Klingon idioms

An idiom is a combination of words that have a figurative meaning different from the literal meaning. As opposed to slang, these phrases are used in daily speech. Most Klingon idioms are explained in The Klingon Way and Klingon for the Galactic Traveler. Quote from KGT, p. 108 (1):

Hoch jaghpu'Daj HoHbogh SuvwI' yIvup
Pity the warrior who slays all his foes (G'trok)

Klingons are sometimes aware of the source of an expression, as is the case with the line from G'Trok just noted, but more often the origin of the phrase is known only to scholars or is lost altogether. In the list that follows, the sources or probable sources of the idioms are given when possible. There are a great many idioms other than the ones in this list, but the collection here should give the visitor a good start on speaking the language in a way that sounds natural.

List of idioms

The following list contains more idioms, but less information than the above mentioned list in KGT.

Idiom Literal translation Source Meaning
bIQ ngaS HIvje' The cup contains water KGT p. 120 be quite mistaken, be totally wrong
bIQ'a'Daq 'oHtaH 'etlh'e' the sword is in the ocean KGT p. 121 is used to mean that something has ended, that it is impossible to return to a prior condition
bo'DaghHom lo' use a little scoop KGT p. 125 make less of something than it really is, minimize the importance of something, with the connotation that this is inappropriate.
bo'Dagh'a' lo' use a big scoop KGT p. 125 exaggerate: qaHarbe'. bo'Dagh'a' Dalo'. I don't believe you, you're exaggerating.
cha' DoSmey DIqIp we hit two targets KGT p. 104 We disagree.
cha' qabDu' two faces KGT p. 123 means that two individuals are involved in some activity and no one else is; face-to-face; Suv cha' qabDu'. They are fighting one-on-one; cf. qabDu' law'.
cha'maH cha' joQDu' twenty-two ribs KGT p. 126 is used to indicate that something is missing or not quite right; naDev cha'maH cha' joQDu' tu'lu'. There is something out of the ordinary going on here, even if no one can say exactly what; cha'maH cha' joQDu' ghaj qama' suggests that the prisoner is somehow a bit strange.
Doq bIQtIq(bIQ) the river (water) is red KGT p. 123 means that something momentous has happened, perhaps a major victory.
DoS chIl lose the target qep'a' 2008 digress
Dujmey law' chIjpu' has navigated many ships KGT p. 115 be experienced: Dujmey law' DachIjpu'. You are experienced.
ghaH vuv SuS neH want the wind to respect someone KGT p. 122 He/she is foolish: Duvuv SuS DaneH'a'? Are you an idiot?
ghe'torvo' narghDI' qa'pu' when spirits escape from Gre'thor KGT p. 117 To speak of spirits escaping from Gre'thor is to speak of an impossibility. The phrase usually follows the statement of what it is that supposedly cannot happen: jIjegh ghe'torvo' narghDI' qa'pu'. I will surrender when spirits escape from Gre'thor.
ghIchwIj DabochmoHchugh ghIchlIj qanob If you shine my nose I will give you your nose PK Don't try to fool me!
Ha'quj nge' take away a sash KGT p. 123 wound one's pride: Ha'qujlIj nge' ghaH. He wounds your pride.
Hoch jaghpu'Daj HoHpu' he/she has killed all his/her enemies KGT p. 107 used to describe a person who is leading a meaningless, empty life, one lacking any challenge.
Hoch nuH qel consider every weapon KGT p. 108 Consider every possibility; Consider every option: Hoch nuH yIqel! Consider every possibility! Hoch nuH Daqel'a'? Did you consider every option?
Hom use the second toe
see ➞ toes
HQ 10:2, p. 7-11 Pointing one's second toe at someone (typically an opponent or an enemy) with the other toes pointing downward is considered an insulting gesture; jaghwI'Daq jIHom. I claim my enemy is unworthy or weak.
jej pach The claw is sharp. KGT p. 126 The food is pungent - that is, good.
jejHa' pach The claw is dull. KGT p. 126 The food is bland.
jop 'ej way' lunge and deflect KGT p. 115 have an argument: wIjoppu' 'ej wIway'pu'. We have had an argument.
jISum I am close HQ 7:4 a philosophical statement: I am in touch with my inner self
latlh HIvje'Daq 'Iw HIq bIr yIqang Pour the cold bloodwine into another glass! KGT p. 118 I don't believe you, maybe someone else will; That is irrelevant to me, maybe someone else will care.
maj ram good, (it is) night KGT p. 119 Good, it is night.
may' bom pIm bom sing a different battle song KGT p. 118 speak of another matter entirely: DaH may' bom pIm Dabom. Well, that's another matter altogether.
mevyap Stop, (it is) enough KGT p. 113 Stop! Cease!
mIv je DaS helmet and boot KGT p. 108 fully dressed, as for a ceremonial affair: mIv je DaS tuQ ra'wI'. The commander is in full dress uniform.
mIvDaq pogh cha' display a glove on one's helmet KGT p. 125 is used to convey the idea that a matter has been postponed or rescheduled; the phrase can be heard in a number of forms, depending on the parties to the commitment. For example, mIvwIjDaq poghlIj vIcha' implies that the postponed matter is between the speaker and the addressee.
naH jajmey vegetable days KGT p. 110 refers to one's youth, a time before reaching an age considered appropriate for marriage; naH jajmeywIj betleH vIyanbe' In my vegetable days, I did not wield a bat'leth.
