Mám okno

Czech Idioms - I drew a blank

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 10.11.2011 12:00:34 (updated on 10.11.2011) Reading time: 2 minutes

You must have heard many times different people saying “MÁM OKNO.” Czechs use this phrase a lot. Someone may have said it at work and you might have thought it had something to do with his or her office windows or more possibly to do with a meeting time. English also has the phrase, “I have a window.” However, in English this means we are available at a certain time for a meeting or doing something. In fact, this phrase in Czech has two meanings and one is the same as the English phrase.

But the second, and less obvious meaning, is that the person wanted to say that their brain wasn’t working properly: that they couldn`t remember anything. We have a few phrases in English that give this meaning, such as “my mind went blank” or “I drew a blank”.

It is very commonly used for when you have been drinking a lot and can`t remember what you were doing. Students say this often when talking about being so nervous at an exam that they just couldn’t remember the answers. So listen more intently to see how often Czechs use this common phrase. However, be careful. You will probably not hear the exact phrase “MÁM OKNO”; read the NOTE below the examples.

Examples: (with literal English translation)

CZ: Co jsem včera dělal? Ja si vůbec nic nepamatuju, mám totální okno.
ENG: What was I doing yesterday? I don´t remember nothing at all, I have a total window.

CZ: …a když se mě professor zeptal, co to je fotosyntéza, měla jsem úplný okno.
ENG: …and when the professor asked me what photosynthesis is, I had a complete window.

NOTE: Actually, you may have never heard it, because while it is often written as MÁM OKNO, in colloquial Czech you will hear people saying [VOKNO] rather than [OKNO]. 

If you’re considering a course to learn the Czech Language, you can find a great selection right here.

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