• Ilinca Stroe

One word at a time: “Picior”

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One body part without which graceful activities such as dancing would be almost impossible is the key word in many useful Romanian phrases related to (kinds of) movement, walking, but also states or attitudes like irony, firmness, boastfulness, etc. That body part is picior, coming from Latin petiolus, and it can mean the foot or the whole leg, its plural form being picioare.

To make an idea of how productive this word has been in generating expressions, let’s go through the most frequent phrases with picior, with their translations into English and short clarifying examples:

Ÿ a o lua la picior = to start running

“Ce i-a spus Ionuţ profesoarei?” / “What did Ionuţ tell the teacher?”

“Nimic. A luat-o la picior când a văzut-o.” / “Nothing. He ran off when he saw her.”

Ÿ a fi iute de picior = to be swift on your feet

“Deşi am venit amândoi pe jos, am ajuns înaintea ta.” / “Although we both came on foot, I got here before you.”

“Da, eşti mai iute de picior decât mine.” /

Ÿ în picioare = standing

“Nu stai jos când mergi cu autobuzul?” / “Don’t you take a seat while on the bus?”

“Nu, prefer să stau în picioare.” / “No, I prefer standing.”

Ÿ a merge în vârful picioarelor = to tiptoe

“De ce mergi în vârful picioarelor?” / “Why are you tiptoeing?”

“Ca să nu-i trezesc pe copii.” / “So I don’t wake the kids up.”

Ÿ din cap până în picioare = from head to toe

“Eşti ud din cap până în picioare! Ce s-a-ntâmplat?” / “You’re soaked from head to toe. What’s happened?”

“Mi-am uitat umbrela acasă.” / “I left my umbrella at home.”

Ÿ pe picior greşit = on the wrong footing

“Ai auzit ce gafă a făcut primarul?” / “Have you heard about the mayor’s gaffe?”

“Da. I-au pus întrebarea pe neaşteptate şi l-au prins pe picior greşit.” / “Yes. They’ve asked him that question unexpectedly and they got him on the wrong footing.”

Ÿ a sări drept în picioare = to jump to your feet

“Cum a reacţionat Mara?” / “How did Mara react?”

“A sărit drept în picioare şi s-a dus direct la spital.” / “She jumped to her feet and went directly to the hospital.”

Ÿ a se pune pe picioare = to recover

“Cum se mai simte Dan, după accidentul acela?” / “How is Dan feeling, after that accident?”

“E bine, s-a pus pe picioare repede.” / “He’s OK, he has recovered quickly.”

Ÿ a pune ceva pe picioare = to put something on its feet

“Singur a pus pe picioare afacerea?” / “Did he put the business on its feet by himself?”

“Nu. Are un partener din străinătate.” / “No, he has a partner from abroad.”

Ÿ a fi cu picioarele pe pământ = to have both feet on the ground

“El e visător, dar ea e cu picioarele pe pământ.” / “He’s a dreamer, but she’s got both feet on the ground.”

“Da, se completează foarte bine.” / “Yes, they complement each other well.”

Ÿ a sta în picioare = to hold water

“Ce-ar fi să plecăm în zori şi ajungem la prânz?” / “What if we set off at dawn and got there at noon?”

“Nu-i un plan care stă în picioare, pentru că nu mă scol aşa devreme.” / “The plan doesn’t hold water because I’m not up that early.”

Ÿ a fi pe picioarele tale = to stand on your own two feet

“Maria locuieşte tot la ai ei?” / “Does Maria still live at her folks?”

“Nu, a închiriat o garsonieră şi-acum e pe picioarele ei.” / “No, she’s rented a studio and now she stands on her own two feet.”

Ÿ a-şi băga picioarele = not to care a fig

“Ce s-a ales de proiectul vostru de călătorie?” / “What’s come of your travelling plans?”

“Nu ştiu, mi-am băgat picioarele. Nu mai merg nicăieri.” / “I don’t know, I don’t care anymore. I’m not going anywhere.”

Ÿ a pune piciorul (undeva) = to set foot (somewhere)

“Au fost mulţi ţânţari în Deltă?” / “Were there many mosquitoes in the Delta?”

“Milioane! Eu nu mai pun piciorul acolo în viaţa mea!” / “Millions! I’ll never set foot there again in my life!”

Ÿ a lua peste picior = to pull someone’s leg

“Genială ideea ta cu tortul!...” / “Your idea about the cake was pure genius!...”

“Mă iei peste picior sau chiar ţi-a plăcut?” / “Are you pulling my leg or did you really like it?”

Ÿ a pune piciorul în prag = to put your foot down

“De ce nu mai iese Face la bere cu băieţii?” / “Why has Fane stopped going out for beers with the guys?”

“A pus nevastă-sa piciorul în prag: i-a zis să mai stea şi pe-acasă.” / “His wife put her foot down: she’s told him to spend more time at home.”

Ÿ a fi pe picior de egalitate cu cineva = to be on an equal footing with someone

“I te adresezi profesorului pe numele de botez?” / “Do you call the professor by his first name?”

“Da. Acum sunt şi eu lector, deci suntem pe picior de egalitate.” / “Yes. I’m a lecturer now, so we’re on an equal footing.”

Finally, three idiomatic expressions with picior are worth mentioning. When you go somewhere to ask for something but the response is a humiliating refusal, you can say “am plecat cu coada între picioare”, literally “I left with my tail between my legs.” When somebody’s in a good position or has a good opportunity but they do something counterproductive and ruin their chance or spoil it all, you can say “şi-a tăiat craca de sub picioare”, which translates as “they cut the branch from under their feet”. On the positive side, if you’ve had an achievement and want to express joy about it, you can say humorously “l-am prins pe Dumnezeu de-un picior”, translatable as “I caught God by the leg”.

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