it's all Greek to me

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

First quoted as “it was Greek to me” in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, maybe translated from a Medieval Latin sentence.

This is definitely all Greek to me!

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ɪts ˌɔːl ˈɡɹiːk tə ˌmiː/
  • (file)

Phrase[edit]

it's all Greek to me

  1. (idiomatic) I don't understand any of it; it makes no sense.
    I tried reading the instructions, but it's all Greek to me.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act I, scene 2:
      but those that understood him smiled at one another and
      shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.
    • 1564, François Rabelais; Pierre Motteux (translator from French), Gargantua and Pantagruel, volume V, published 1694:
      During the processions they trilled and quavered most melodiously betwixt their teeth I do not know what antiphones, or chantings, by turns. For my part, 'twas all Hebrew-Greek to me, the devil a word I could pick out on't;
    • 1844, Frederick Marryat, The Settlers in Canada:
      “Well,” said Alfred, “it may be a letter, but I confess it is all Greek to me.”
    • 1849, Herman Melville, chapter VI, in Redburn. His First Voyage:
      I ran after him, and received an order to go aloft and “slush down the main-top mast.” This was all Greek to me, and after receiving the order, I stood staring about me, wondering what it was that was to be done.
    • 1904, George M. Fenn, The Ocean Cat's Paw:
      “Look here, Mr. Count,” he said; “I am only a rough Englishman, and a lot of what you have been saying about mission and that sort of thing is just so much Greek to me.”
    • 1907, H. G. Wells, The War in the Air:
      “It's more like some firm's paper. All this printed stuff at the top. Drachenflieger. Drachenballons. Ballonstoffe. Kugelballons. Greek to me.”
    • 1927-1929, Mahatma Gandhi; Mahadev Desai (translator), An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments with Truth, published 1940, Part II (VIII):
      A Parsi lawyer was examining a witness and asking him question regarding credit and debit entries in account books. It was all Greek to me.
    • 1965, Harry Ray Bannister, The Education of a Broadcaster‎, page 16:
      Cavanaugh explained the network-affiliate relationship, which of course was all Greek to me and remained so even after his explanation.
    • 2004, Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul‎, page 99:
      [] it was expected of me, or it was considered an honor, to lecture on seventeenth-century philosophy: Descartes (which was all Greek to me), Descartes to Spinoza.
    Synonyms: it's all Chinese to me
1599 1694 1844 1849 1904 1907 1927 1965 2004
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.

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