuva no nabal – Wanting the sun shine on the threshing floor, while it rains on the turnip field.
  • RomanianNu poți împăca și capra și varza – You can’t reconcile the goat and the cabbage.
  • RussianИ рыбку съесть, и в воду не лезть – wanting to eat a fish without first catching it from the waters.[18]
  • SloveneVolk sit in koza cela - The wolf [is] full, and the lamb [is] whole.
  • SerbianНе можеш да имаш и јаре и паре – You can’t have both goatling and money.
  • SpanishQuerer estar en Misa y en procesión – wishing to be both at Mass and in the procession, and Spanishestar en Misa y repicando (or Spanishestar en Misa y tocar la campana – to be both at Mass and in the belfry, bell-ringing.
    • ArgentinaSpanishla chancha y los veinte – the pig and the twenties. (Comes from the old piggybanks for children that used to contain coins of 20 cents. The only way to get the coins was to break the piggybank open – hence the phrase. This can be emphasized by adding Spanishy la máquina de hacer chorizos – and the machine to make sausage.
  • Tamilமீசைக்கும் ஆசை கூழுக்கும் ஆசை – desire to have both the moustache and to drink the porridge.

May 22, 2013 392 Share this

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  1. returnoftrainerred reblogged this from goodbyemisery
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  5. permazorch reblogged this from imranalimalik and added:
    Porridge mustache.
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  10. 101st-analborne reblogged this from bradkey and added:
    "It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt."
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  20. jellyfishdirigible reblogged this from teratocybernetics and added:
    "Have your cake and eat it too" always struck me as a bit nonsense. What’s the point of having cake if not to eat it?
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