The Spanish Sayings Compilation

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The Spanish Sayings

Discover the definitive compilation of Spanish sayings. The most used sayings in Spanish arranged alphabetically with their meaning and their equivalent in English. Improve your Spanish thanks to IL Spanish!

A buen puerto vas por leña

English: To bark up the wrong tree

Comments and History:

Expresses the idea of going to the least likely place for help, using the action of two former sailors who were used to arriving at ports where they were given wood or coal for the boilers of their boats.

A caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes

English: never look a gift horse in the mouth

Comments and History:

When someone receives a gift they should do so without questioning its value, accepting it for how it is.

The final part of the idiom comes from the custom of checking horse’s teeth to know their health status and age.

A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando

English: Put your trust in God, and keep your powder dry

Comments and History:

Not only only do you have to pray for God to help us; we ourselves must do everything possible. It can be understood as “God helps those who helps themselves”.

A grandes males, grandes remedios

English: Desperate times call for desperate measures

Comments and History:

However bad something is, our solution and effort will be greater.

A otro perro con ese hueso

English: Tell that to the marines!

Comments and History:

An expression used as a way to discourage someone from thinking something.

A río revuelto, ganancia de pescadores

English: It’s good fishing in troubled waters

Comments and History:

In troubling moments, someone will benefit. The expression comes from real fisherman, who would be in choppy water, but it meant there were lots of fish.

Ahogarse en un vaso de agua

English:To make a mountain out of a molehill

Comments and History:

Surrender at the first hurdle. Be excessively overwhelmed by a problem.

Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda

English:The early bird catches the worm

Comments and History:

The earlier we do things, the better the results will be.

Atar los perros con longaniza

English: To throw money out the window

Comments and History:

The goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, near the city of Bejar, famous for the quality of its sausages, where a famous sausage maker, Constantino Rico, lived – known as “el choricero”.

This man had several workers put in the basement of his home. One of them had the weird idea of tying a dog to the leg of a bench, using a chain of sausages instead of a chain.

A young boy soon came – the son of a factory worker – to give a message to his mother, he saw what was happening and immediately took to spreading the news that in the house of the “Choricero”, they tied up dogs using sausages.

The expression, needless to say, was immediately accepted in the town and became a synonym for the exaggeration of the demonstration of wealth, opulence and waste.

Bailar con la más fea

English: to end up with the short end of the stick

Comments and History:

Expression alluding to misfortune of having to put up with a bad situation, as happened when girls were paired with the ugly guys at dances.

Bajar la guardia

English: to lower one’s guard

Comments and History:

To lose focus when it’s not so important to be so careful. The expression comes from sports.

Borrón y cuenta nueva

English: clean slate

Comments and History:

Sentence to describe forgetting about debts, mistakes, etc… and continue as if nothing had happened.

Brillar por su ausencia

English: To be conspicuous by his absence

Comments and History:

In Roman times there was a custom of showing portraits of ancestors of deceased people at their funerals.

The historian Tacitus, in his third installment of “Anales” at the funeral of Junis -widow of Casio and sister of Bruto (murderer of Julio Cesar)- told how everyone noticed the absence of Bruto and Casio’s portraits. The lack of images was so evident that you could say it was as if the spaces where their portraits should have been were “shining”.

Bueno es hablar, pero mejor es callar

English: speech is silver, but silence is golden

Comments and History:

Advice for those that speak too much, without thinking about what they’re .

Buscar una aguja en un pajar

English: to look for a needle in a haystack

Comments and History:

Represents something difficult.

Cada loco con su tema

English: everyone has his hobby horse

Comments and History:

Phrase used to reflect how much someone believes their own opinions.

Caiga quien caiga

English: by hook or by crook

Comments and History:

One of the most threatening phrases, means by any means necessary, any means possible should be taken to accomplish a goal.

Cargar con el muerto

English: To be left holding the bag

Comments and History:

According to medieval tradition, when a body was discovered in suspicious circumstances and it wasn’t possible to identify the murderer, the town had to pay a fine called the homicidium or omecillo.

Because of this, to avoid paying the fine, people took the body to a neighboring village, so they could take responsibility.

Colgarle el sambenito (a alguien)

English: To blame someone

Comments and History:

Among the ancient customs of the Church and Inquisition, the people showing their remorse after a sin, were given a wax candle and covered in a woolen cloth called sambenito blessed by a priest.

Comer de gorra

English: To sponge a meal

Comments and History:

This dates from the period when students wore a cape and hat, during the Golden Age.

