List of Thai language idioms

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Idioms in the Thai language are usually derived from various natural or cultural references. Many include rhyming and/or alliteration, and their distinction from aphorisms and proverbs are not always clear. This is a list of such idioms.

Idiom RTGS Literal translation Idiomatic meaning Notes
ก ข ไม่กระดิกหู ko kho mai kradik hu ko, kho (first two consonants of the Thai alphabet), not wiggling an ear an illiterate person[1]
กงเกวียนกำเกวียน kong kwian kam kwian cart wheel, cart spokes What one does will be returned by karma.[1]
ก้นกระดก kon kradok letting praise get the better of oneself[1]
กบในกะลาครอบ kop nai kala khrop frog underneath a coconut shell one who has little knowledge or experience but thinks of oneself as wise[1]
กบเลือกนาย kop lueak nai frogs being choosy of masters one who consistently wants to change superiors[1] from Aesop's The Frogs Who Desired a King
ก้มหน้า kom na bow down one's head to endure a difficult situation[1]
ก้มหน้าก้มตา kom na kokm ta bow down one's head and eyes to concentrate on something[1]
กรรมตามสนอง kam tam sanong what goes around comes around[citation needed]
กระชังหน้าใหญ่ krachang na yai big-faced awning brassy[1]
กระเชอก้นรั่ว krachoe kon rua bamboo basket with a leaky bottom being a spendthrift[1]
กระดังงาลนไฟ kradangnga lon fai singed Cananga odorata flower a woman who has been married before, and is therefore better at pleasing men[1]
กระดี่ได้น้ำ kradi dai nam gourami fish finding water a person showing a lot of gladness and excitement[1]
กระดูกแข็ง kraduk khaeng (having) hard bones not dying easily[1]
กระดูกร้องได้ kraduk rong dai calling bones a murder where certain effects lead to the conviction of the murderer[1]
กระดูกอ่อน kraduk on (having) soft bones having little fighting skills[1]
กระต่ายตื่นตูม kratai tuen tum panicking hare one who panics without giving due consideration[1] from the Daddabha Jataka tale of The Noise the Hare Heard
กระต่ายสามขา kratai sam kha three-legged hare steadfastly denying something[1] also appears as กระต่ายขาเดียว (kratai kha diao, one-legged hare)
กระต่ายหมายจันทร์ kratai mai chan hare wishing for the moon a man interested in a woman of higher status[1]
กระโถนท้องพระโรง krathon thong phra rong spittoon in a royal hall one who is consistently ordered by many people to run their errands[1]
กระหม่อมบาง kramom bang (having a) thin fontanelle/skull easily falling ill[1] also appears as ขม่อมบาง (khamom bang)
กลมเป็นลูกมะนาว klom pen luk manao round as a lime crafty and slippery[1] also appears as กลิ้งเป็นลูกมะนาว (kling pen luk manao, rolling like a lime)
กลับเนื้อกลับตัว klap nuea klap tua turn one's flesh and body to change one's bad ways for the better[1]
กลับหน้ามือเป็นหลังมือ klap na mue pen lang mue turn from the palm to the back of the hand to completely change for the opposite [1] also appears as พลิกหน้ามือเป็นหลังมือ (phlik na mue pen lang mue)
กล้านักมักบิ่น kla nak mak bin so bold, usually ends up chipped being too bold it usually results in danger[1]
กวนน้ำให้ขุ่น kuan nam hai khun stir water and make it cloudy to inflame a calm situation and cause disruption[1]
กว่าถั่วจะสุกงาก็ไหม้ kwa thua cha suk nga ko mai By the time the beans cook, the sesame seeds have burnt. being indecisive, resulting in losses from failure to act[1]
ก่อแล้วต้องสาน ko laeo tong san start it, must weave it One must finish what one begins.[1]
กะลา kala coconut shell worthless[1]
กัดหางตัวเอง kat hang tua eng bite one's own tail speaking incoherently[1]
กาคาบพริก ka khap prik crow holding a chilli pepper in its mouth a dark-skinned person wearing bright red clothes[1]
