This is an ancient Thai proverb. Can you guess what it means? If not, I can give you some clues. Let’s see the meaning of each word in this proverb.
หนี /něe/ (v.) = escape; avoid; flee
- หนู วิ่ง หนี แมว /nŏo wîng nĕe maew/
- A rat ran away from a cat.
เสือ /seŭa/ (n.) = tiger
Please note that เสือ /seŭa/ is a rising tone but เสื้อ /seûa/, meaning upper-body clothes such as shirt, blouse, etc. is a fallowing tone.
- เธอ ใส่ เสื้อ ลายเสือ /ter sài seûa laay seŭa/
- She is wearing a tiger stripe blouse.
ปะ /bpà/ (v.) = meet; run into; come across (very rarely used nowadays)
จระเข้ /jor-rá-kê/ (n.) = crocodile
In a spoken language, people might say “ตะเข้” /dtà-kê/ instead of “จระเข้” /jor-rá-kê/. Sometimes they might even cut everything and keep only the last syllable “เข้” /kê/
- จระเข้ ชอบ กิน ไก่ /jor-rá-kê chôr gin gài/
- Crocodiles like eating chicken.
I believe that you have an idea what this phrase imply by now. Yes, this proverb describes someone who moves from a bad or difficult situation (a tiger) to one that is worse (a crocodile). It’s similar to “(jump) out of the frying pan into the fire” in English.
I don’t know why but one of my students really likes this saying even he couldn’t remember other new slangs. Although it’s nice to know some Thai expressions, I hope that you will not have to use this one soon. LOL