If someone says “it’s all Greek to me,” they mean something is difficult to understand due to its complexity; something that’s 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
The Origin Of “It’s All Greek To Me”
Why do people say “it’s all Greek to me”? The idea behind this idiom is that it’s pretty much impossible to grasp things that are being spoken in another language. Indeed, imagine trying to understand instructions that are in another language. It’d be very confusing. Thus, this concept is used as an analogy for when other things confuse us. 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? This is unclear, but whoever came up with the saying must obviously have been unfamiliar with the language. Or maybe they did not like the Greeks very much and it was originally meant to be insulting, but who knows.
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.”
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 I try to watch, but 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 it didn’t seem to help.
- Bill bought some furniture online and after waiting a week, it finally arrived. Now it was time to put everything together. Things were going decently enough, that is, until the half-way point. Bill is now stumped and is unsure what to do. Even though the manual includes pictures and step by step instructions, he still can’t seem to grasp how to assemble the furniture. It’s all Greek to him.
Tip: There’s plenty of common phrases on here that you can learn about. You can learn their meaning and where they came from.