กาหลงรัง ka long rang lost crow in another's nest one who refuses to return home; a tramp[1]
กำขี้ดีกว่ากำตด kam khi di kwa kam tot Better to grab faeces than flatulence. Receiving anything is better than nothing at all.[1]
กำแพงมีหูประตูมีตา kamphaeng mi hu pratu mi ta Walls have ears, doors have eyes. One should always mind their conduct; secrets can be revealed.[1] also appears as กำแพงมีหูประตูมีช่อง (kamphaeng mi hu pratu mii chong; walls have ears, doors have cracks)
กำลังกินกำลังนอน kamlang kin kamlang non eating and sleeping (of infants/toddlers) being of eating and sleeping age[1]
กิ่งก้อย king koi little finger tiny[1]
กิ่งทองใบหยก king thong bai yok gold branch, jade leaf (of a marrying couple) suited for each other[1]
กินเกลือกินกะปิ king kluea kin kapi eating salt and shrimp paste enduring trouble and poverty[1]
กินแกลบกินรำ kin klaep kin ram eating chaff and bran stupid[1]
กินข้าวต้มกระโจมกลาง kin khao tom krachom klang eat boiled rice from the middle (of the bowl) to do something in a hurry and without deliberation, resulting in harm[1]
กินตามน้ำ kin tam nam eat by the water flow to receive gifts or bribes without actively asking[1]
กินที่ลับไขที่แจ้ง kin thi lap khai thi chaeng eat in secret, tell in public to publicize what was done in secret[1]
กินน้ำตา kin nam ta drink tears to cry, to be in sorrow[1]
กินน้ำตาต่างข้าว kin nam ta tang khao drink tears as a substitute for rice/food to be so engrossed in tears and sorrow one is not eating[1]
กินน้ำใต้ศอก kin nam tai sok drink water from another's elbows (usually of "minor wives") to be forced to accept subordinate status[1]
กินน้ำพริกถ้วยเก่า kin nam phrik thuai kao eat an old bowl of nam phrik to (return to) live with one's previous wife[1]
กินน้ำพริกถ้วยเดียว kin nam phrik thuai diao eat only one bowl of nam phrik to live with only one wife[1]
กินน้ำไม่เผื่อแล้ง kin nam mai phuea laeng drink water without sparing any for drought to spend what one has without consideration for the future[1]
กินน้ำเห็นปลิง kin nam hen pling drink water while seeing a leech to be disconcerted, as in when one means to drink water but sees a leech in it[1]
กินบนเรือนขี้บนหลังคา kin bon ruean khi bon langkha to eat in the house then defecate on the roof to be ungrateful[1]
กินบุญเก่า kin bun kao eat old merit to receive the results of good deeds from past lives; (of wealthy persons) to live off old wealth, e.g. inheritance[1]
กินปูนร้อนท้อง kin pun ron thong eat lime, feel the belly burn to act conspicuously (for fear of one's deeds being revealed)[1]
กินรังแตน kin rang taen eat a wasp nest to be irritable[1]
กินลมกินแล้ง kin lom kin laeng eat dry wind not having any benefit[1]
กินเศษกินเลย kin set kin loei to misappropriate a small portion for oneself[1]
กินสำรับ kin samrap eat from a served set to eat fine food[1]
กินเหมือนหมู อยู่เหมือนหมา kin muean mu yu muean ma eat like a pig, live like a dog messy and untidy[1] also appears as กินอย่างหมู อยู่อย่างหมา (kin yang mu yu yang ma)
กินเหล็กกินไหล kin lek kin lai eat iron, eat lai (a mythical metal) extraordinarily able to bear labour or pain[1]
กินอยู่กับปาก อยากอยู่กับท้อง kin yu kap pak yak yu kap thong to know but pretend not to[1]
กู่ไม่กลับ ku mai klap not returning after a yodelling call not listening to objections; unstoppable[1]
เก็บดอกไม้ร่วมต้น kep dok mai ruam ton pick flowers from the same tree to be together as a result of having made merit together in a previous life[1] also appears as เด็ดดอกไม้ร่วมต้น (det dok mai ruam ton)
เก็บเบี้ยใต้ถุนร้าน kep bia tai thun ran pick up cowry shells under the platform to make small savings[1]
