• Ilinca Stroe

One word at a time: “Ochi”



When it comes to phrases and idioms based on body parts, one such body part is especially prolific, the key word in many expressions: the eye. The essential organ of sight, which has accumulated impressive symbolic meanings especially in religion and spirituality, is called ochi in Romanian, it comes from Latin oc(u)lus and has generated around thirty phrases and idioms. Interestingly, it is also the base word in noun compounds with names of animals, referring to different kinds of plants: ochiul-boului, ochiul-lupului, ochiul-şarpelui, ochii-şoricelului, etc.


To discover some of the lexical richness generated by this word, let’s go through the most frequent phrases with ochi, with their translations into English and short clarifying examples:


Ÿ cât vezi cu ochii = as far as you can see

“Cum e drumul până la Craiova?” / “How’s the trip to Craiova?”

“Cam plictisitor. Doar câmpii, cât vezi cu ochii.” / “Rather boring. Only plains as far as you can see.”


Ÿ a se uita ochi în ochi = to look into each other’s eyes

“De unde ştii că ăia doi sunt îndrăgostiţi?” / “How do you know those two are in love?”

“Se uită ochi în ochi de-o jumătate de oră!” / “They’ve been looking into each other’s eyes for half an hour!”


Ÿ cu ochii închişi = unthinkingly; unreservedly

“Aşa multă încredere ai în doamna Popescu?” / “Is that how much you trust Mrs Popescu?”

“Absolut. Dacă mâine candidează pentru funcţia de primar, eu o votez cu ochii închişi!” / “Absolutely. If tomorrow she runs for mayor, I’ll vote for her unreservedly!”


Ÿ a vedea cu ochii lui = to see with your own eyes

“Nu-mi vine să cred că Nicu a reparat în fine gardul.” / “I can’t believe Nicu has finally fixed the fence.”

“Dacă nu crezi, du-te şi vezi cu ochii tăi.” / “If you can’t believe, go and see with your own eyes.”


Ÿ a vedea cu ochii altuia = to be in someone else’s shoes

“Nu înţeleg de ce Laura refuză să vorbească cu Adina.” / “I don’t understand why Laura won’t talk to Alina.”

“Pentru că Adina a jignit-o groaznic. Vezi şi tu situaţia cu ochii ei.” / “Because Adina hurt her badly. Put yourself in her shoes.”


Ÿ a păzi pe cineva ca pe ochii din cap = to watch over someone as if they were a treasure

“După ce i-a murit pisica, Dan s-a ataşat foarte mult de căţelul lui.” / “After his cat died, Dan became very attached to his dog.”

“Da, îl păzeşte ca pe ochii din cap când îl scoate la plimbare.” / “Yes, he watches over him very closely when he takes him out for a walk.”


Ÿ a i se scurge ochii după cineva/ceva = to ogle someone/something

“Oare lui Cosmin îi plac dulciurile?” “I wonder if Cosmin like sweets.”

“Bineînţeles. Nu vezi cum i se scurg ochii după prăjitura aia cu ciocolată?” / Of course he does. Can’t you see how he ogles that chocolate cake?”


Ÿ a da cu ochii de cineva/ceva = to spot someone/something

“Nu mai ştim nimic despre Alex de-o lună.” / “We haven’t had news about Alex for a month.”

“Am dat cu ochii de el la mall zilele trecute. Părea bine, sănătos.” / “I spotted him at the mall the other day. He seemed all right.”


Ÿ a-şi vedea visul cu ochii = to see your dream come true

“Ioneştii au terminat de construit casa aia de vacanţă?” / “Have the Ionescus finished building that summer house?”

“Da, şi e minunată. Şi-au văzut visul cu ochii.” / “Yes, and it’s wonderful. They’ve seen their dream come true.”


Ÿ a-şi da ochii peste cap = to roll your eyes

“Silvia îşi dă ochii peste cap la orice îi spun să facă.” / “Silvia rolls her eyes whatever I tell her to do.”

“Ştii cum sunt adolescenţii...” / “Teenagers will be teenagers...”


Ÿ a pune ochii pe ceva/cineva = to have your eye on something/someone

“S-a hotărât Camelia în privinţa maşinii?” / “Has Camelia reached a decision about the car?”

“Da, a pus ochii pe un Ford roşu şi vrea să-l cumpere săptămâna viitoare.” / “Yes, she has her eye on a red Ford and wants to buy it next week.”


Ÿ între patru ochi = in private

“Să discutăm cu colegii despre raportul trimestrial?” / “Shall we talk about the quarterly report with our colleagues?”

“Nu, aş prefera să vorbim între patru ochi.” / “No, I’d rather talk in private.”


Ÿ de ochii lumii = for appearances’ sake

“Andrei poartă doliu după soacra lui.” / “Andrei is wearing mourning after his mother-in-law’s death.”

“Ei, o face doar de ochii lumii. În realitate nu-i păsa de soacră-sa.” / “Well, he’s doing it just for appearances’ sake. In fact he didn’t care about his mother-in-law.”


Ÿ plin ochi = full/filled to the brim

“A fost multă lume la piesă?” / “Were there a lot of people at the show?”

“Da. Teatrul era plin ochi.” / “Yes, the theatre was filled to the brim.”


As for proverbs with “ochi”, we have the Old Testament legacy in Romanian, too: “ochi pentru ochi şi dinte pentru dinte” / “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” – expressing a rigorous sense of justice and retribution. Another universal saying, “Ochii sunt oglinda sufletului” / “The eyes are the mirror of the soul”, has to do in Romanian with how emotions, feelings or even one’s character show in the eyes. Finally, there’s a classical proverb which a rather recent popular joke added to, turning it into a humorous sort of saying: the classical version, “Ochii văd, inima cere” / “You set eyes on it, your heart desires it”, means that seeing someone or something makes us want it, as seeing leads to desiring; the joke expanded the saying to “Ochii văd, inima cere, conştiinţa – nu şi nu” / “You set eyes on it, your heart desires it, your conscience says no-no” – meaning that while we see it and want it, we probably ought to (sometimes) refrain from getting it.

Picture credit

<https://eyeslipsface.com.ro/blog/creion-contur-pentru-ochi-sfaturi-de-aplicare.html>

#studyRomanian #learnRomanian #Romanianwords #Romaniancourses #Romanianculture #Romanianlanguage

0 views

Trademark of

© 2017-2020 by studyromanian. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • b-facebook
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle