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  • Ilinca Stroe

One word at a time: “Ureche”

Phrases based on names of body parts are probably some of the oldest in a language, capturing either practical aspects of ordinary daily life or tangible sensations inspired by mental perceptions. This time round the focus will be on the word “ureche” (ear), which comes from Latin oricla (auricula), and the expressions it has generated – listed below with their English translations and clarifying examples:

Ÿ a fi numai urechi = to be all ears

“Vrei să-ţi spun un secret?” / “Do you want to hear a secret?”

“Sunt numai urechi!” / “I’m all ears!”

Ÿ a-ţi ajunge la ureche = to reach your ears

“Mi-a ajuns la ureche că te-ai certat cu şeful. E-adevărat?” / “It has come to my ears that you’ve had an argument with the boss. Is it true?”

“Nici vorbă.” / “No way.”

Ÿ a-ţi trece pe la ureche = to hear in passing

“Îl cunoşti pe Ion Micu?” / “Do you know Ion Micu?”

“Numele mi-a trecut pe la ureche, dar n-am cunoscut persoana.” / “I’ve heard the name in passing but I haven’t met the person.”

Ÿ a-ţi intra pe o ureche şi a-ţi ieşi pe alta = to go in at one ear and out at the other

“Ce ţi-a spus Marta?” / “What did Marta tell you?”

“N-am reţinut. Mi-a intrat pe-o ureche şi mi-a ieşit pe alta.” / “I forget. It went in at one ear and out at the other.”

Ÿ a fi tare de urechi = to be hard of hearing

“De ce trebuie să-i spun totul de două ori, ca să mă audă?” / “Why do I have to tell him everything twice before he can hear?”

“Fiindcă e cam tare de urechi.” / “Because he’s rather hard of hearing.”

Ÿ (sătul/prins) până peste urechi = extremely (fed up/busy)

“Ţi-a transmis Doina noua ei solicitare?” / “Has Doina told you about her latest request?”

“Da. Şi sunt sătul până peste urechi de solicitările ei!” / “Yes. And I’m fed up with her requests!”

Ÿ a fi într-o ureche = to be off your head

“Mâine îmi dau demisia!” / “Tomorrow I’ll resign!”

“Eşti într-o ureche? Fii sigur că-ţi găseşti alt serviciu, înainte.” / “Are you off your head? Make sure you’ve found another job, first.”

Ÿ a i se lungi urechile de foame = to feel famished

“Într-o jumătate de oră mâncăm.” / “We’ll have dinner in half an hour.”

“Grozav! Mi s-au lungit urechile de foame!” / “Great! I feel ravenous.”

Ÿ a avea ureche muzicală = to have an ear for music

“Când începe Paul să cânte, m-apucă durerea de cap!...” /”Whenever Paul starts singing I get a headache!...”

“Normal. Nu prea are ureche muzicală...” / “I bet. He doesn’t really have an ear for music...”

Ÿ a cânta după ureche = to play it by ear

“Ţi-ai pregătit micul discurs pentru şedinţă?” / “Have you prepared your little speech for the meeting?”

“Nu. O să cânt după ureche, de data asta.” / “No. I’ll play it by ear this time.”

Ÿ a scăpa ca prin urechile acului = to survive (literally, to make it as if through the eye of the needle)

“Mara a fost implicată într-un grav accident de maşină.” / “Mara was in a serious car crash.”

“Ştiu. A scăpat ca prin urechile acului.” / “I know. She barely survived.”

Ÿ a ciuli urechile = to prick up your ears

“N-am ştiut că eşti fan Tiger Woods.” / “I had no idea you’re a Tiger Woods fan.”

“O, ba da. Cum îi aud numele, cum ciulesc urechile.” / “Oh, I am. I prick my ears whenever I hear his name.”

As for proverbs with “ureche”, the most common of them are quite subtle. Take this one, for instance: “Ce spui la ureche în pădure se aude”. Translated verbatim as “What you whisper in someone’s ear is heard in the forest”, it may read as a fine warning against sharing secrets with anyone at all, because secrets are, sooner or later, disclosed to other people. Another one, “Surdului degeaba îi cânţi la ureche”, translates as “It’s in vain that you sing in the deaf person’s ear” and it implies that even the best of things are wasted on people who are unable to appreciate them. Finally, a saying like “Dragostea cea veche îţi şopteşte la ureche”, “Old love whispers in your ear”, may suggest that things which are really close to our hearts will always sound alluring to our ears – put differently, we’ll always lend a spellbound ear to something/someone we’ve always liked.

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