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LPT SymbolThe Plain English Meanings of
Turkish Idioms

For the letter 'Z'...

If you've ever felt lost trying to follow a Turkish conversation,
it may be because of these
'comprehension killers'

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Click Here!

Idioms beginning with 'A'
Idioms beginning with 'B'
Idioms beginning with 'G'
'House favorite' idioms...

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Fearful that we might never finish
a complete on-line book of
The A to Z(ed) Meanings of Turkish Idioms
in our lifetime
(yikes, that's a lot of HTML code, folks!)
we decided to cheat...
and skip to the back of the pack.
But we'll continue to add samplings from our
for each of the letter groups,
as time permits...

I'm disappointed, Mabel.
I was preparing to commit the whole damn thing to memory.
You had that look in your eye, Marv...

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Remember not to overlook the clickable links for
voice recordings [Sounds] and for
the sidebar entries entitled,
The Rest of the Idiom Story
which cover interesting 'origins' of the idioms
found in the following table ...

Turkish Idioms beginning with the letter Z
[Za] [Ze] [ZI] [Zi] [Zo] [Zu] []

The Turkish

The Literal English Meaning

The 'Plain' English Meaning

Comments and Examples

zam gelmek

Available on CD...

(for a) price increase to occurSame meaning. Note: Due to the high rate of Turkish inflation, price increases (in Turkish Lira) are a common occurrence on whole categories of products such as: drugs, oil and gasoline, and imported products of all kinds - any thing 'pegged' to the US Dollar. Ekmege zam geldi!

Available on CD...

There's been and increase in the price of bread!

zaman bIrakmakto leave timeto set time aside (for something)Konusmaya zaman bIraksaydIn seni suçlamadIgImI görürdün.

If you'd given me time to speak, you'd have seen that I didn't accuse you.

zaman kazanmak

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

to earn timeto save time, to gain timeKIsa yoldan giderek zaman kazanabiliriz.

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

We can save time by going the shorter way.

zaman kollamak to watch out for timeto be on the lookout for a suitable opportunity, to bide one's time.Zaman kollayIp uygun ortamIn dogmasInI bekleyeceksin.

You should bide your time and wait for a better opportunity
(for the birth of a convenient environment).

zaman öldürmek to 'kill' timeto spend time on inconsequential things Seni bilmem ama benim zaman öldürecek durumum yok.

I don't know about you, but I'm in no postition to just kill time.

Benimkisi zaman öldürmek, is degil.

This isn't work, I'm killing time.

(birisine) zaman vermekto give timeto set time aside for someone (for some purpose).Eger zaman verirseniz basaracaktIr.

He'll succeed if you give him time.

Sana burayI terketmen için bir dakikalIk zaman veriyorum!

I'm giving you one minute to get outta here!

zaman zaman

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

(5k bytes)

time timefrom time to time, occasionallyBize gelir zaman zaman, eski günleri anarIz.

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

(9k bytes)

He visits us now and then, we remind him of the old days.

zamana uymak

Available on CD...

to fit to timeto conform to the age one lives in, to move with the times, keep in step with the times Eskiler: Zaman sana uymazsa sen zamana uy, demisler.

Available on CD...

The old ones say: If the times don't fit you, fit the times.

zamanI geçmekto pass timeto be out of date, be outmoded (for something) to expire, become void (due to time passage) (for a fruit of vegetable) to no longer be in season. Bu ilacI kullanmamalIsIn. ZamanI geçmis.

You mustn't use this medicine. It has expired.
(The expiry date has passed.)

zamanlI zamansIz

Available on CD...

with time without time (doing something) without considering whether it's suitable ZamanlI zamansIz bana ugrar.

Available on CD...

He drops into see me, any old time he feels like it.

zamkinos etmek/ çekmek
(This idiom is quite colloquial -- not often seen.)
to do/pull a 'thing-a-ma-jig'/ 'whatcha-ma-call-it'slang -- to run away, beat it, make tracks Adam polisi görünce zamkinos etti.

