Fit a square peg into a round hole

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by OneStroke, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    In Chinese: 方枘圓鑿 方枘圆凿 fāng ruì yuán záo 'like a square tenon for a round mortise'

    It comes from the Chu Ci (written during the Warring States period, i.e. around 400-200 BC), and predates the coining of the English phrase by around 2000 years.
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In Russian I can only think of пытаться совместить несовместимое (try to combine uncombinable / try to match unmatchable)
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek one tries to square a circle:
    «Τετραγωνίζω τον κύκλο» [tetraɣo'nizo toɲ‿'ɬiklo] --> to square the circle (the perennial challenge for ancient Greek geometers, mathematicians and philosophers since Anaxagoras of Clazomenae 510-428 BCE)
  4. Словеса Senior Member

    Interesting. In Russian, квадратура круга refers to an unsolvable problem in general, not just to combining unmatchable objects together.
  5. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Guess you don't have an idiom for this expression either. Because I'd say the same in my language "combine uncombinable things".
  6. arielipi Senior Member

    Hebrew has the same:
    לרבע את המעגל lerabe'a et hama'agal.
  7. Anja.Ann

    Anja.Ann Senior Member

    In Italian: "Cercare la quadratura del cerchio" (literally, to try to square the circle).
  8. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog:ang hugis na may sulok ay ilapat sa bilog!
  9. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    What are the possible English translations for cercare in this example?
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: "de kwadratuur van de cirkel" (but no verb, as far as I can see). Het onmogelijke proberen, 'to try the impossible', is an expression but not very attractive.

    I found an expression I never use: "Je kunt van een kikker geen veren plukken" (you can't pluck a frog's feathers).

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