It’s All Greek To Me


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 just didn’t get what she was saying, it was all Greek to me. (In other words, this student was having a hard time understanding the math problem.)

Synonyms/Related: in over one’s head, clear as mud, confusing

It's all Greek to me, a confused man.
If something is “all Greek” to someone, they find it confusing.

The Origin Of “It’s All Greek To Me”

Why do people say “it’s all Greek to me”? The idea with this idiom is that foreign languages are hard to understand. Indeed, imagine someone trying to give you instructions in an unfamiliar language. You wouldn’t be able to understand a word they are saying! Yes, it’d be unintelligible. So this phrase is using this concept as an analogy: When we’re confused by somethings, it’s as if the thing we are trying to grasp is in another language. In this case, it’s the Greek language.

But why Greek, exactly? Unfortunately, this is unclear. The only thing we can really gleam here is that whoever it was that came up with this expression, he or she must have 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.

Example Sentences for “It’s All Greek To Me”

  • 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 because he didn’t seem to understand.

Similar Example:

  • Bill bought some furniture online. After it was delivered to his house, he began putting it together. He’s half-way through, and now he’s unsure of what to do next. The instruction manual doesn’t seem to help either. He feels like he’s 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.

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