Like good students, they were greedy because of their exhaustion, which meant responding to the demands of university life. As many of them came from distant parts of big cities, they had nowhere to go when the hunger was unbearable.

For this reason, they had to use their intelligence to get things to eat. One of the things they did was to enter uninvited to baptisms, birthdays or important weddings, greeting everyone but staying silent during the ceremony in order to not get caught out, and noticing all the nice food that was served.

This type of “guest” were discriminatorily called capigorrones, from which came the expression comer de gorra.

Cría cuervos que te sacarán los ojos.

English: mind that you don’t lavish your gifts upon the ungrateful

Comments and History:

A warning that those who are rude with their colleagues will one day betray us.

Cuando el río suena, agua lleva

English: where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Comments and History:

This expression means that when someone says something bad to someone else, there has to be a reason for it.

Cuando las ranas críen pelo

English: when pigs fly

Comments and History:

Means never. I.e. there’s little chance that frogs will grow hair.

Cuatro ojos ven más que dos

English: two heads are better than one

Comments and History:

Decisions taken with someone else are the best. Only one can make a mistake, while more than one can see difficulties with more clarity.

Dar en el clavo

English: To hit the nail on the head

Comments and History:

This action can be associated with hammering which could not be further from the true meaning of the .

Previously there was a child game called “milestone”, which consisted of fixing a big nail into a rod at a certain distance from the participants who, from their place, threw iron arrows, with those hitting the milestone winning the game.

As the target was usually iron, the expression came to be used in another sense, meaning finding a solution to something complicated or difficult.

Dar gato por liebre

English: Pig in a poke

Comments and History:

Back in the past, when the food wasn’t very plentiful, people used to hunting cats and passed off them as a rabbit because without skins, the cats are like the rabbits.

Dar un cuarto al pregonero

English: To shout it from the rooftops

Comments and History:

The image of the town crier has existed for many years, even since the Roman period.

Town criers have existed in Spain at least from the 15th century, and were oddly divided into three parts: oficiales, who worked for the Administration; heraldos, who would walk ahead of the nobility to announce the latter’s arrival, and commercial voceadores, who were commissioned by anyone to proclaim services or news.

The usual price of the last category was a “un cuarto”, a unit of money that was worth four Maravedis, so dar un cuarto al pregonero (giving a cuarto to the town crier) meant paying for his services. In time, the sentence has acquired a completely different meaning: condemning the revelation of something, for whatever reason, should not be made public.

Dársela con queso (a alguien)

English: To put one over on someone

Comments and History:

A long time ago, the presence of rodents presented a great threat to people living in cities, because of the diseases they carried.

It was very common to hear the expression armarla con queso (fight it with cheese) in reference to rat catchers, who used cheese to catch them.

The dársela con queso came to be used metaphorically in colloquial language to mean bait, “scheming” or “cheating”, by which someone attracts another to do something to them, so this expression is interchangeable with caer en la trampa – fall into the trap.

De par en par

English: wide open

Comments and History:

Expresses the idea that the doors are completely open, without any obstacle in our way. Comes from when doors and windows were in two parts (i.e. double doors).

De puño y letra

English: by his/her own hand

Comments and History:

Used to establish authority of a document, so state who wrote/signed it.

De tal palo, tal astilla

English: like father, like son

Comments and History:

Used to make a comparison between members of the same family. Its origin is from the phrase a tal padre, tal hijo, included by Petronius in his “Satyricon”.

Desvestir a un santo para vestir a otro

English: to rob Peter to pay Paul

Comments and History:

Means how people must stop doing one thing to do another – even though they’re equally important.

Donde las dan, las toman

English: one sows evil, one will reap it

Comments and History:

Whoever causes danger will normally get it themselves.

Dorar la píldora

English: To sugarcoat something

Comments and History:

Medicine has always been regarded as having an unpleasant taste.

In modern times, pills are coated with sugar to make the taste nicer, resorting to dorar la píldora (goldening the pill) so it seems more attractive.

From this comes the expression dorar la píldora, which we use in everyday language to describe what we do when we make something bad seem better.

Dormir la mona

English: to sleep off a hangover

Comments and History: To get rid of a hangover by sleeping.

El hilo de la vida

English:The course of life

Comments and History:

According to Greek mythology, the Parcae or Moirai – gods of life and death – were three sisters, daughters of Nix, personification of the night: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.

These were the controllers of fate. Each of them had a specific task: Clotho was in charge of putting it together; Lachesis or Laquesis rolled it up and Atropos, the implacable, cut it when that person’s life was coming to an end.

The thread of happiness was made of white wool; that of misfortune was black wool, and those person who had gone through both were formed with a mix of wool.

