There is a Czech proverb which translates roughly to "different countries, different customs".

Is there an English equivalent?


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    Related, not necessarily duplicate: english.stackexchange.com/q/285803/13804 – cobaltduck Mar 31 '16 at 20:34
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    "In Rome do as the Romans" assumes cultural differences, but goes beyond your proverb in that it recommends that you adjust to the foreign culture when you're there. – Jacinto Mar 31 '16 at 20:35
  • @cobaltduck, I agree that the other question is related but not quite the same thing but is a great treasure trove of expressions! Thanks for posting that link! :-) – Kristina Lopez Mar 31 '16 at 20:52
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    Does the original phrase suggest that people are different everywhere and we have to accept that, or does it mean that when you go to different countries it is wise to act the way people act in those countries? The first meaning is more like different strokes... and the second is more like when in Rome... – Todd Wilcox Apr 1 '16 at 11:00

"When in Rome", as @Josh61 says, but there are others. One that comes to mind is the American English idiomatic saying that goes like this:

Different strokes for different folks.

Which comes from the English used by many black Americans.

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    I don't hear any racial preference for this phrase. Perhaps there once was one but the TV show Diff'rent Strokes may have broadened the phrase's popularity. – Todd Wilcox Apr 1 '16 at 10:56
  • @ToddWilcox - The first recorded instance of this expression, that I have heard of, at least, was by Muhammed Ali in 1966. I am assuming, perhaps unjustifiably, that it was something prevalent in that milieu in which he grew up. wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20582 – Cyberherbalist Apr 1 '16 at 15:37

I think this is the most common adage that suggests the idea of cultural differences and the fact that you should conform to them:

When in Rome, (do as the Romans do):

  • Prov. Behave however the people around you behave. Adapt yourself to the customs of the places you visit.

    • Jill: Everyone in my new office dresses so casually. Should I dress that way, too? Jane: By all means. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms)

When in Rome:

  • Follow local custom, as in Kate said they'd all be wearing shorts or blue jeans to the outdoor wedding, so when in Rome—we'll do the same.

    • This advice allegedly was Saint Ambrose's answer to Saint Augustine when asked whether they should fast on Saturday as Romans did, or not, as in Milan. It appeared in English by about 1530 and remains so well known that it is often shortened, as in the example.



A certain joke might make an Englishman laugh to tears whereas a Frenchman might see nothing funny at all. Some dishes are considered a delicacy in a certain country but a foreigner might look at them with disgust. Baseball is a very popular game in the U.S. but not in several other countries. I would therefore suggest you use

  • One man's meat is another man's poison
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    Of course you mean "One man's Mede is another man's Persian" – Jim Mack Mar 31 '16 at 21:42
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    "Are you shah?" "I'm sultan!" – Nicole Apr 8 '16 at 17:22

You might consider, different ships, different [long] splices

A colloquial nautical variation, mid-C.19–20, of the landsman's different countries, different customs.


On deepwater sailing vessels in the 19th century sailors used the expression "different ships, different long splices," meaning that there's more than one single correct way of interweaving two ropes to form a single line.



: the place where two things (such as two pieces of rope or film) have been joined by being spliced together


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    I followed your link but I'm still unclear on what are long splices? That expression doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but I'm intrigued! :-) – Kristina Lopez Mar 31 '16 at 20:55
  • If this is a variation on “the landsman's different countries, different customs”… how is it better than going directly to different countries, different customs? – SevenSidedDie Mar 31 '16 at 21:15
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    @SevenSidedDie It's just kind of more metaphoric. To each ship its own way of splicing ropes... google.fr/… – Elian Mar 31 '16 at 21:30
  • But since the question is looking literally for the English equivalent to the Czech proverb that translates as different countries, different customs, and English has the literal proverb different countries, different customs, I'm somewhat confused by this answer skipping past the opportunity to say “Yes, we literally have the same proverb” in order to offer something derivative of it. – SevenSidedDie Mar 31 '16 at 21:33
  • Thank you everyone for the feedback! It seems that "different countries, different customs" is already a proverb, albeit not widley known as I can't find any reference to it directly. Perhaps it would sound better if it were - "different cultures, different customs". – Peter Apr 1 '16 at 7:13

In the British idiom:

Like chalk and cheese

Which is quite a charming expression of difference.

  • It might be useful to read previous answers to avoid duplication. Just FYI. – Cyberherbalist Apr 1 '16 at 14:50
  • @Cyberherbalist - I cannot believe I didn't notice your answer; I apologise unreservedly. I'll edit to remove the duplication. – Spratty Apr 1 '16 at 15:21
  • Apology not needed! It was just friendly advice! After a bit I will delete my comments... no need to make this part of the historical record. :-) – Cyberherbalist Apr 1 '16 at 15:27
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    @Cyberherbalist - that's very gracious of you, but I'd rather you left your comment intact as it could act as a salutary reminder to all to check twice before posting :-) – Spratty Apr 1 '16 at 15:58

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