When pigs fly

Cincinnati flying pig

The idioms of this page are used to indicate that something is highly unlikely ever to happen, or that it will never happen. This phrase is thought to come from an old Scottish proverb.

An unofficial symbol of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio in the USA is a flying pig, partly a result of Cincinnati's associations with the pig trade during the 19th century.

Language Idiom
Arabic (fil mushmush) في المشمش
in the season of the apricot (a very short season)
Arabic (Algerian) عندما يزهر الملح في بلادنا
when salt blossoms in my country
Arabic (Egyptian) لمّا توقف على عيدك
When you stand on your hand
Arabic (Moroccan) (ila tarat maza) الا طارت معزة
If goats fly
(nhar limando khoh) النهار لمعندو خوه
The day doesn’t have a brother
Belarusian Як воўк брахаць хвастом будзе (Jak voŭk brahać hvastom budz′e)
Like a wolf wagging its tail
Bosnian Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe
When grapes rippen on the willow
Bulgarian На куково лято (Na kukovo ljato)
In a cuckoo summer
Catalan Quan les vaques volin
When cows fly
La setmana dels tres dijous
The week with 3 Thursdays
Chinese 除非太陽從西邊出來 [除非太阳从西边出来] (chúfēi tàiyáng cóng xībiān chūlái)
Unless the sun would rise from the West
Croatian Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe
When grapes rippen the on willow
Na sveto nigdarjevo
On St. Nobody's day
Czech Až naprší a uschne
After it rains and dries
Až na svatého Dyndy / Na svatého Dyndy
On the St. Elsewhen's day
'Dyndy' is a non-existent name in Czech, rhyming with the Czech word 'jindy', meaning some other time.
Danish Når helvede fryser til is
When hell freezes over
Når der er to torsdage i en uge
When there's two Thursdays in a week
Dutch Wanneer Pasen en Pinksteren op één dag vallen
When Easter and Whitsun fall on the same day
Met Sint Juttemis
With St. Juttemis (an imaginary saint)
Als de kalveren op het ijs dansen
If the calves dance on ice
Als de uilen preken
If the owls preach
English When pigs fly / and pigs might fly
When hell freezes over
On a cold day in hell
Not in a month of Sundays
Esperanto En la triĵaŭda semajno
On the week with three thursdays
Estonian Kui sead lendavad
When pig's fly
Finnish Kun helvetti jäätyy
When hell freezes over
Kun lehmät lentävät
When cows fly
Kun lipputangot kukkivat
When flagpoles bloom
French Quand les poules auront des dents
When chicken have teeth
la semaine des 4 jeudis
the week with 4 Thursdays - (French school children used to get Thursdays off)
à la Saint Glinglin
On Saint Glinglin's day (an imaginary saint)
Dans la semaine des quatre jeudis
In the week of the four Thursdays
German Wenn Ostern und Pfingsten auf einen Tag fallen
When Easter and Whistun fall on the same day
Am Sankt Nimmerleinstag / an Sankt Nimmerlein
On Saint Never's day / on Saint Never
Wenn die Hölle zufriert
When Hell freezes over
Wenn es im Sommer schneit
When it snows in summer
Hindi sooraj pashchim se ugega
When the sun will rise in the west
Hungarian Majd ha piros hó esik
When it's snowing red snowflakes
Majd ha cigánygyerekek potyognak az égből
When gipsy children are streaming from the sky
Majd ha a pokol befagy
When Hell freezes over
Irish Nuair a thitfidh an spéir an talamh
When the sky falls to the ground
Nuair a thiocfaidh an lá inné ar ais
When yesterday comes again
Italian Alle calende greche
By the Greek calendar
Quando voleranno gli asini
When donkeys will fly
Quando Pasqua viene a maggio
When Easter falls in May
L'anno del mai / L'anno del mai e il mese del poi
The year of never and the month of then
Nella settimana dei due giovedì