When the man saw the police, he ran away.

zamzum etmek

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

  • to hem and haw, stammer
  • to talk nonsense
same meaning Zam zum etmeyi bIrak da dogruyu söyle.

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

Stop talking nonsense and tell the truth.

zan altInda bulmak/bIrakmakto find/be left under suppositionto be under suspicion Televizyonda adImI o hIrsIzIn adIyla birlikte andInIz ve beni zan altInda bIraktInIz.

You mentioned my name together with that thief's name and left me under suspicion.

Sözlerinizden dolayI zan altIndayIm.

I am under suspicion because of what (the things) you said.

zangIr zangIr

Available on CD...

(shaking) with a rattle, rattling (someone's shaking/trembling) violently same meaning ZavallI kIz! Kocaman köpegi aniden bahçede gördü ve simdi korkudan zangIr zangIr titriyor.

Available on CD...

Poor girl! She saw the huge dog in the garden suddenly and she is trembling with fear now.

zapartaya yemek
(Rarely used.)
  • to get a dressing down
  • be scolded
same meaning 
zar atmak to throw membrane, to throw a dieto gamble  
zar zorunwillingly, reluctantly with difficulty, forcibly, at the last minute sameOtobüse zar zor yetistik.

We made the bus (departure) with difficulty (at the last minute).

zarar etmek to do damage
  • to lose money
  • make a wrong move
  • to damage, injure, harm
Sirket zarar ediyor.

The company is losing money.

zarar gelmek (for) damage to come(for someone) to suffer at the hands of, to be wronged by, to be treated unjustlyAyse iyi kIzdIr. Ondan zarar gelmez.

Ayse's a nice girl. She's not out to get anyone.
(Damage will not come from Ayse.)

zarar görmekto see damageto be damaged/injured/harmed by (something or someone) to suffer loss Ev depremden zarar gördü.

The house was damaged by the earthquake.

zarar vermek to give damageto damage, injure, harmFIrtIna bahçedeki agaçlara zarar verdi.

The storm damaged the trees in the garden.

zarara sokmakto cause (someone or place of business) to suffer loss/damagesame meaningOglum arabamla kaza yaptI ve beni pek çok zarara soktu.

My son had an accident with my car and cost me a 'bundle'.

zararI dokunmak

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

to be touched by harm/damage to harm, be harmful to, have a harmful effect onBize yardIm etmek için gelmisti ama, maalesef, çok zararI dokundu.

(Speaker from
Turkey's southeast)

Available on CD...

He had come here to help us but, unfortunately, he harmed us a lot.

ZararI yok. There is no damage.It doesn't matter.
Never mind.
That's OK.
Forget it.
Ayse: Ay! Çok özür dilerim. DondurmayI kagIdIn üstüne düsürdüm.
Ali: ZararI yok. Baska bir kâgIt kullanIrIm.

Ayse: Oh! I am very sorry. I've dropped the ice-cream on your paper.
Ali: Never mind. I'll use another piece (of paper).

zararIna satmakto sell to damage to sell (something) at a loss Is degisikligi nedeniyle bütün mallarI zararIna sattIlar.

Because of the change in business, they sold all the goods at a loss.

zararlI çIkmak to go out with damageto come out a loserBenimle ugrasmayI bIrak! Yoksa zararlI çIkacaksIn.

Stop picking on me! Or else you'll be sorry...
(you'll end up suffering harm)

zart zurt etmek

Available on CD...

to make blusterto blusterBIrak bu zart zurt etmeyi, biz senin kim oldugunu bilmiyor muyuz?

Available on CD...

Leave off with that blustering, don't you think we know who you are?

zarta atmak

Available on CD...

  • to praise yourself in an exaggerated manner
  • to speak haughtily
  • to break wind, fart

same meaningDurmadan orda burda zarta atar durur ama korkagIn biridir.

