50+ adjectives from the Hungarian zoo

A weird linguistics aspect of Hungarian creativity

Every language uses animal names to express different personal traits. Hungarian is not an exception, and while you will find some familiar ones in the list below there will be even much more outlandish ones. Looks like the often mentioned Hungarian creativity is reflected in the unique and surprising application of certain animal names. While the bulk of these terms are pure insults, there are much more colors in this rainbow than calling someone a hen-brained goose.

Anyway, you will warned, this post has nothing to do with PCness and definitely not safe to read at work. Or under any circumstances for that matter.

Cattle (ökör), ox (barom), sheep (birka), hen (tyúk) or hen-brained (tyúkeszű), donkey (szamár), goose (liba) – all these refer to different sorts and intensity of stupidity and lack of mental capabilities; for the details of some of these see further below.

Worm (féreg) – A spineless and/or repulsing person without principles, courage and character.

Mule (öszvér) – A person who is not very smart but rather strong so his only use is to drag a lot of weight or to perform simple tasks.

Mule solution (öszvérmegoldás) – A hybrid and/or in-improvised solution, made by combining two objects or concepts which supposedly has nothing to do with each other.

Pig (disznó) – A dirty, disorderly and/or fat person, without any self-esteem or dignity; also frequently used as

Every man is a [dirty] pig (Minden férfi egy [mocskos] disznó) – You will meet this one when a woman expresses her frustration when she (mistakenly) thinks that men only want to exploit women for sex.

Lard pig (zsírdisznó) – Very fat.

Sow (koca) ­– Fat female

Sloth (lajhár) – Lazy.

Little rabbit (nyuszi) – Coward.

Rabbit (nyúl) – Fast. Also an insult to refer to people who has no money and/or wits to use contraceptives and hence have so many children that ultimately they lack the funds to raise them properly.

Lobster (homár) – Homosexual. The origin of the word could be a wordplay with the similarity of the Hungarian word homár to the word homosexual (homoszexuális, often shortened as homó).

Bear (medve) or cub (maci) – Fat, hairy, bearded male.

Lice (tetű) or rat (patkány) – Loathsome, disgusting, repulsive, someone of generally negative.

Mole (vakond) – Covert agent.

Peacock (páva) – Vain, narcissist or exhibitionist.

Turkey (pulyka) / frog (béka) – Ridiculously angry.

House fly (házilégy) – An annoying person who is hard to get rid of.

Buggy (bogaras) – Having funny /weird / outlandish ideas, being obsessed about something.

Old goat (vén kecske) – An older male grabbing every opportunity to pick up younger, attractive women. Also used in the proverb ‘Even an old goat licks the salt' (Vén kecske is megnyalja a sót) which means that even older people can be sexually active.

Elephant (elefánt) – Big sized, fat, clumsy person. Also used in the proverb ‘Like an elephant in the porcelain shop' (Mint elefánt a porcelánboltban) which refers to a person who breaks everything he touches.

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”I am not a damn mop!”
Komondor, a Hungarian livestock guardian dog breed

Dragon (sárkány) – A person with an unbearable and hostile personality, one who always seeks confrontation as the only social interaction he (or rather she) is familiar with. Often used for mother-in-laws. A version for housewifes is housedragon (házisárkány).

Monkey (majom) – Silly, lacking originality, jumpy, superfluous. Also a general, mild and somewhat childish insult.

Parrot (papagáj) – Repeats what he heard since unable to have a tought on his own. Could also mean a person preferring to wear overdone makeup or overly colorful clothing.

Dog (kutya) ­ – Often used as an adjective before nouns to indicate something generally negative or difficult, like ‘dog difficult’ (kutya nehéz) means very difficult, or ‘there is dog heat’ (kutya meleg van) is often said during heat waves in summer. It has a somewhat funny overtone. Frequently used for unattractive woman. Was also use as a general insult, but this usage is generally considered obsolete and outlandish now.

Horse (ló) – Generally means something big, which is crude, blunt and lacks grace. Usually connected to males.

A sack of fleas (bolhazsák) – Overactive.

Duck (kacsa) – Someone who drinks a lot of water or takes a lot of bath, splashes water everywhere or generally enjoys having fun in water.

Mouse (egér) – Shy and timid. Also frequently used as little grey mouse (szürke kisegér) as someone who has no significance, has no well-marked characteristics and generally avoids attention.

Owl (bagoly) – A nightly person who stays up late at night, mostly to study. Could also mean a wise person.

Goose (liba) – A mild insult for a female considered not very intelligent.

Hen (tyúk) – General insult for women. In a conversation between girlfriends it is not considered an insult. Could also be used by a woman to an other woman who she thinks she should compete for her own boyfriend.

Hen with offsprings (fiastyúk) – A woman who is interested only in looking after her children or just too busy to do anything else beside this. Depending on the context this can be rather insulting.

Gazelle (gazella) – An attractive person; mostly used for women with attractive figure witj special emphasis on their long and slender legs.

Little bee (méhecske) or ant (hangya) – Industrious, diligent. Diligence of an ant (hangyaszorgalom) means extraordinary diligence.

Cat (macska) – Dexterous or a female who needs regular hugs and caress from her partner.

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What you saw on the header image is a Hungarian grey cattle,
a breed of domestic beef cattle, here standing proud and tall with a csikós, the Hungarian cowboy.

