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Long-haired man sticking his tongue out

My tongue has grown hair

September has been a whirlwind hence the short delay in publishing this month’s contribution. Nevertheless, I am glad to welcome back our guest blogger Katja Kirmizakis – a conference interpreter working with German, English and Greek. Katja is introducing another idiom from her native Greece.

The idiom in translation: My tongue has grown hair

The idiom in its original language: Μαλλιασε η γλώσσα μου (málliase I glóssa mou)

Language: Greek

The idiom’s meaning: I’ve said it a million times / I’ve talked myself dry

Why hairy?

This phrase is usually used in exasperation. For example, when you are trying to convince or remind someone of something and they just don’t seem to listen. It may seem quite funny to imagine that the tongue has been going at it for so long that – as is done in cartoons to indicate the passing of time – it has basically sprouted a beard or at least a five-o-clock shadow.

However, the origins of this idiom are actually quite dark – and somewhat unrelated to its modern use. It dates back to medieval times and the creative yet cruel torturing techniques of that era. If someone was caught ‘talking too much’ (i.e. saying things they weren’t supposed to), they were forced to chew on a hard, spikey weed until their tongue was shredded into fine threads – which looked a little bit like hair…

Now, how exactly this gruesome backstory turned into a rather humorous idiom is not clear. But if you think of chewing on the same words over and over to no effect as a punishment of its own, it does not seem so farfetched any more.


Katja Kirmizakis is a conference interpreter and translator working with German, English and Greek. She is a bilingual native speaker of German and Greek and a professional and experienced generalist, qualified and keen to immerse herself into any specialist field, ranging from business and politics to health, environment and energy.

You can find out more about or contact Katja at

Are you fascinated by idioms? This article offers some useful background information on what they are and how to use them.

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    1. Author

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      We have the same idiom exactly as it is ” my tongue has grown hair” in Farsi.

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