Available on CD...

He shows off continuously around these parts, but (in fact) he's a coward.

zartayI çekmekto pull fart
  • to fart, break wind
  • slang -- to die, kick the bucket
Bela biriydi ama sonunda zartayI çekti.

He was an evil one but he finally kicked the bucket.

zat isleri
(also seen as, özlük isleri)
person works matters pertaining to personnel 
zatI esyaperson thingspersonal effects ZatI esyanI bekleme odasInda bIrakma.

Don't leave you personal effects in the waiting room.

zayIf almakto take weakfor a student to get a failing gradeSInavdan önce daha sIkI çalIssaydIn zayIf almazdIn.

You wouldn't have gotten such a lousy grade if you had studied harder before the exam.

zayIf düsmekto fall weakto lose weight, get thin to get weakZavallI çocuk! HastalIktan zayIf düstü.

Poor child! He's been left weak by the disease.

zayIf nahifweak gauntfrail and thinKapIyIInca karsImda zayIf nahif bir çocuk gördüm.

When I opened the door, I saw a child, frail and thin, in front of me.

zehabIna kapIlmak

Available on CD...

to be snatched to the mistaken belief to get the mistaken impression (that) Fadime'nin Ercan'I sevdigi zehabIna kapIldI.

Available on CD...

He got the mistaken idea that Fadime loved Ercan.

zehir gibi

Available on CD...

like poison· very hot (spicy)
· very bitter
· sharp, biting
· very clever
· extremely "cool" or "hip"
Üff! Bu biber zehir gibi. Onu nasIl yiyebiliyorsun?!!!

Available on CD...

Uggh! This pepper is like poison (too spicy hot). How can you eat it?!!!

Masallah, zehir gibi çocuk. Eminim çok basarIlI olacak.

Available on CD...

May God preserve him from evil, he is a very clever child. I am sure he will be very successful. (Click here to see where we've addressed the Masallah 'requirement' (for children) before...)

zehir zemberek (also zehir zakkum, zehir zIkkIm)poison mainspring
  • very hurtful (words)
  • deep and rueful (sigh)
  • very bitter (tears)
O aksam geç kalmIstI, babasI öfkelenmis, zehir zemberek sözler söylemisti ona.

That evening he came home late, his father was angry and said some very hurtful things to him.

Zehir zIkkIm olsun!Let it be
poison poison [sic]!
May he/she/it/you choke to death on it!Beni bIrakIp gitti. Onun için yaptIgIm kekler zehir zIkkIm olsun!

He left me and went away. May he choke to death on the cakes I made for him!

zemberegi bosalmakfor the mainspring to be emptiedto be seized by a fit of laughterBeni çamurun içinde görünce zemberegi bosaldI.

When he saw me in the mud, he was seized by a fit of laughter.

zerre kadaruntil an atomthe least little bit, the slightest degree Benim ona zerre kadar güvenim yoktur, babasInI bile aldatIr.
I don't trust her the least little bit, she even cheats her father.
zeval vermekto give declineto harm, destroyUsually seen in sentences like:
Allah devlete zeval vermesin.

May god not allow the state to be destroyed.

zevale yüz tutmakfor the face to hold to the declineto begin to declineimparatorlugun zevale yüz tuttugu açIkça görülüyordu.

It was obvious (clearly seen) that the empire had begun to decline.

zevkine bakmak
(also, keyfine bakmak)
to look at pleasureto enjoy oneselfBütün o problemleri unut da zevkine bak.

Forget your troubles and just be happy!
(Forget about all those problems and enjoy yourself.)

zevkine gitmek (hosuna gitmek, is used more frequently...)to go to pleasureto give someone pleasureGömlek hosuma gitti. Onu satIn alacagIm.

