If someone says “it’s all Greek to me,” they mean something is difficult to understand due to its complexity.
Example: My teacher was explaining a complicated math problem to the classroom, but I didn’t get it; it was all Greek to me. (In other words, this student did not grasp what was being said.)
The Origin Of “It’s All Greek To Me”
Why do people say “it’s all Greek to me”? The idea here is that foreign languages and the difficulty involved in understanding them. Indeed, imagine someone gave you instructions in an unfamiliar language. You would hardly grasp a word they are saying—it’d be unintelligible. Thus, this phrase is using this concept as an analogy. When we’re confused by something, it’s as if the thing we are trying to understand is in another language. In this case, it’s the Greek language.
Why Greek, exactly? No idea! But whoever coined this expression probably found the Greek language to be confusing.
Anyways, this common saying dates 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.”
This means the phrase is at least over 400 years old.
- Soccer is one of those games that, whenever I try to watch it, it’s all Greek to me because I don’t understand the rules.
- My friend was having an issue with his laptop, so I tried explaining how he could fix it. However, I think my explanation was Greek to him.
- Bill was assembling some furniture he bought, but half-way through and he felt like he was in over his head.
Tip: There’s hundreds of common phrases on here for you to learn about. Find out what they mean or where they come from.