In the week with two thursdays
Quanno pisceno le galline
When hens piss (Roman dialect)
Korean 귀신 씨나락 까먹는 소리 (gwishin ssinarak kkamuhkneun sori)
The sound of a ghost eating rice seeds
개 풀 뜯어먹는 소리 (gaehpul tteuduhmuhkneun sori)
The sound of a dog grazing
Latin Ad kalendas Graecas
on the Greek Kalends - unlike the Roman calendar,
Kalends did not feature in the Greek calendar, so this phrase
is roughly equivalent to "at British Thanksgiving"
(Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK).
Latvian Kad pūcei aste ziedēs
When the owl's tail blossoms
Kad slotaskātam lapas plauks
When the broomstick's leaves open
Luxembourgish Wann Päischten op Neijôrsdag fällt
When Whistun and New Year's Day fall on the same day
Macedonian Кога врбата ќе роди грозје (Koga vrbata ke rodi grozye)
When grapes will grow on willows
На куково лето (Na kukovo leto)
In the year of the cuckoo
Malayalam Kakka malannu parakkum
The crow will fly upside down
Norwegian Når griser flyr
When pigs fly
Når det snør i helvete
When it's snowing in hell
Occitan Quand las galinas pissaran
When hens will pee
Odia ଆକାଶ କଇଆଁ ଚିଲିକା ମାଛ (ākāso kaiā̃ chilikā māchho)
The tamarind from the sky will be brought to cook the fish from the Chilika lake
Persian (Farsi) (vaghte gole ney) وقت گل نی
Polish Na Święty Nigdy
on Saint Never's Day
Kiedy mi kaktus na ręku wyrośnie
When the cactus will grow on my hand
Portuguese Quando a vaca tussa / quando a vaca tossir
When the cow coughs
No Dia de São Nunca
On Saint Never's day
Romanian la Paştele cailor
at horses' Easter
la Sfântu-aşteaptă
on Saint Wait's day/at Saint Wait
când o zbura porcul
when the pig should fly
când o face plopul pere
when the linden tree bears pears
când o face plopul pere şi răchita micşunele
when the linden tree bears pears and the willow wall-flowers
când mi-oi vedea ceafa
when I'll see the back of my head
La Paştele cailor şi la nunta vacilor
At Easter of the horses and at the wedding of the cows
Russian Когда рак на горе свистнет (Kogda rak na gore svisnet)
When the crayfish on the hill whistles
Scots Whaun twa munes in the lift sall shine
When two moons in the sky shall shine
Serbian Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe
When grapes grow on willows
Slovenian Ob svetem nikoli
On Saint Never's Day
Spanish Cuando las ranas críen pelo
When frogs grow hair
El día del arquero
Goalkeeper's day
Cuando llueva para arriba
When it rains upwards
Swedish När grisar flyger
When pigs fly
När helvetet fryser till is
When hell freezes over
Hear these phrases
Tagalog Pagputi ng uwak
When the crow turns white
Pag-itim ng tagak
When the heron turns black
Thai ตอนเซเว่นปิด (ton sē wēn pit)
when the 7-11 is closed
ชาติหน้า (chāt nha)
next lifetime
Turkish Balık ağaca/kavağa çıkınca
When a fish climbs a poplar tree
Ukrainian коли рак на горі свисне (koly rak na gori svisne)
when the crayfish on the hill whistles
коли воша пчихне (koly voša pčyxne)
when louse will sneeze
Vietnamese (cho đến) Tết Marốc
(until a) Moroccan Tet (Tet is Vietnamese New Year)
Welsh Pan fydd moch yn hedfan
When pigs fly
Pan fydd uffern yn rhewi drosodd
When hell freezes over
Pan fydd 'Dolig yn yr haf, a gwsberis yn y gaeaf
When Christmas will be in the summer and goosberries in winter
Yoruba Ní ìgbátí adìẹ́ bá hu eyín
When the chicken has teeth

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It's all Greek to me | It's raining cats and dogs | As easy as falling off a log | A sandwich short of a picnic | It's small world | When pigs fly | Out of sight, out of mind | Crystal-clear | Practice makes perfect

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