work like a dog/donkey/cow

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duopixel

New Member
Mexican Spanish
Hey all, I'm planning to make a diagram of how we refer to animals when working hard, I'll link it here when it's done. This is what I've figured out so far:

English: "work like a dog/beaver"
Spanish: "working like a donkey/mule"
Chineese: "working like a cow"
French "working like an ox(?)"

If you think your language might be country specific, please specify it.

Thanks!
 
  • RaLo18

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    In Hebrew we use donkey (לעבוד כמו חמור, la'avod kmo khamor, to work like a donkey), or, more colloquially and less commonly, dog (מעבידים אותו כמו כלב, ma'avidim 'oto kmo kelev, they make him work like a dog).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian:
    "работать как вол" - [rʌbotət' kʌk vol] - "to work like an ox"
    "работать как лошадь" - [rʌbotət' kʌk loʂət'] - "to work like a horse"
    (' - a sign of palatalization here, stresses are marked with bold font)

    P.S.: Also an interesting variant "ишачить" [ɪʂaʨit'] exists; literally it means something like a verb "to donkey" :) (i.e. - to work like a donkey). The variant "работать как ишак" [rʌbotət' kək əʂak], "to work like a donkey", is possible as well. I must mention that the word "ишак" isn't a natural Russian word for a donkey ("осёл"), but loaned from Turkic languages, and it is impossible to say "работать как осёл".
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Russian:

    "работать как лошадь" - "to work like a horse"
    Strange enough that Russians are "working like a horse", but "getting tired as a dog"...

    Actually, both idioms "to work like a horse/ox" are loaned from the Bible - as well as in many other languages.
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Czech:

    dřít jako mezek to work hard like hinny
    dřít means "work hard"
    hinny is hybrid between donkey-female and horse-male

    But nowadays it's a little bit archaic saying.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    Serbian:

    raditi kao konj = to work like a horse, the most common
    kao pas = like a dog, somewhat less common
    kao magarac = like a donkey, less common
    kao mazga = like a hinny, the least common, only for women
     
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    anamsc

    Senior Member
    English-SF Bay Area
    English: "work like a dog/beaver"
    I've never heard of "work like a beaver" (maybe "busy as a beaver"). I've heard "work like a dog", but I think that in the US at least, "work like a horse" is more common. We do say "dog-tired", though!
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    I am afraid that the old good Czech saying "to work (hard) like a hinny" is not in use anymore. I found only a few occurrences by Google.

    Nowadays the most common saying of the same meaning is not politically correct.

    Makám jak barevnej. (12,400 occurrences on the net, for the 1st pers. sing. merely)

    It means: I work like a coloured.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Nowadays the most common saying of the same meaning is not politically correct.

    Makám jak barevnej. (12,400 occurrences on the net, for the 1st pers. sing. merely)

    It means: I work like a coloured.
    Hello, I am not sure but do you use: dřít jako kůň? [like a horse]. Maybe I have heard it. Thanks.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    I am afraid that the old good Czech saying "to work (hard) like a hinny" is not in use anymore. I found only a few occurrences by Google.

    Nowadays the most common saying of the same meaning is not politically correct.

    Makám jak barevnej. (12,400 occurrences on the net, for the 1st pers. sing. merely)

    It means: I work like a coloured.
    Here we say raditi kao crnac=to work like a black man.
     

    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    In Turkish, 3 ways to say it:

    Köpek gibi çalışıyorum - I'm working like a dog
    Eşek gibi çalışıyorum - I'm working like a donkey
    Hayvan gibi çalışıyorum - I'm working like an animal.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    I've never heard of "work like a beaver" (maybe "busy as a beaver"). I've heard "work like a dog", but I think that in the US at least, "work like a horse" is more common. We do say "dog-tired", though!
    In British English the most common phrase is "It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog ...".

    I heard it a million times in the radio. :)
     

    Elvus

    Member
    In Polish it would be most common to say:

    Haruję jak wół. - I work like an ox.
    harować jak wół - to work like an ox

    Harować in fact means to work very hard (I don't know what would be the most suitable one-word equivalent in English) while simple to work is pracować.

    Sometimes, but rather rarely, is also possible to hear politically suspected
    harować jak Murzyn (to work like a Negro - not like a nigger for Murzyn is in Polish neutral and commonly used word while the offensive one would be czarnuch).
     

    sakvaka

    Senior Member
    Finnish: Tekee töitä* kuin hullu. Works like a madman. :)

    I tried to find a suitable animal metaphor on Google, and found Tekee töitä kuin hevonen (works like a horse), but I've never heard of this. I'm sure hullu is way more common.