narghpu' 'eb the opportunity has escaped ste 1998.01.18 It's too late.
notlh tonSaw'lIj your fighting technique is obsolete qep'a' 2012 Your argument is invalid.
ngaQ lojmIt The door is locked KGT p. 108 1. The situation has an unavoidable outcome;
2. The plan or commitment is firm and cannot be changed.
ngem Sarghmey tlha' chase forest sarks KGT p. 111 The phrase often in the form ngem Sarghmey tlha'laH is now used to indicate that one is capable of following anyone or anything - that is, that one is capable of understanding even the most complex of discussions or of solving the most intricate of problems.
pel'aQDaj ghorpa' before it breaks its shell KGT p. 124 before it's too late; while there's still time; pel'aQDaj ghorpa' qama yIHoH. Kill the prisoner now, while you've got a chance.
petaD / yItaD Be frozen! KGT p. 117 Don't move!
pe'vIl bI'chu' forcefully sweep away KGT p. 112 do something at once, as a single event; romuluSnganpu' Dujmey DIQaw'pu'; pe'vIl DIbI'chu'pu'. We destroyed the Romulans' ships all at once.
pe'vIl roS use the third toe forcefully
see ➞ toes
HQ 10:2, p. 7-11 conveys the idea that someone is particularly agile or nimble or spry.
pIpyuS yIghor Break a pipius! TKW p. 185 used as a command to tell someone, often a child, to get started on or to devote more effort to a project.
pollaH pagh polHa'laH can either keep it or discard it KGT p. 116 The matter is unimportant; It does not make a difference: DapollaH pagh DapolHa'laH.
pumDI' when it falls HQ 8:4, p. 9 by that time, by the time that (something) occurred: tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' Heghpu' qagh. The guest finally arrived, but by then the gagh had died.
qabDu' law' many faces KGT p. 123 may be used to refer to a group participating in a single activity. Thus, a brawl may be described by saying: Suv qabDu' law'; cf. cha' qabDu'.
qagh HoH kill gagh KGT p. 118 The phrase is applied to a person and means that he or she is doing something counterproductive: SuyDuj DaQaw'chugh qagh DaHoH. That is, destroying the merchant ship is contrary to the best interests of the current mission.
qan use the little finger
see ➞ fingers
HQ 10:2, p. 7-11 to point your pinkie at someone is to comment that you think they are old; qI'empeqDaq jIqan. I think that K'mpec is old.
qul DIr yISop! Eat the fire skin! KGT p. 110 Hurry up! Move quickly!
quSDaq ba' sit in a chair KGT p. 124 that's obvious: quSDaq bIba'. What you said is quite obvious.
qutluch patlh kut'luch rank KGT p. 110 hierarchical structure.
ro'lIj HI'ang Show me your fist! KGT p. 195 used to challenge someone to take action in a manner consistent with something he or she just said.
SenwI' rIlwI' je adult thumbs and children thumbs HQ-10.2.8 everybody
Soj food HQ 12:3 matter, concern, affair: tlhIngan Soj 'oH -- not bIyaj. It is a Klingon matter -- you'll never understand.
SuD veqlargh mInDu' Fek'lhr's eyes are green HQ 8.3, p. 4 somebody is jealous!
Sum: jISum I am close HQ 7:4 a philosophical statement: I am in touch with my inner self
tIngvo' 'evDaq chanDaq from area-southwestward to area-northwestward to area eastward stk 21.11.1999 all around, all over the place; tIngvo' 'evDaq chanDaq jIlengpu'. I've traveled all over the place.
to'waQ yIv chew ligament KGT p. 119 take some time to consider a matter: to'waQ yIyIv. Take your time thinking about it! to'waQ vIyIvtaH. I'm in the process of taking my time considering the matter. to'waQ yIyIvQo'; DaH yIwuq. _Don't chew ligament, decide now!
vaDjaj yaDDu'lIj! May your toes be flexible HQ 10:2 p. ? good fortune wishes
vaj Duj chIj navigate a warrior ship KGT p. 113 have strength of character: vaj Duj DachIj You have strength of character.
vIHtaH gho The hoop is moving KGT p. 111 means that an activity of finite (though perhaps indeterminate) length has started: bISop DaneH'a'? vIHtaH gho. If you want to eat, say so now before the food is gone.
wa' DoS wIqIp we hit one target KGT p. 105 We agree.
wa'maH cha' pemmey wa'maH cha' rammey je twelve days and twelve nights KGT p. 121 a long time; means not only that the length of the event is long but also that the event is an important one, worthy of taking up so much time.
wa'maH wej thirteen qephom 2014 It's complicated.
wa' wa' wa' one one one qephom 2014 It's complicated.
yItaD / petaD Be frozen! KGT p. 117 Don't move!
'arlogh Qoylu'pu' How many times has someone heard it? HQ 8:1, p. 7-12 What time is it?
'IwwIj jeD law' 'IwlIj jeD puS My blood is thicker than yours PK I am much stronger than you.
'oy'qu' Qay'wI'wIj My little toe aches a lot
see ➞ toes
HQ 10:2, p. 7-11 I'm extremely angry.

See also


1 : Klingon for the Galactic Traveler p. 108

External Links

The first version of this page
originated in the old KLI wiki. ➞ see list
Category: Phrases    Latest edit: 24 Nov 2020, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 16 Mar 2014 by KlingonTeacher
History: r19 < r18 < r17 < r16 - View wiki text
The Klingon Language Wiki is a private fan project to promote the Klingon language. See Copyright notice for details.