10 English Idioms Using Nationalities

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  • Post last modified:06/07/2021
  • Post category:English Idioms
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Here you will learn 10 English idioms using nationalities. Don’t take these idioms too seriously. Remember, that most of them are historical and have been around for a long time!

Table of Contents

English idioms using nationalities

Hi there, this is Harry and welcome back to my English lessons. You can listen to my English learning podcast Speak Better English, or you can watch it on my YouTube channel Learn English with Harry. Whichever suits you best.

Remember, if there’s anybody you know that you think would like this, please give them the contact details and they can join us as well.

So what I’m going to talk to you about today?

Well, what I thought I would talk to you about are nationalities. And in particular, some expressions and English idioms using nationalities. Let me go through them and give you the examples, and hopefully, you’ll understand what they mean and how to use them in English.

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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

go Dutch

Meaning: to split the bill 50/50; to pay your own bill


Going Dutch on the first date can help you get to know the person without any strings attached.

it’s all Greek to me

Meaning: you really don’t understand anything about something (usually due to complexity)


I don’t know about these Ikea instructions…It’s all Greek to me.

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Indian Summer

Meaning: a short period of hot weather at the end of the normal summer


It’s great to have an Indian summer. The beginning of the summer was so cold.

pardon my French

Meaning: we usually use this expression to apologise for our bad language or swearing (no offence to the French people!)


Pardon my French, I didn’t really mean to say that, but these are the only words I can use to describe this situation.

We excuse ourselves for language that we use (or about to use) that some people might find offensive. 

English idioms using nationalities

Advanced English English idioms using nationalities. Study advanced English. Online English lessons on Zoom www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish

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Dutch uncle

Meaning: somebody who gives you very specific, certain, meaningful but very direct advice


Suddenly he began lecturing me like a Dutch uncle on how to behave in public.

Mexican standoff

Meaning: a confrontation where nobody is willing to make the first move or compromise


Nobody wanted to make the first move; it was a real Mexican standoff.

English idioms using nationalitites

English idioms using nationalitites

Mexican wave

Meaning: a wave effect made by a crowd watching a sports event (aka a stadium wave)


The atmosphere was great, fans were making Mexican waves and singing together throughout to encourage the players.

take French leave

Meaning: leave without permission or saying goodbye


Since leaving the hospital, he took French leave, and nothing has been heard from him since.


English idioms using nationalitites

Advanced English English idioms using nationalities. Study advanced English. Online English lessons on Zoom www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish

Spanish practices

Meaning: refer to work practices that benefit the employees more than they benefit the employers


The company bosses want the workers to work harder and put an end to Spanish practices.

Examples of Spanish practices: regular tea breaks, overtime pay to cover the absence of colleagues, negotiable overtime pay, additional time off in lieu

Russian roulette

Meaning: taking a risk or a chance with something very important when you don’t know what the outcome is going to be


This is a bit like Russian roulette, I’m not sure if it’s going to work.

English idioms using nationalitites

Here are English idioms using nationalities. Let me give them to you one more time:

  • go Dutch
  • it’s all Greek to me
  • Indian summer
  • pardon my French
  • Dutch uncle
  • Mexican standoff
  • Mexican wave
  • take French leave
  • Spanish practices
  • Russian roulette

So you can enjoy those, and if you know anybody who will enjoy this English lesson, please give them my contact details www.englishlessonviaskype.com

I’m always very happy to hear from you. If there’s anything that you want me to include in the future, why don’t you drop me a line and let me know?

As always thanks for listening, and join me again soon.

More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

21 English verbs connected to movement

13 Other words to say DIFFICULT

Don’t forget to check out intermediate and advanced English lessons as Learning English with the BBC.

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