I like the shirt. I'll buy it.

zevkine varmakto arrive to pleasureto discover pleasure (in a piece of music or art or other thing), to start to feel enjoyment (in something)Bu parçayI dinledikçe daha çok zevkine varIyordu simdi...

Now, each time he listens to the piece, he derives more pleasure from it.

zevkini bozmakto break pleasure to spoil (someone's) pleasure or fun, to prevent someone from enjoying (something) properly.Defol git! Zevkimizi bozma.

Get out and don't spoil our fun.

zevkini çIkarmakto extract pleasureto enjoy (something) to the hiltSabahlarI erkenden kalkIyor, çevrede dolasmaya çIkIyordu. Dogadaki dinginligin, canlIlIgIn zevkini çIkarIyordu bir basIna.

He would get up early in the morning and go out in the environment and wander about. And by himself, he'd get tremendous pleasure from the vigor and the passivity of nature.

zevkini oksamakto caress pleasureto give someone pleasure Bu müzik her zaman zevkimi oksamIstIr.

This music has always given me pleasure.

zevkten dört köse olmakto have/be four corners from enjoymentto jump for joy, be overjoyed, be very happyBabasI, agabeyisine kIzdIkça evin küçügü zevkten dört köse oluyordu.

The little one of the house was overjoyed each time his father got angry with his older brother.

Click here for the
Rest of the Idiom Story!

zeytinyagI gibi [üste] (suyun yüzüne) çIkmakto come out [in addition] like olive oil, to emerge (to the water's face) like olive oil(for a guilty person) to outwit accusers and come out smelling like a roseHer seferinde aynI sey, suçu kendi isler, kolayca kardesinin üstüne yIkIp zeytinyagI gibi üste çIkardI.

It's the same thing every time, he's the guilty one, but he dumps it on his brother and comes out smelling like a rose.

zIddIna basmak
(see 'zIt gitmek')
to press oppositeto do exactly the opposite of what others want you doNote: "zIddIna basmak" is rarely used. "ZIt gitmek" has the same meaning and is used more frequently.
zIddIna gitmek
(see 'zIt gitmek')
to go opposite(for something) to rile someone, to be too much (for someone) to take 
zInk diye(stopping) with a sudden, noisy jolt; with a jolt same meaningZInk diye durdu.

He stopped with a sudden jolt.

zIp diye
(also, pat diye)
all of a sudden same meaningAdam zIp diye karsIma çIktI.

All of a sudden, the guy appeared in front of me.

zIr zIrin an incessant, nerve-racking waysame meaningBütün gün zIr zIr aglamaktan baska bir sey yapmadIm.

Besides crying incessantly all day, you haven't done anything.

zIrIl zIrIl aglamak
(also, zIr zIr aglamak)
to cry incessantly and unpleasantlyto weep a flood of tearsZIr zIr aglamayI bIrak da git bir sonraki sInava daha iyi çalIs.

Stop crying like a baby and prepare yourself better for the next exam.
(Stop weeping incessantly...)

zIrIl zIrIl terlemekto sweat 'zIrIl zIrIl'to sweat bucketsHava o kadar sIcak ki millet zIrIl zIrIl terliyor.

The weather is so hot that people are sweating buckets.

zIrnIk (bile) vermemekto not (even) give arsenicto not give (even) the smallest valueless thing (to someone)Siz onun söylediklerine kanmayIn, o ne bana, ne de öteki yegenine zIrnIk bile vermez; sözünü eder sadece.

Don't be fooled by what he says, he doesn't give even the slightest little thing to me or his other nephew; he just talks.

ZIrva tevil götürmez. It doesn't take nonsense, willful mis-understanding/ interpretation.It's no use trying to make sense out of a statement that is nonsense.used as is
zIt gitmekto go oppositeto persist in doing the opposite of what others want you to doMüdürle sürekli zIt gidersen kovulursun.