เกลียดตัวกินไข่ เกลียดปลาไหลกินน้ำแกง kliat tua kin khai kliat pla lai kin nam kaeng hate the animal but eat its eggs, hate eels but drink the broth to dislike someone, yet want to receive benefits from them[1]
เกลือจิ้มเกลือ kluea chim kluea salt dipped in salt (of two persons) not conceding to each other[1]
เกลือเป็นหนอน kluea pen non salt becoming maggots betrayal by close family or friends[1] also appears as ไส้เป็นหนอน (sai pen non, innards becoming maggots)
เกี่ยวก้อย kiao koi hook (each other's) little fingers to show closeness or affection[1]
เกี่ยวแฝกมุงป่า kiao faek mung pa cutting vetiver grass to roof the forest to attempt something beyond one's abilities[1]
แกว่งเท้าหาเสี้ยน kwaeng thao ha sian swing one's foot in search of a splinter to get into trouble[1]
แกะดำ kae dam black sheep one who acts differently from the group[1]
ใกล้เกลือกินด่าง klai kluea kin dang near salt, eat lye not knowing the value of something readily accessible, instead opting for something inferior[1]
ไก่แก่แม่ปลาช่อน kai kae mae pla chon old chicken, mother snakehead fish a crafty old woman[1]
ไก่บินไม่ตกดิน kai bin mai tok din A chicken can fly without falling to the ground. an area of densely situated buildings[1]
ไก่รองบ่อน kai rong bon second-rated cock in the ring one who serves as a substitute and may be called into service[1]
ไก่เห็นตีนงู งูเห็นนมไก่ kai hen tin ngu ngu hen nom kai chicken sees snake's feet, snake sees chicken's breasts both knowing of each other's secrets[1]
ไก่อ่อน kai on young chick one who has little experience and is easily deceived[1] also appears as ไก่อ่อนสอนขัน (kai on son khan)
ไกลปืนเที่ยง klai puen thiang far from the noon cannon (of a person) simple, as a result of living far from development[1]
ขนหน้าแข้งไม่ร่วง khon na khaeng mai ruang shin hairs not falling off (of a wealthy person) not inconvenienced by having to pay a large, yet relatively small to them, amount of money[1]
ขนหัวลุก khon hua luk hairs of the head standing up very frightened or scared[1]
ขนทรายเข้าวัด khon sai khao wat carry sand into the wat to help benefit the public/community[1]
ขนมผสมน้ำยา khanom phasom nam ya khanom chin with nam ya sauce equal and befitting each other[1]
ข่มเขาโคขืนให้กินหญ้า khom khao kho khuen hai kin ya force cattle by its horns to eat grass to force someone to do as one wants[1]
ขมิ้นกับปูน khamin kap pun turmeric and lye (of two persons) argumentative when meeting each other; disliking each other[1]
ขว้างงูไม่พ้นคอ khwang ngu mai phon kho throw a snake no farther than one's own neck to do something resulting in negative consequences for oneself[1]
ขวานผ่าซาก khwan pha sak axe splitting a carcass (of a person's manner of speech) direct and inconsiderate[1]
ของหายตะพายบาป khong hai taphai bap to blame others when something is lost or missing[1]
ข้าเก่าเต่าเลี้ยง kha kao tao liang a long-familiar person; a long-serving servant[1]
ข้านอกเจ้าบ่าวนอกนาย kha nok chao bao nok nai one whose acts defy order or tradition[1]
ข้ามน้ำข้ามทะเล kham nam kham thale cross over water and sea to fight through obstacles in order to succeed[1] also appears as ข้ามน้ำข้ามท่า (kham nam kham tha)
ขายผ้าเอาหน้ารอด khai pha ao na rod sell cloth to save face to sacrifice important property to save one's name[1]
ขายหน้าวันละห้าเบี้ย khai na wan la ha bia to cause embarrassment every day[1]
ข้าวก้นบาตร khao kon bat rice at the bottom of an alms bowl food left over from monks' meals, which temple boys eat[1]
ข้าวแดงแกงร้อน khao daeng kaeng ron brown rice, hot soup kindness, favours[1]
ข้าวยากหมากแพง khao yak mak phaeng rice being difficult, areca nuts being expensive a state of famine[1]
ข้าวเหลือเกลืออิ่ม khao luea kluea im rice being in excess, salt being satiating a country with plentiful food[1]