    _____________
    * The verb can be changed into a more descriptive one, for example rehkii kuin hullu.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Would you think that comparison is fairly old, Sakvaka? Or have you always had madmen ? ;-) Or maybe it is not that strange: in my dialect one can 'werken lijk zot' (work like (a) mad(man)), but do not use that in standard Dutch ('zot' = 'gek').
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    In Czech there's also works like fool Pracuje jak blázen

    In fact, it's much more common than other Czech expressions which were meaned in this thread.
     

    sakvaka

    Senior Member
    Would you think that comparison is fairly old, Sakvaka? Or have you always had madmen ? ;-) Or maybe it is not that strange: in my dialect one can 'werken lijk zot' (work like (a) mad(man)), but do not use that in standard Dutch ('zot' = 'gek').
    How should we define "fairly old", if the written history of Finnish begins in the 16th century? ;) I think it could be at least hundred years old, but I have no proofs, as you can imagine.

    I forgot: it may as well have been taken from the saying Hullu paljon työtä tekee, viisas pääsee vähemmällä. A foolish person works a lot, a wise person gets by more easily.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    That is quite an interesting addition indeed. With us too it means too much, but it does not really mean foolishly, strictly speaking.

    My question about age ;-) was not about 150 years, or something, but rather: have you always heard that expression, or only recently?
     

    TracyS221

    New Member
    English
    I've heard work like a beaver / horse / mule plenty of times in the UK. I'm not so familiar with work like a dog.
    Interestingly we also refer to 'doing the donkey work'.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish dictionary has raataa kuin juhta "to work hard like a beast of burden". I don't remember if I have ever heard that. Raataa means "to work really hard" (from Russian страдать (stradat') "to suffer").
     

    vlad733

    New Member
    Bulgarian - Bulgaria
    Some Bulgarian expressions:
    Work like an ox
    Work like a bee / ant (obviously different connotation)
    Strong as a bull
    Meek as a lamb
    Run like a horse
    Roar like a donkey
    Stubborn as a donkey
    Stupid like a sheep
    Dumb/silent as a fish
    Faithful as a dog
    Evil as a dog
    Wailing like a dog
    Hungry as a wolf / dog
    Beaten like a dog
    Eat like a pig
    Drunk as a swine
    Cowardly like a rabbit
    Poor like a church mouse
    Struggle like a pig with a pumpkin
    Singing as a nightingale
    Naked / poor as a louse
    Remember like an elephant
    Sleep like a slaughtered (yeah...)
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    I'm not so familiar with work like a dog.
    Where I live, people don't normally say "to work like a" + name of a particular animal (unlike the the Beatles and their "I've been working like a dog").
    Interestingly it is probably the first English idiom I ever heard and [somewhat later] understood. The English movies were usually dubbed. The Hard Day's Night was among few exceptions. You can hear "working like a dog" in the very beginning of the film in the first couplet.

    I understand that the "working like a dog" could be just for the rhyme with "sleeping like a log".
     
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    Frieder

    Senior Member
    German:

    fleißig wie eine Biene - hard working like a bee
    schuften wie ein Ochse - to toil like an ox
    sich mit etwas abeseln - to carry something very heavy (like a donkey)
    emsig (adj. derivation of Ameise) - diligent/hard-working (like an ant)
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    In Chinese, "working like a bufflalo/cow (same word)" or sometimes "ant", "bee" is usually a compliment.
    However, to mean one is exhausted and even pathetic because of hard-work (or anything), people use "dog".
     

    Kotlas

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    another Czech one:

    dře jako Bulhar
    - works like a Bulgarian
    There is an old-fashioned British phrase: to work like a Trojan (to work very hard). But I doubt if it is used nowadays.

    others include ants, bees,
    fleißig wie eine Biene - hard working like a bee
    In Chinese, "working like "ant", "bee" is usually a compliment.
    Russian also has a phrase with a bee:
    тружусь как пчёлка (I'm working hard like a bee)
     
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    Nawaq

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    French "working like an ox(?)"
    weirdly, I'm not sure any of those are that common, I only found some people talking about :

    "travailler comme un chien" /work like a dog
    "travailler comme une bête" /work like a beast (the most common of them all I'd say)
    "travailler comme un boeuf" /work like an ox

    there are others with work like a... but they aren't about animals.
    maybe I didn't look well enough though...
     

    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    In Tamil(Indian),

    to work like a cow/ox is used for hard working.
    to work like a dog seen as work like a slave.
    :)
     
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