Greek Language Blog

Do you have crabs in your pockets? (Fish and Seafood Idioms) Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Vocabulary


by Klearchos Kapoutis on

by Klearchos Kapoutis on

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and seafood. In Greece, not only do we eat seafood, but we use it in many idioms and expressions, too. In this article there’s a list of some popular fishy phrases. The English translation is not always accurate because it’s not possible to translate these expressions literally. Most of them have more than one definition.


  • Μάτι γαρίδα (το) 
    1. The words literally mean: Μάτι (mati) eye. / Γαρίδα (garida)shrimp
    2. The expression is also used when we have insomnia.

Ex: Χθες  το βράδυ δεν κοιμήθηκα. Είχε πάει πέντε το πρωί και το μάτι μου γαρίδα! (Hthes to xrady den koimithika. Ihe paei pente to proi kai to mati mou garida.)

I didn’t sleep last night. It was five o’ clock and my eyes were opened like a shrimp’s eyes.

  • Γόπα (η) (Gopa, g is soft). 

    Boops boops fish (by BioDivLibrary on

    Boops boops fish (by BioDivLibrary on

1. The word literally means: Boops boops (a type of fish)

2. It can also be used to mean: a cigarette end.

Ex:  Πάμε κάπου αλλού. Εδώ η παραλία είναι γεμάτη γόπες . (Pame kapou alou. Edo I paralia ine gemati gopes.)

Let’s go somewhere else. The beach is full of cigarette ends.


  • Kαρχαρίας  (ο) (Karharias)

1. The word literally means: shark

2. It can also be used to mean: a very rich businessman who is weak on his ethics

Ex:  Γνωστοί καρχαρίες διαπραγματεύονται την αγορά του ραδιοφωνικού σταθμού. (Gnosti karharies diapragmatevonte thn agora tou radiofonikou stathmou)

Well-known “sharks” negotiate the radio station purchase.

  • (Έχω) καβούρια στις τσέπες  (Eho kavouria stis tsepes) To have crabs in my pockets.

1. The word Καβούρι (το) or κάβουρας (ο) (kavouri, kavouras) literally means crab.

2. The expression “to have crabs in your pocket” can also mean “to be stingy”.


Ο Γιώργος  δεν έκανε δώρο στον Τάσο και τη Ρέα για το γάμο τους. (O Yiorgos den ekane doro ston Tasso kai ti Rea gia to gamo tous)

– George didn’t give a wedding present to Tasso and Rea.

Αφού ο άνθρωπος έχει καβούρια στις τσέπες! (Afou o anthropos ehei kavouria stis tsepes tou)

–  (That’s because) the man has crabs in his pockets!


  • Μαρίδα (η) (marida)

1. The word literally means: picarel (type of fish)

2. It can also mean: a group of kids.

Ex: Ο Αντρέας νοίκιασε το διαμέρισμα απέναντι από την παιδική χαρά και η μαρίδα δεν τον αφήνει να ησυχάσει! (O Andreas nikiase to diamerisma apenanti apo tin paidiki hara kai  I marida den ton afinei na isihasei)

Andreas rented the apartment opposite the playground and the kids who play there don’t let him in peace.


  • Κολλάω σα στρείδι (Kolao sa stridi)

1. The words literally mean: Κολλάω= to glue / to intrude .  Στρείδι (το) : oyster

2. The expression is used for a person who tags along with the  others.

Ex: Ο μικρός αδερφός της Ειρήνης δεν την αφήνει να βγει με τους φίλους της . Της κολλάει σα στρείδι.  (O micros aderfos tis Irinis den tin afini na vgei me tous filous tis.

Irini’s younger brother doesn’t let her go out with her friends. He tags along with her.


  • Χάνος (ο) (hanos) 

    Comber fish (by Valter Jacinto on

    Comber fish (by Valter Jacinto on

1. The word literally means: comber (type of fish)

2. It can also be used to mean: naïve and easily deceived

Ex:  Της είπαν ότι αυτό το ρολόι κοστίζει 20000 και αυτή το έχαψε σα χάνος.  (Tis eipan oti afto to roloi kostizei eikosi hiliades kai afti to ehapse sa hanos)

She was told that this watch costs 20000 and she fell for that.


  • Χταπόδι (το) (htapodi)

1. The word literally means: octopus

2. It can also mean: a persistent man who cannot keep his hands off a woman


Πέρασες καλά χθες το βράδυ; (Perases kala hthes to vrady?)

– Did you have a nice time last night?

Μπα… Έπεσα πάνω στο Μανώλη, το χταπόδι. Ήπια ένα ποτό κι έφυγα. (Ba… Epesa pano sto Manoli, to htapodi. Ipia ena poto ki efyga)

– Nah… I bumped into Manolis, the octopus. I had a drink and left.


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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.


  1. Gian luca Bettini:

    No I havn’t crabs in my pockets. My wife says that my hands are pierced!!!

  2. Francesco:

    Amazing. I live in Venice, Italy and in our slang we also say “Ti ga i gransipori in scarsea” (do you have crabs in your pocket)

    • Ourania:

      @Francesco Thank you for your comment, it’s very interesting! Maybe we got this expression from the Venetians who lived in Greece.