Být v balíku / Být ve vatě

Czech Idioms - Sitting in tall cotton

Have you seen the advertisement with the famous Czech moderator Leoš Mareš jumping out of a parcel wearing a coat made of cotton balls and wondered how it is connected with the lottery advert? What does it mean? Do you have to fill a big box full of lottery tickets just to have a chance to win? Or is the Czech Post Office running a lottery? And what about the cotton coat? For those who have been living here for many years it might have been familiar because they know how Leoš Mareš became famous for always wearing a fur coat, anytime, anywhere. Now he is wearing a cotton coat. Why?

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They writers of the commercial are just playing with two Czech idioms – BÝT V BALÍKU and BÝT VE VATĚ (to be in a parcel, to be in cotton). Both mean that the person who is “in the parcel/cotton” is wealthy (rich). So the only thing it refers to in the advert is the fact that you can become very rich when betting in their lotto.

There is an American idiom “sitting in tall cotton” or “in tall cotton” which is similar, meaning the person is well-off, in a good position or everything is working well for him.

Note that in Czech, there is a very similar idiom with a slightly different meaning – MÍT SE JAKO V BAVLNCE which means that the person does not have to worry about anything, he is looked after and supported by other people (usually parents or life-partners).

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Examples:
CZ: Tomáš zdědil hodně peněz. Teď nepracuje, protože je v balíku.
ENG: Thomas has inherited a lot of money. He isn’t working (doesn’t work) now because he is in a parcel.

CZ: Podívej, jaký mají dům. Jsou asi pěkně ve vatě.
ENG: Look at the kind of house they have. They are probably nicely (a lot) in cotton.

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


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