The expression el hilo de la vida – thread of life is used today to mean fragility, weakness and breakability of our life.

El mismo que viste y calza

English: the very same

Comments and History:

A sentence confirming the identity of the person we’re speaking to.

El oro y el moro

English: All this and heaven too

Comments and History:

The origin of this is from a group of knights from Jerez during the Reconquista wars.

These knights managed to capture fifty Moors, among whom was Abdullah, mayor of Ronda, and his nephew, Hamet.

The mayor was released with the payment of money, but none of the others, not even Hamet, was released, despite the efforts of the king himself, Juan II de Castilla.

The knights -particularly the wife of one of them- demanded the payment of 100 dobles (Castilian currency) for their release.

The king ordered Hamet to be moved to the Corte, but because of the disagreement between the king and the knights, the town soon coined the phrase “quedarse con el oro y el moro” – keep your gold and the moor.

Over time, this phrase is used to denote someone who is asking for too much.

El que rompe, paga

English: you break it, you buy it

Comments and History:

Places responsibility for something on whoever uses it.

El tiempo de las vacas gordas/flacas

English: Years of plenty

Comments and History:

According to the bible, sometimes the Pharaoh had a worrying dream: he saw how seven fat cows were devoured by skinny ones.

Disconcerted by such a sight, he called his fortune-tellers, but none could interpret it.

Finally the Pharaoh called Jose, son of Jacob and Raquel, who was a prisoner in one of the Pharaoh´s prisons, and he explain to the Pharaoh that the seven fat cows symbolized the next seven years, which would be prosperous, while the seven skinny cows represented shortage and poverty.

The phrase el tiempo de las vacas gordas refers to a period of material wealth, while the phrase el tiempo de las vacas flacas means the opposite.

En casa del herrero, cuchara de palo

English: the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot

Comments and History:

When something lacks consistency or explanation in the face of such obviousness.

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En menos (de lo) que canta un gallo

English: before you can say Jack Robinson

Comments and History:

Means “very quickly”, without anyone realizing what happened, like the rooster who sings very early, at dawn, very quickly.

Entrar con el pie derecho

English: To start off on the right foot

Comments and History:

Refers to something that has started in favorable conditions.

Estar entre la espada y la pared.

English: to be between a rock and hard place

Comments and History:

To be in a delicate situation, without any obvious exit, like the former swordsmen who found themselves between their opponent and a wall.

Estar a la cuarta pregunta

English: To be flat broke

Comments and History:

Previously in judicial investigations, there were four questions to the interviewee: are you healthy?, are you clever?, are we lovers?, and the feared fourth question: do you have money?

Apparently they answered yes to all but the fourth question.

When the investigation involved a poor person, he always said no to question four.

Estar como pez en el agua

English: to be in one’s element

Comments and History:

To feel comfortable in a place or situation.

Estar en Babia

English: To have one’s head in the clouds

Comments and History:

Babia is a region in the province of León, Spain, quite infertile and far from populated areas where today there are important marshes for hydraulic power.

During the Middle Ages, the kings of Leon chose this area as a getaway from the problems of the court – to unwind.

The King’s absences often provoked worry in his subjects when they were told the king was in Babia.

The expression became colloquial and came to be used to describe someone with a lack of interest in something, or lack of concentration.

These days we use it to say someone is distracted.

Esto es Jauja

English: This is the life!

Comments and History:

Jauja is the capital of the Peruvian province of Junín, famous for its fertile soil and its inhabitants’ good health.

During the colonisation period it was a place of rest, especially for those with respiratory problems, and its fame spread to Spain.

The writer Lope de Rueda, influenced by the news of this place, gave the name Jauja to a fictitious city called “La tierra de Jauja”, in which he describes it as a place of gold, where money grows on trees.

The fantasty stuck, and esto es Jauja and vivir en Jauja mean to be in a great place.

Favor con favor se paga

English: one good turn deserves another

Comments and History:

When someone receives a favor from another, we probably have to return the favor at some point. Ironically, the idiom is also used to return offensive remarks as well.

Fumar la pipa de la paz

English: to bury the hatchet

Comments and History:

Traditional ritual by the Indians of North America as a sign of ceasefire, which consisted of sitting on the ground together, forming a circle, in which people took a puff of a pipe and passed it round. In English it is the equivalent to bury the hatchet, another signal of pacification, since the hatchet was a North American aboriginal war symbol.

Gajes del oficio

English: part and parcel of a job

Comments and History:

The annoying bits that come with the job.

