“Kill Two Birds with One Stone” in Different Languages

“Kill Two Birds with One Stone” in Different Languages

Have you ever heard the expression “kill two birds with one stone” in different languages? Humans have always been about being efficient. It’s something innate to us, and it shows in our languages all around the world. Today we’ll look at the expression that describes this: “kill two birds with one stone“. While the subject of the expression may differ by the region—some prefer birds, flies, or rabbits, the meaning remains the same: achieve two things in a single action.  

1. Kill Two Birds with One Stone

"Kill Two Birds with One Stone" in Different Languages

English: kill two birds with one stone

Spanishmatar dos pájaros de un tiro

French: faire d’une pierre deux coups

Italian: prendere due piccioni con una fava

Greekμε ένα σμπάρο δυο τρυγόνια

Turkishbir taşla iki kuş vurmak

Chinese: 一石二鸟 (yī shí’ èr niǎo)


Japanese一石二鳥 (isseki-nichō)

Thai: ยิงปืนนัดเดียว ได้นกสองตัว

By far the most universally used is “two birds” and “one stone”. For Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, the origin is the Chinese Chengyu(一石二鳥). In the case of French, it does not specify “two birds” but “two blows or shots”, but it probably derived from “two birds”. Greek is interesting as they use “doves” instead of “birds”. Italian is by far the strangestit translates to “Catch two pigeons with one fava bean“. How does one catch pigeons with a fava bean? Beats me.

2. Kill Two Flies with One Blow

"Kill Two Birds with One Stone" in Different Languages

German: zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen

Dutch: twee vliegen in één klap slaan

Swedish: slå två flugor i en smäll

Danish: slå to fluer med et smæk

Norwegian: slå to fluer i ett smekk

Czech: zabít dvě mouchy jednou ranou

Croatian: ubiti jednim udarcem dvije muhe

Serbian: убити једним ударцем две муве

Slovene: ubiti dve muhi na en mah

Now when we go to our Germanic languages and Central to Eastern Europe, they like to use “flies”. Indeed flies have always been a giant nuisance to humans since history, and you’ve also probably have caught two or more flies with a single swat of that glorious swatter.

3. Kill Two Hares with One Shot

"Kill Two Birds with One Stone" in Different Languages

Russian: убить одним выстрелом двух зайцев

Ukranianвбити двох зайців

Belarusian: адным ударам забіць двух зайцоý

Romanianîmpușca doi iepuri dintr-un foc

Bulgarian: да убиеш с един куршум два заека

Latvian: ar vienu šāvienu nošaut divus zaķus

Lithuanian: vienu šūviu nušauti du zuikius

Portuguese: matar dois coelhos com uma só cajadada

When we go more Eastward to our other Slavic regions(plus Portuguese), they sure do like to hunt. “Kill two hares(or rabbits) with one shot” is the most quintessentially Slavic way of achieving two things in a single action, from Belarus to Russia. Note the lone Portugese standing there, that “Kills two rabbits with one blow of the stick“.

3. Roast Two Pieces of Meat with One Fire

"Kill Two Birds with One Stone" in Different Languages

Polishupiec dwie pieczenie na jednym ogniu

Finally we go to Poland, where we would like to end our day with “roasting two pieces of meat in one fire“. But honestly I think we can add a few more pieces of meat to our Polish rotisserie. That’s what I call a job well done.

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