All Greek To Me

Meaning:

Something that’s difficult to understand due to its complexity; unintelligible.

Example: My teacher was trying to explain a complicated math problem to the classroom, but I just didn’t get it, it was all Greek to me.

In other words, this student was having a hard time understanding the math problem

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
in over (your) head; as clear as mud

The Origin Of ‘All Greek To Me’

When you hear a foreign language, unless you’re already familiar with it, then it’s very challenging to understand anything that’s being said. This is essentially the idea behind the phrase; when something is too difficult too understand, it’s as if it’s in another language. In this case, it’s the Greek language. 

So, for example, imagine a man named Bob is trying to fix his kitchen sink. He’s reading and following the instructions step by step, but he’s still having trouble understanding what needs to be done.

Hence, Bob says the instructions are “Greek” to him. This doesn’t mean the instructions are in the Greek language. It simply means that Bob is having such a hard time understanding the instructions, it’s as if they are in that language.

But why Greek, exactly? This is unclear, but whoever came up with the saying must have either been unfamiliar with the language. Or they did not like the Greeks very much.

Whatever the case, this saying goes back to at least the early 17th century. It’s used by two different playwrights from this time period: Thomas Dekkar and William Shakespeare. In Dekkar’s play Patient Grissel from 1603, it reads:

“FAR: Asking for some Greek poet, to him he fails. I’ll be sworn he knows not so much as one character of the tongue.

RIC: Why, then it’s Greek to him.”

Not long after this, Shakespeare used the expression in Julius Casear, 1616:

“CASSIUS: Did Cicero say any thing?

CASCA: Ay, he spoke Greek.

CASSIUS: To what effect?

CASCA: Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.”


Example Sentences

Here’s how this idiom can be used in a sentence:

  1. I was having an issue with my laptop, so my friend tried explaining to me how to fix it, but his explanation was all Greek to me, I didn’t get it.
  2. Whenever I’ve tried watching soccer, the rules of the game were Greek to me, so I always end of turning it off.

Tip: There’s plenty of common phrases on here that you can learn about. You can learn their meaning and where they came from.