Gastar saliva

English: to wastes one’s breath

Comments and History:

To speak about something unuseful or uninteresting.

Gato con guantes no caza ratones

English: a cat wearing gloves doesn’t catch mice

Comments and History:

It’s obvious that a cat with gloves couldn’t catch anything, because its claws would be out of use. Use this expression to express that to do a job properly you must do it boldly and in the most straightforward way possible.

Genio y figura hasta la sepultura

English: a leopard can’t change its spots

Comments and History:

It’s not easy to change the way we think, live and act. A person is born with their characteristics, and it’s difficult to change them.

Hacer la vista gorda

English: to turn a blind eye to something

Comments and History:

Means to want nothing to do with something, even though they know it exists.

Hacerse la boca agua

English: To make one’s mouth water

Comments and History:

Literally it means to make one’s mouth water..

Hay (no hay) moros en la costa

English: The coast is not clear

Comments and History:

For several centuries the Spanish Levante (the Mediterranean coast between Valencia and Murcia) was the target of invasions by Berber mercenaries who sailed from northeast Africa.

The towns on this coast found themselves in constant danger, and in order to prevent the attacks they built numerous watch towers on the coast, at first sight of the enemy they would shout “There are moors on the coast”, alerting people of imminent danger.

The system lasted for a long time, until peace was negotiated with the Berber kings, but the warning cry came to be a familiar expression to warn someone of something or someone dangerous.

In the opposite sense, the expression No hay moros en la costa is used to say “the coast is clear”.

Hay gato encerrado

English: I smell a rat

Comments and History:

Used to express that someone believes someone else is hiding the truth. Its origin is in the Middle Ages, when they used to make purses made of cat skin that were hidden among clothing (hence “encerrado” – closed).

Haz el bien sin mirar a quién

English: cast your bread upon the water

Comments and History:

Good deeds must be done unselfishly.

Hilar fino

English: to split hair

Comments and History:

Analyze with extreme care, without losing its meaning.

Hombre prevenido vale por dos

English: forewarned is forearmed

Comments and History:

He who works with precaution is safer than he who doesn’t.

Ir de mal en peor

English: from bad to worse

Comments and History:

To be going through a bad moment in which circumstances appear to only be getting worse, instead of better. It could be compared to the phrase “salir de Guatemala y caer en Guatepeor” – to leave Guatemala and end up in ‘Guatepeor’.

Try to figure out the solution of the Rubik’s Cube with the online simulator. See how far you can get.

Ir de punta en blanco

English: In full armor

Comments and History:

This expression, which is usually used to refer to people that are really dressed up, has its origins in the former uses of cavalry. The was applied to knights who would usually take all their weapons for combat, which were made of shining steel, and sparkled in the sun. That is to say, the knights were dressed to the nines.

This legend also gave rise to the expression arma blanca.

With the passing of time, the idiom “ir de punta en blanco” has come to be used to describe people dressed immaculately.

Ir por lana y volver trasquilado

English: to go for wool and come home shorn

Comments and History:

To be surprised by something unexpected. It comes from the act of cutting -“cutting the hair or wool of animals”- according to tradition the original phrase comes from when a sheep would go to have its wool cut, and would return shaven, surprising the other sheep.

Llegar a las manos

English: to come to blows

Comments and History: Clear and straightforward, fighting, resorting to physical aggression without even trying to talk it out.

Irse con la música a otra parte

English: to up and go

Comments and History: To just leave to another place, comes from when a street musician must leave because he’s a annoying everyone and has to go to another place.

La espada de Damocles

English: A cloud hanging over you

Comments and History:

According to Horacio in “Odas” and Cicerón in “Tusculanas”, Damocles was a courtier of Dionisio I, El Viejo (4th century, AC), tyrant of Siracusa, who he was jealous of for his apparently comfortable life.

The king, with the aim of teaching him a lesson, he decided Damocles would substitute him during a banquet, but would place above his head a bare sword, suspended from a horse mane.

In this way, Damocles could understand the brevity and unstableness of the luxury of being monarch.

The phrase “la espada de Damocles” has been used for a long time, to express the presence of an imminent danger or threat.

La excepción hace (o confirma) la regla

English: the exception proves the rule

Comments and History:

Almost all rules – particularly spelling – have exceptions to confirm the rules.

La fe mueve montañas

English: Faith will move mountains

Comments and History:

Biblical phrase for when someone has unshakeable faith, they can achieve anything, as difficult as it may seem – like moving a mountain.

La Ocasión la pintan calva

English: Strike while the iron is hot

Comments and History:

The Romans personified the goddess Ocasión as a beautiful, naked woman with wings, as a symbol of the brevity with which good occasions or opportunities would pass.