If you always disagree with the director, you'll be fired.

zIvanadan çIkmakto go out of a short tube (called a 'zIvana') (for someone) to blow his stack, get in a towering rage, to go insaneBu kez de basarIsIz olursam, babam zIvanadan çIkar, bana yapmadIgInI bIrakmazdI.

And if I don't succeed this time, my father will blow his top, he'll do everything in the book to me.

zihni açIlmak(for) mental to be openedto feel mentally alertGeçen yIl böyle degildi, bu yIl zihni açIldI, sInIfIn en iyi ögrencilerinden biri oldu.

He wasn't like that last year, this year he became mentally alert, and he's become one of the best student's in the class.

zihni bulanmakfor mental to become muddyto get confused, get muddled upHep C vitamininin zararsIz oldugunu düsünürdüm ama bilim adamlarInIn son açIklamalarI zihnimi bulandIrdI.

I always thought vitamin C was harmless but recent statements of scientists have confused me.

zihnini kurcalamakto try to pry open the mental (for something)to keep popping into one's mind; to think hard; try hard to remember or understand somethingZihni kurcalayan sorun, beni bütün gece uykusuz bIraktI.

The problem that kept popping into his head, kept him up all night (left him sleepless).

Bu soru nice geceler zihnimi kurcalayIp durmustu.
This problem pops into my head so many nights and stays there.

zil gibilike a bellcompletely drunk, looped, sousedHer gece içip eve zil gibi geliyorsun!

You are drinking every night and coming home completely drunk.

zil takIp oynamakto connect a bell and playto jump for joy, dance a jigHaber o kadar güzeldi ki zil takIp oynayacaktIm nerdeyse...

The news was so good that I nearly jumped for joy...

zilligi kIrmak
(a rarely used idiom...)
to break the bell
  • to be rescued from poverty
  • to eat
zilsiz oynamakto play without a bellto jump for joyO kadar neseli ki zilsiz oynuyor.

She is so happy that she is jumping for joy.

zilzurna sarhosblind drunk, plowed, completely drunksame meaningEve her cumartesi gecesi zilzurna sarhos gelirdi.

He used to come home plowed every Saturday night.

zokaya gelmek/zokayI yutmakto swallow baitto fall for a trick, take the baitAdam zokayI yuttu. Sonu yakIndIr.

The man has fallen for the trick. His end is nigh.

ZokayI yutmayacak kadar akIllIyIm.

I'm smart enough not to take the bait.

zokayI yutturmakto make someone swallow baitto get someone else to fall for a trick, take the baitÇok ugrastIlar ama zokayI yutturamadIlar.

They tried hard but they couldn't make him fall for their scam.

zom olmakto be exceedingly drunksame meaningBen sen gibi degilim. Öyle iki bardak viskiyle zom olmam.

I am not like you. I don't get that drunk on (just) two glasses of whiskey.

zonk zonkused to intensify zonklamak (throb with pain)same Burnum zonk zonk zonkluyordu.

My nose was throbbing with pain.

Zor alIrsIn/gidersin/yaparsIn!You're going to have some trouble (doing that)! [often said tauntingly]same meaningSen o parayI benden zor alIrsIn.

It'll be difficult for you to get that money from me.
(You are going to take that money from me with difficulty.)

zor belatrouble calamity· with great difficulty
· just barely
Evi boyamayI zor bela bitirip hemen tasIndI.

He just barely finished painting the house and then moved in immediately.

zor gelmekto come trouble(for something) to be difficult for (someone)Türkçe baslarda size biraz zor gelebilir ama farkIna varInca düsündügünüzden daha zordur!

At first, you may find Turkish a little difficult but then you realize that it's harder than you thought!

zor kullanmakto use troubleto use force Gerçegi söyletmek için zor kullanmak insanlIkla bagdasIr mIydI?

Does humanity have to use force in order to speak the truth?

zor zar
(see 'zar zor')
zora gelmemekto not come to worryto not be able to stand stress/pressure/difficultyTembel herif! Hiç zora gelmezsin. Ancak domuzlar gibi yemeyi bilirsin.

