I'm translating a script for a cartoon into English. In one of the scenes a grandpa's talking to his granddaughter. It goes something like this:


Indeed! I have forgotten! Apparently, your grandpa’s getting a bit long in the tooth. Anyway, would you give your old grandpa a hug?

She turns around slowly. She sees her grandpa with long teeth. She rubs her eyes and the vision’s gone.

Seems clear, right? The thing is in my native tongue we don't say "long in the tooth", we say something along the lines of "be like a mushroom" (= be old). And, unfortunately, that's what you see when you're watching the original episode - a grandpa covered in mushrooms (not with long teeth).

As there's no way the producers are ever going to agree to change the original scene and make it work for the English audience, I need to come up with an idiom combining old age and mushrooms (a tree with fungi, possibly?)

Any ideas?

  • 4
    Getting a bit mouldy in his old age?
    – Mynamite
    Aug 20, 2014 at 16:40
  • 4
    Hmm, how can we possible link "mushrooms" to "experiencing hallucinations"? Stumps me.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 20, 2014 at 16:42
  • @DanBron: We're not going there, Dan. It's for small kids. Let them finish their preschools before they get to know Psilocybe cubensis. :)
    – jules
    Aug 20, 2014 at 16:46
  • 1
    There's the other old joke about Grandpa being a Fun Guy ha ha ha
    – Mynamite
    Aug 20, 2014 at 16:49
  • 1
    What's so bad about just directly translating it? Sure, it might lose some context, but then again, I'm not sure little kids understand what "long in the tooth" means either. Aug 20, 2014 at 16:49

3 Answers 3


Merging Mynamite and StoneyB's observations, if you are stuck with the fungal image, the closest seems like

I'm getting so old and mouldy, I'm sprouting mushrooms!

[Not suggesting actual biological accuracy.]

  • 1
    Note that if this will be published in the US, the spelling should be moldy.
    – Barmar
    Aug 20, 2014 at 21:41
  • @Barmar Yes. I deferred to the earlier versions by my Anglo-cohorts.
    – bib
    Aug 20, 2014 at 22:29
  • Yes. The entire series is in AmE so "moldy" it is.
    – jules
    Aug 21, 2014 at 7:36

Alas, mushrooms do not have this connotation in English. Quite the opposite: the proverbial cliche is “springing up like mushrooms”, referring to the sudden appearance of many mushrooms where none grew before.

We do speak of moss this way—moss-covered implies long inaction—and as Mynamite says mould. Would the drawing accommodate either of these?

  • I'm afraid the drawing will show your most stereotypical mushroom.
    – jules
    Aug 20, 2014 at 17:20

'I'm growing some fungus around the edges.'

  • Is it a pun? Is it "getting frayed around the edges"? Hmm... and then he asks for a hug from his granddaughter.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 5, 2014 at 18:54
  • 'Fungus' is better when speaking in the context of mushrooms.You have to allow a bit of poetic license here.
    – user3847
    Sep 5, 2014 at 18:59
  • But isn't supposed to be funghy? (groan) Not mushroom for laughter there, is there?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 5, 2014 at 19:05
  • Singular 'fungus' is funnier than 'fungi'and a lot funnier than 'frayed'. We should not forget this is for a cartoon. Technicalities get in the way.
    – user3847
    Sep 5, 2014 at 19:17

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