ข้าวใหม่ปลามัน khao mai pla man new rice, tasty fish the state of something new being regarded as good; usually referring to newlyweds[1]
ขิงก็รา ข่าก็แรง khing ko ra kha ko raeng (of two persons) both being hot-tempered, neither one backing down[1]
ขี่ช้างจับตั๊กแตน khi chang chap takkataen ride an elephant to catch grasshoppers to invest a lot for little gains[1]
ขี้ก้อนใหญ่ให้เด็กเห็น khi kon yai hai dek hen defecate a large turd for a child to see to do something inappropriate in front of a child[1]
ขี้แพ้ชวนตี khi phae chuan ti loser calling for a fight to be a sore loser[1]
ขี้ไม่ให้หมากิน khi mai hai ma kin defecate and refuse it for dogs to eat to be a miser[1]
ขี้ราดโทษล่อง khi rat thot long make a mess and blame the toilet hole to blame others for one's own fault[1]
ขึ้นต้นไม้สุดยอด khuen ton mai sut yot climb a tree to the very top to reach the highest possible rank[1]
ขุดด้วยปากถากด้วยตา khut duai pak thak duai ta dig with the mouth, scrape with the eyes to display contempt with words and looks[1]
ขุดดินกินหญ้า khut din kin ya dig the earth, eat the grass to do what little work which just feeds oneself[1]
ขุดบ่อล่อปลา khut bo lo pla dig a pond, lure the fish to plot and deceive others for one's own benefit[1]
ขุนนางใช่พ่อแม่ หินแง่ใช่ตายาย khun nang chai pho mae hin ngae chai ta yai Nobles are not one's parents; rough stones are not one's grandparents. One should not trust others apart from one's parents and grandparents.[1]
ขุนไม่เชื่อง khun mai chueang fed but not tame ungrateful[1] also appears as ขุนไม่ขึ้น (khun mai khuen)
เข็นครกขึ้นเขา khen khrok khuen khao push a rice pounder up a hill to engage in an extremely difficult task requiring a lot of effort and patience, sometimes beyond one's capacity[1]
เข้าด้ายเข้าเข็ม khao dai khao khem in the thread and the needle almost succeeding, but susceptible to be foiled by a small mistake or interruption[1]
เข้าตามตรอกออกตามประตู khao tam trok ok tam pratu enter by the street, exit by the door to follow tradition in asking to marry[1]
เข้าเถื่อนอย่าลืมพร้า khao thuean ya luem phra enter the forest, do not forget the machete to be cautious[1]
เข้ารกเข้าพง khao rok khao phong go into the bushes to say or do something unrelated or incorrectly as a result of lack of expertise[1]
เข้าหูซ้ายทะลุหูขวา kjap hu sai thalu hu khwa enter the left ear, go throughout the right not learning what one is taught[1]
เขียนด้วยมือลบด้วยตีน khian duai mue lop duai tin write with the hand, erase with the foot to praise but then later destroy[1]
เขียนเสือให้วัวกลัว khian suea hai wua klua draw a tiger to scare the cattle to do something to frighten the other party[1]
เขียว ๆ แดง ๆ khiao khiao daeng daeng green and red colourfully dressed women[1]
แขกไม่ได้รับเชิญ khaek mai dai rap choen uninvited guest undesirable people or animals likely to cause damage or inconvenience, usually referring to thieves or certain animals[1]
แข่งกับเวลา khaeng kap wela race with time to do something quickly[1]
แข่งเรือแข่งแพแข่งได้ แข่งบุญแข่งวาสนาแข่งไม่ได้ khaeng ruea khaeng phae khaeng dai khaeng bun khaeng watsana khaeng mai dai Competing in boat racing, can be done; competing in fate and fortune, cannot be done. to know one's own abilities and not attempt what is incapable of[1]
แขวนนวม khwaen nuam hang boxing gloves retire from boxing; quit doing something[1]
ไข่ในหิน khai nai hin egg in the rock something which is meticulously cared for[1]
สมน้ำหน้า som nam na You get what you deserve[citation needed]
การบีบเลือดจากปู gaan bèep lêuat jàak bpoo to squeeze blood from a crab attempting to obtain something from somebody (especially money) that they do not have or cannot give up