Butterfly (pillangó) or rather butterfly of the night (éjszakai pillangó) – Prostitute.

Whale (bálna) – A fat person. Often used on the beach or in public bath and mostly for women.

Hyena (hiéna) – Someone, who instead of rushing to help, exploits a catastrophe. Often used for lawyers. Hyena cab driver (taxis hiéna) are the shady cab drivers of Budapest your travel agency warned of.

Leech (pióca) – Someone who always bothers others to ask for help or to exploit them; an annoying person hard to get rid of.

Stork (gólya) – A first year student of an education institute. Could also mean an overly tall person with a disproportionate body.

Fox (róka) – Cunning; a person who always finds the shortcuts and clever solutions.

Brown bear (barnamaci) – Feces.

Snake (kígyó) – A misleading and scamming person, who is happy to use all means in order to stab others in the back.

Teknős (turtle) – slow person.

Having the waist if a wasp (darázsderekú) – Having a very thin waist.

Having the eyes of a deer (őzikeszemű) – Nice, warm, friendly, attractive, sincere eyes.

Having the eyes of a calf (bociszemű) – Big and attractive eyes, with a constant expression of naivety and wondering.

Having the neck of a swan (hattyúnyakú) – Graceful, attractive neck.

Having the neck of a bull (bikanyakú) – Thick, muscular neck.

Having the face of an ox (baromarcú) – Strong insult.

Having the knee of an ox (ökörtérdű) – A woman with unattractive legs.

Having the life of a may fly (Tiszavirág-életű) – Something very short lived. May flies live only for a couple of hours: they hatch, mate, lay eggs and die.

Feet of goose (lúdtalp) – Splay foot.

Having the mouth of a duck (kacsaszájú) – Someone who has performed plastical surgery on her lips which resulted tragically oversized and unnatural lips. See Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie.

Horse fucker (lóbaszó) – A very tall person. Most often used for teenager males who grew a lot recently. While seemingly a rude term, it is only a very mild insult or rather a friendly poke which also acknowledges one's remarkable physical features on the area of body height.

Nightingale (csalogány) – Someone with a beautiful voice.

Cockroach (csótány) – Disgusting, repulsive person.

Vulture (dögkeselyű) – Someone exploiting the death of others or someone who is waiting for someone else to die to exploit his death.

Skylark (pacsirta) ­– A criminal who gives up his fellow criminals to the police to save himself.

Stuffed pigeon (töltött galamb) – A slightly overweight woman with attractive curvature.

Stallion (csődör) – A male with notable sexual potential; or a male who’s life and thought revolve around sex.

Left-sided pheasant (balfácán) – Unlucky, loser.

Ox-like (baromi) – Very. used with other adjective, e.g. ox-like good (baromi jó) means very good.

Swallows the fly (bekapja a legyet) – Gets pregnant, most likely against her intentions, like in case of contraceptive failure.

Ouch! of cat (macskajaj) – Headache during a hangover.

Frog gobbler (békazabáló) – French.

Cat gobbler (macskazabáló) – Italian.

Bull’s milk (bikatej) – Sperm.

Sheep (birka) – Dumb and naive; a person who always follows the crowd and has no original ideas on his own. See iPhone owners.

Buffalo strong (bivalyerős) – Very strong, often used for certain alcoholic beverages.

Polecat (görény) – Stinky; a person with excessive flatulence.

Skin mouse (bőregér) – Popular name of a three-wheeled car issued for disabled people during the communist regime.

Gorilla (gorilla) – Muscular, aggressive person; bouncer; the stereotypical fist-to-hire of loan sharks.

Foal (csacsi) – Silly, naive person.

Ox with a crest (címeres ökör) – Stupid. Somewhat outdated. Could be interpreted as a person so stupid that he received an official certification of stupidity.

Small rooster (kiskakas) – A teenager boy who recently reached the age of being sexually active: he is willing to do it but has no idea what to do and makes more harm than good.

Snail (csiga) – Slow.

Tomcat (kandúr) – A male with strong masculine features. Put together the moustache of Tom Selleck, the hairy chest of David Hasselhoff and the panties-wetting voice of Tom Jones.

Luce (fish) (csuka) – Sneakers or shoes in general.

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Many digits were lost while their owners tried to remove the fishing hook from that pesky jaw of the luce.

Hairless monkey (csupasz majom) – Homo sapiens.

Disco rat (diszkópatkány) – Someone from the disco club subculture, featuring typical clothing and behavior. The term has nothing to do John Travolta and ABBA, for the origin you have to look into the electronic Euro Disco of the nineties. Barbie Girl from Aqua pretty much sums it up. A direct opposite of Metallica fans from the period of their black/unnamed album.

Ornamental finch (díszpinty) – Useless / annoying person.

Dead fish (döglött hal) – Kind of handshake when one does not squeezes the other hand; often considered a sign a subjective, diffident and indecisive personality.

Goat of wires (drótkecske) – Car.

Donkey of goats (drótszamár) – Bicycle.

Cinema of mice (egérmozi) – A mobile phone with a small screen. In cab drivers' slang also used for various screens like miniature TV sets they prefer to put everywhere in their car.

Transforms something into an ox (elbarmol) – Messes up something.

Battle rat with a battery (elemes harcipatkány) – A small but fierce dog.

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