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It’s Greek to me and it’s all Greek to me

  • It’s Greek to me and the slight variation it’s all Greek to me are idioms that date back to medieval times. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the phrases it’s Greek to me and it’s all Greek to me, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

    It’s Greek to me means I can’t understand this, this thing is incomprehensible. The variation it’s all Greek to me is sometimes seen. The term was first used in the Latin phrase Graecum est; non legitur, which means “It is Greek and therefore is impossible to read.” Scribes during the Middle Ages would insert this phrase when copying portions of manuscripts that they found untranslatable or illegible. The phrase it’s Greek to me was popularized by Shakespeare when he used it in his play Julius Caesar: “…but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.” Note that the word it’s in it’s Greek to me and it’s all Greek to me is a contraction of it is, and therefore is spelled with an apostrophe.

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    Examples

    “I don’t understand 24 to two, 25 to six. It’s Greek to me.” (The Sun)

    “If you cannot understand my argument and declare, ‘it’s Greek to me’, then you are quoting Shakespeare. (The Brush News-Tribune)

    At first glance, not to mention second, third, fourth and fifth, Statcast might as well be Greek, as in it’s all Greek to me. (The Herald de Paris)

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