work like a dog/donkey/cow

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by duopixel, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. 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.

  2. RaLo18 Senior Member

    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).
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:
    Δουλεύω σαν σκυλί (ðulevo san skili)
    Work like a dog
  4. Awwal12

    Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    "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".
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    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.
  6. kittykate

    kittykate Senior Member

    Pavia, Italy
    Italy - Italian

    Lavorare come un mulo (donkey)

  7. jana.bo99

    jana.bo99 Senior Member

    Cro, Slo
    We say:

    Work like a horse: Raditi kao konj


    Work like a horse: Delati kot konj
  8. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Hungarian: dolgozik, mint egy állat [work like an animal, beast]
  9. Prima Facie

    Prima Facie Senior Member

    Riojana de pura cepa.
    Never heard in Spanish "work like a monkey". I'd say: Trabajar como un mulo or trabajar como una bestia.
  10. ilocas2 Banned


    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.
  11. phosphore Senior Member


    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
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  12. mediterraneo24 Senior Member

    In hebrew:
    I work like a donkey, and get paid like a dog.
  13. anamsc Senior Member

    English-SF Bay Area
    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!
  14. 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.
  15. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Hello, I am not sure but do you use: dřít jako kůň? [like a horse]. Maybe I have heard it. Thanks.
  16. phosphore Senior Member

    Here we say raditi kao crnac=to work like a black man.
  17. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    Interestingly, "dře jako kůň" (= he works like a horse) wins the rally at least on the Czech net.
  18. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    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.
  19. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    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. :)
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: "werken als een paard" (a horse) !
  21. jana.bo99

    jana.bo99 Senior Member

    Cro, Slo
    I have found other translation in:


    Delam kot zamorc (means: I work like a nigger)
  22. 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).
  23. sakvaka

    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.
  24. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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').
  25. ilocas2 Banned

    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.
  26. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2016
  27. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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?
  28. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Always, but you know well how long time that is... :)
  29. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Remember. this should be an aminal topic. :)
  30. TracyS221 New Member

    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'.
  31. kloie Senior Member

    I don't know if it's the same thing,but I've heard work like a Hebrew or Hebrew slave.
  32. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan (native) & Castilian
    :warning: (racist) "To work like a black" was/is also popular in many languages, at least Catalan, Spanish, perhaps outdated (fortunately) in English.
  33. ilocas2 Banned

    another Czech one:

    dře jako Bulhar
    - works like a Bulgarian
  34. Armas Senior Member

    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").
  35. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    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").
  36. boozer Senior Member

    :D You don't say!
  37. 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...)
  38. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    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".
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  39. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    In Chinese, I think buffalo/cow is the most obvious one, others include chicken (waking up early like a hard worker), ants, bees, donkey...
  40. Frieder

    Frieder Senior Member


    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)
  41. SuperXW

    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".
  42. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    állat -> güzü = field-vole.

    Látástól vakulásig dolgozik.

    Ze works from sunrise until sunset. (Literally from seeing until blinding.)

    Látástól Mikulásig dolgozik.
    Mikulás = Santa Claus.
  43. Kotlas Senior Member

    Russian - Russia
    There is an old-fashioned British phrase: to work like a Trojan (to work very hard). But I doubt if it is used nowadays.

    Russian also has a phrase with a bee:
    тружусь как пчёлка (I'm working hard like a bee)
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  44. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu
    In Sardinian :

    Tribagliare que un'àinu / que unu mulu
    - To work like a donkey / like a mule
  45. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    or like a "güzü" .
    Field vole:
  46. Nawaq Senior Member

    français (France)
    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...
  47. aruniyan Senior Member

    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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