It’s All Greek to Me

Knowing me, when I see the word Greek, I think of Greece.


The Temple Poseidon, courtesy of

Greece –You know, the country of islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea, the one that has so much ancient history, and one country which I would love to visit one day.

But, the phrase, “it’s all Greek to me” has nothing to do with the country. At all. It has everything to do with not understanding something at all. For instance, I can pretty well read any type of text, and I can understand the content. But, because I am not familiar with the sciences or with medical terms, those reading contents might as well be in Greek. I have no clue what it means when the writer gets technical with the terms. I might as well be attempting to read a  foreign newspaper, one where I have never seen the language before.

The same holds true when people talk in their professional jargon. For instance, I have many friends who are nurses, and usually it is okay to listen to some of their terms as they talk with me, I can filter through to understand the jest of what is being said, but when they get together and I am the odd man out, I might as well be someplace else. I have no clue what they are saying when they start with the medical and pharmaceutical terms. It’s all Greek to me. I have no clue. None. Zilch. Nada.

medieval_writing_deskThere is some Greek, though, in this idiom’s past. Long ago in the Middle Ages, the Medieval times, Roman Catholic monks worked as scribes, copying the Bibles by hand. Probably at an earlier time there were enough monks who knew the Greek language as they deciphered the alphabet from one language to another, and with time, everything changes. To understand the foreign tongue was becoming harder as those fluent in the Greek language passed from this world to the next.


Wikipedia explained that those monks used a Latin term, “Graecum est, non legitur”, meaning it is Greek, (therefore) it can not be read.

I know it would take me a lifetime to learn the ancient Greek letters.


Also, one of the earlier uses found of this term was by Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar.

Today, well, today, we use it rarely, but in that situation where something is not understood in the slightest, and there is no way to explain how or why we do not understand, you just might hear, “It’s all Greek to me!”

Have a great weekend….






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Filed under idioms, phrases

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