If you thought that two or three phrases about the name “John” were good enough, you’re wrong. Here are 20 phrases about Greece’s second most common name, John.
1. “Sometimes John can’t, sometimes his ass hurts”
A person who often uses excuses to avoid doing something.
“Πότε ο Γιάννης δεν μπορεί , πότε ο κώλος του πονεί”
2. “John is afraid of the beast, and the beast is afraid of John”
Mostly used in a confrontation where both sides are afraid of each other.
“Φοβάται ο Γιάννης το θεριό και το θεριό τον Γιάννη”
3. “Not John, little John”
When someone suggests a distinction that actually doesn’t have any difference. Similar to “toma(y)to, toma(h)to.
“Όχι Γιάννης, Γιαννάκης”
4. “Everyone talks about the chariots and John talks about the pie”
A person who does what he wants, without caring for others.
“Όλοι μιλούν για τ’ άρματα και ο Γιάννης για την πίτα”
5. “ — What are you doing, John? — I sow broad beans”
When someone talks nonsense or a misunderstanding happens.
“Τι κάνεις Γιάννη; κουκιά σπέρνω”
6. “We haven’t seen him yet, we baptized him John”
When someone pre-announces something that hasn’t happened yet, based on uncertain expectations.
“Ακόμα δεν τον είδαμε Γιάννη τόνε βγάλαμε”
7. “John gave up on thievery and caught the couple”
Used for someone who unexpectedly settles down.
“ Άφησε ο Γιάννος την κλεψιά κι έπιασε το ζευγάρι.”
8. “To burn you John, to smear you with oil”
When a person who consoles you is the one who hurt you in the first place.
“Να σε κάψω Γιάννη, να σʼ αλείψω λάδι”
9. “It’s not St. John’s everyday”
You can’t be lucky every day, or you won’t have exceptional treatment wherever you go.
“Δεν είναι κάθε μέρα τ’ Άι-Γιαννιού”
10. “If you’re hearing Maria-John, put fish in the fry”
When you have unwanted guests that are going to stay for a long time.
“Άμα ακούς Μαρία — Γιάννη, βάλε ψάρια στο τηγάνι”
11. “Wherever there’s a marriage and a table, John is in the middle”
Someone who never misses a chance to party.
“Όπου γάμος και τραπέζι και ο Γιαννάκης εις τη μέση”
12. “According to craftsman John and his boys”
Similar to “a man is known by the company he keeps.”
“Κατά το μαστρο-Γιάννη και τα κοπέλια του”
13. “All day good John, and at night bad John”
A Greek version of good cop-bad cop. Someone who cajoles you in order to get what he wants, only to ignore you later.
“Όλη μέρα καλογιάννη και το βράδυ κακογιάννη”
14. “John drags little John, and John’s wife drags John”
A man who thinks he’s the one to call the shots, but in reality, his wife is in charge.
“Σέρνει ο Γιάννης το Γιαννάκη, κι η Γιαννάκαινα το Γιάννη”
15. “Agha, mind your business, and John isn’t for poll tax”
When you see someone bothering someone else and you want to tell him to mind his own business, in a polite and poetic way.
“Γύρευ’ αγά μου τη δουλειά σου κι ο Γιάννης δεν είναι για χαράτζι”
16. “A house without John doesn’t make progress”
A proverb that honors the name Giannis, plain and simple.
“Σπίτι χωρίς Γιάννη προκοπή δεν κάνει”
17. “John I had, John I have, and if I ever become a widow, I will search for a John again”
A rare saying about a woman who married a man named John. If her husband unexpectedly dies, she will try to get married once again, to a man named John.
“Γιάννη είχα, Γιάννη έχω κι αν ποτέ μου θα χηρέψω, πάλι Γιάννη θα γυρέψω”
18. “We want the good of John but we don’t want John”
An anti-John saying, which can be also used as a similar phrase to “to have one’s cake and eat it too.”
“Τα καλά του Γιάννη θέμε και το Γιάννη δεν τον θέμε”
19. “Forty-five Johnnies = one rooster’s knowledge”
The phrase is originated from a local myth in Kefalonia, which says that 45 Johnnies drowned while they were trying to uproot a tree. It is used to mock people named John.
“Σαράντα πέντε Γιάννηδες ενός κοκκόρου γνώση”
20. “Even if you become emperor, you’ll still want to be John”
When someone suddenly gets in a position of power, yet his ethics and morality are still vulgar.
“Κι αυτοκράτορας να γένεις, πάντα Γιάννης θε να μένεις”
Most of these phrases are from the era of Turkocracy in Greece, which technically began from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and lasted until 1821. The most common name in Greece is George.