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I came across this phrase earlier and was wondering if this extends to other contexts.

"и глаза в кучку делает"

Remarking that the dog's eyes were crossed however кучка means knot. So it seems kind of idiomatic.

Does this work similarly for other body parts? Can I say something like

"и ноги в кучку делает"

or

"и руки в кучку делает"

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  • 1
    Long story short: no. It's only applicable for eyes.
    – Dmitry
    Jul 25 '20 at 22:20
  • 1
    Just to make sure you understand what is meant by this phrase - an illustration. (It is not a dog, though).
    – tum_
    Jul 25 '20 at 23:10
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"Ку́чка" means "a small pile", not a knot (pun unintended):

  • Заду́мчиво глота́ю после́дний оре́х и сгреба́ю в ку́чку скорлу́пки. - Thoughtfully I swallow the last nut and swipe the shells into a pile.

"В ку́чку" means "together", "into one place / pile" (the pile can be figurative):

  • Пингви́ны сби́лись в ку́чку. - The penguins huddled together.
  • Он су́дорожно пыта́лся собра́ть себя́ в ку́чку. - He frantically tried to pull himself together.

"Собра́ть/сде́лать глаза́ в ку́чку" means "to cross one's eyes". The ку́чка is completely figurative in this case, meaning more like "to pull one's eyes together / into one place".

Now you could pull your arms / legs / etc together (собра́ть но́ги / ру́ки в ку́чку) but that wouldn't mean crossing them.

Crossing one's eyes, arms and legs are very different gestures and the fact that English uses the same verb to describe them is idiomatic to English. Here is how you say the same things in Russian:

  • cross one's eyes - собра́ть глаза́ в ку́чку
  • cross one's legs - положи́ть но́гу на́ ногу / заложи́ть но́гу за́ ногу / сиде́ть нога́ на́ ногу / сиде́ть нога́ за́ ногу (note the stress in на́ ногу, за́ ногу).
  • cross one's arms - сложи́ть/скрести́ть ру́ки на груди́.

One other gesture where you cross your arms is the gesture meaning "stop" and to describe that you would say:

  • Скрести́ть ру́ки пе́ред собо́й or
  • Скрести́ть ру́ки над голово́й.

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