Sayings and proverbs are very popular in Turkey and the FT team have been exploring the role they play in everyday conversation.

We think that these offer fascinating insights into Turkish culture, so we’d like to share some of them with you.

Since Adam was a lad

These idioms are commonly used expressions and, even though many are so ancient their origins are lost in the mists of time, they still mirror the soul of this extraordinary country.

Anyone who spends some time among Turkish people will quickly realise that there are rich variety of proverbs, witticisms and idioms, suitable for every occasion.

They may also notice that while some are not dissimilar to their British counterparts, others seem to be very obscure indeed.

Under the Turkish skin

In order to understand the deeper meaning of a Turkish atasözü, or saying, it is not only necessary to understand Turkish it is also important to have a grasp of Turkish culture, history and customs.

One thing that any visitor to Turkey will soon notice is that yogurt plays a very important role in the country’s diet.

Served at breakfast, lunch and dinner, no meal is complete without a helping of Turkish yogurt.

It appear’s that the same applies to Anatolian sayings.

yogurt idioms

It has been such a vital part of the Turkish diet over millennia that today there are many idioms about a whole range of subjects that have yogurt at their core.

A taste of yogurt

Here are just a few for starters:

Zemheride yoğurt isteyen, cebinde bir inek taşır”

Literal translation: who wants yoghurt in winter must carry a cow in his pocket.

Meaning: If you want something difficult, you must be willing to take the trouble to obtain it.

Her yiğidin bir yoğurt yiyişi vardır”

Literal translation: every man has his own style of eating yogurt.

Meaning: we all have different way of doing things and we must be tolerant of others

Sütten ağzı yanan, yoğurdu üfleyerek yer”

Literal translation: one who burns his mouth from drinking milk too hot, eats even yogurt carefully.

Meaning: this is used to make the point that life’s bad experiences teach people to be cautious.

Next week: idioms served with a cup of Turkish coffee


  1. […] Yogurt is an incredibly important part of Turkish culture and Ayran, described a few years ago by the country’s President, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan, as Turkey’s national drink, is certainly the healthiest soft beverages, especially when compared with the chemical filled commercial alternatives. […]