You lazy man! You can't stand difficulty. But you sure know how to eat!
(...eat like a pig!)

zora kosmakto run to difficultyto make things difficult (for someone)Bizi zora kosmayIn da yardImcI olun.

Be a help and don't make things difficult for us.

zoralIma çarpmak
(this idiom used infrequently...)
to hit seizureto confiscate, seize 
Zorun ne?What is your difficulty/trouble?What's making you do...?Zorun ne ki beni öyle sorguya çekiyorsun?

What's making you give me the third degree like this?

zorunda bIrakmakto leave in trouble to leave someone no choice but to do somethingKIzIm beni elli milyon lira ödemek zorunda bIraktI.

I had no choice but to pay my daughter the fifty million lira.
(My daughter left me no choice...)

zorunda olmakto be in trouble· to have to
· to be obliged to
YarIn erken kalkmak zorundayIm.

I have to get up early tomorrow.

zorunlu kosulobligatory conditionsine qua non, an indispensable condition 
zula etmekto put/hide in a secret place, to give secretly, in an undercover waysame meaningSigara paketini bahçede bir yere zula ettim. Babam asla onu orada bulamaz.

I hid the packet of cigarettes somewhere in the garden. My father can never find it there.

zulaya atmakto throw in a secret placeto put/hide in a secret placeKorkma. ParayI zulaya attIm. ArtIk kimse bulamaz.

Don't worry. I put the money in a secret place. No one can find it now (from now on).

gürt (zügür) tesellisipenniless consolationan unimportant trifle that a person pretends is important in order to console himself about a major loss or failure Bakma sen, benim söylediklerim zügürt tesellisi, bunu ben de biliyorum.

Don't look at me, the things I said are no more than a self-deceiving consolation, and I know it...

Example of zügürt tesellisi
Thanks to Mümtaz ARIKAN of Gözcu Gazetesi
for this excellent illustrative example of the idiom above...
Apri 3, 2000

Figurative traslation:
The Sultan says: Every sunset brings me great sadness...
His Chief Astrologer replies: Ahh, but you mustn't forget the romance that awaits you at night, my dear Sultan...
The magical telescope interjects: The Sultan is distracting attention from his failures in the Harem (by complaining about his 'sundown sadness')...
zülfü yâre dokunmak to touch (the) beloved's tress (of hair)
Note: One of our guest language consultants, DS adds... "this idiom is originally Persian or Arabic. 'Zülf-ü yâr' or 'Zülf-i yâr' meaning 'Hair of the loved/lover/fiancé/etc'. And if someone were to try to touch the hair of someone else's lover (i.e. make a sexual advance), then they'd be in big trouble!
to offend the powers that be, step on a bigwig's toesZülfü yâre dokunmak isteyen, sonucuna katlanmasInI da bilmelidir.

Anyone who wants to step on a bigwig's toes, must know how to endure the result.

Zümrüdüanka gibilike Simurgh (a mythical bird of enormous size)wonderful (but imaginary)Söyledigin sey Zümrüdüanka gibi. Onu nasIl bulayIm ki?

The thing you have mentioned is fantastic, like Simurgh the mythical bird. How can I find it?

Idioms beginning with 'A'
Idioms beginning with 'B'
Idioms beginning with 'G'
'House favorite' idioms...

We wish to extend thanks to
Emin Özdemir, Osman Çizmeciler, Ömer AsIm Aksoy, H. Fethi Gözler,
Ferit Devellioglu, Nermin and Muammer YüzbasIoglu,
Halil Uysal, Ali Püsküllüoglu, and Ali Uslu

for their Turkish source material -- on which this page is based.
And, to our new friends Hasan AyrancI and Deniz Sarioz
-- for their help, insight, and understanding --
we extend our sincere thanks...

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