If you committed something wrong or a little transgression and fear that someone uncovers it, in Italian we would use a popular idiomatic expression and say that “hai la coda di paglia“!

Avere la coda di paglia is an Italian way to say used when someone has a guilty conscience, but in a friendly way.

The literal meaning is “to have the tail made of straw” and can be understood through the popular novel which is behind this expression: a fox was caught by a trap while she was trying to steal some chickens, she managed to escape but cut her tail. The other animals made her a fake tail with straw, but the farmer got to know that and lighted fires all around his house to keep her away and protect his chickens. This is why the idiom is used for people who are afraid of being discovered!

So let’s see some examples!

Italian English
Luca ha detto di aver superato l’esame ma in realtà è stato bocciato e ora ha la coda di paglia! Luca said he had passed the exam but actually he failed and now he has a guilty conscience!
Antonio ha la coda di paglia: ha subito detto di non essere stato lui! Antonio feels guilty: he immediately said it wasn’t his fault!
Da qualche giorno Lucia è molto gentile con me, sicuramente ha la coda di paglia. Since few days ago Lucia is very kind with me, she definitely has a guilty conscience.


Do you say the same in your language?