A la tercera va la vencida

English: Third time lucky!

Comments and History:

Optimistic expression that says after having failed twice, the next time will be successful.

Its origin seems to be in vocabulary of fights, where the fighter who knocks his opponent down three times wins.

La unión hace la fuerza.

English: union is strength

Comments and History:

Motto on the coat of arms of the Republic of Belgium and expresses idea of joint effort.

Leer entre líneas

English: to read between the lines

Comments and History:

Know how to interpret what is said, even if it’s not explicitly said in the text.

Lo cortés no quita lo valiente

English: courtesy and valour are not mutually exclusive

Comments and History:

You can be caring and understand with someone, without being demanding.

Lo que viene fácil, fácil se va

English: easy come, easy go

Comments and History:

Criticism to power, success and wealth without any effort put in. As easily as they got it, they could lose it.

Más vale maña que fuerza

English: skill is stronger than strength

Comments and History:

More if gotten from softness than violence.

Mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos

English: it’s a fool’s consolation to think everyone is in the same boat

Comments and History:

We can’t console ourselves by it happens to everyone.

Meter la pata

English: to put one’s foot in it

Comments and History:

To make a mistake, generally from clumsiness, like when someone literally puts their leg in a hole, crack or ditch.

Morir con las botas puestas

English: to die with your boots on

Comments and History:

Means to die while working – metaphor for taking the best out of bad situations. It comes from the characteristics of soldiers, who died at war in the middle of fighting and with all their uniform on.

Mucho ruido y pocas nueces

English: much ado about nothing

Comments and History: Expression taken from the title of one of William Shakespeare’s classics, applying to situations with a lot of fuss but not positive result.

No faltaba más

English: by all means

Comments and History:

Expression to accept someone request, or accept someone’s apology. Can be used instead of “de nada”.

No hay dos sin tres

English: bad luck always comes in threes

Comments and History: Taking the number “three”, this figure links figures and facts.

No hay mal que cien años dure

English: the longest night will have an end

Comments and History:

As much as someone is suffering, it shouldn’t last long.

No hay mal que por bien no venga

English: every cloud has a silver lining

Comments and History:

Every bad thing has a good attached.

No pegar ojo

English: to not sleep a wink

Comments and History:

To not be able to sleep all night.

No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano

English: time must take its course

Comments and History:

Means we musn’t pressure ourselves to do something.

Obras son amores y no buenas razones

English: actions speak louder than words

Comments and History:

The results are what call the shots, as opposed to the reasons given. The sentence could be likened to the expression “el camino del Infierno está lleno de buenas intenciones” – the path to hell is full of good intentions.

Ojo por ojo, diente por diente

English: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

Comments and History: Form of the Law of Talión (Exodus, XXI, 24) for which revenge is urged for whoever does bad.

Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente

English: out of sight, out of mind

Comments and History:

Things that are far away or not seen are less important that what is within sight. The phrase in Spanish also highlights the danger of being far away when in a relationship.

Pagar los platos rotos

English: to carry the can

Comments and History:

To be punished unfairly for a crime that wasn’t committed, to be the “chivo expiatorio” – scapegoat.

Parar el carro

English: to crash somebody down

Comments and History:

Literally, to stop or interrupt someone in a discussion or in an action with a short response. Literally: to stop a cart.

Pedir peras al olmo

English: you can’t get blood out of a stone

Comments and History:

Ask for the impossible. The elm is a tree with excellent wood, but not pears.

Poner el grito en el cielo

English: to hit the roof

Comments and History:

To shout loudly, to strongly complain about something, as if someone if shouting so loudly their voice will hit the ceiling.

Poner en tela de juicio

English: to put in question

Comments and History: To doubt something.

Poner los pelos de punta

English: to make one’s hairs stand on end

Comments and History:

To be terrorized or extremely nervous. When someone suffers a great shock, the skin stands on end and feels like a chicken.

Quemarse las cejas (o las pestañas)

English: to burn the midnight oil

Comments and History:

To read or study a lot. Refers to the amount of that we spend studying/analyzing something next to the lamp that lights up our desk.

Querer es poder

English: where there’s a will, there’s a way

Comments and History:

Expresses the power of the force of will to get something done.

Quien mal anda, mal acaba

English: you reap what you sow

Comments and History:

Whoever lives chaotically will have a bad ending.

Quien paga manda

English: he who pays the piper, calls the tune

Comments and History:

Expresses the power of money for he who has it.

Quitarse el sombrero

English: to take one’s hat off

Comments and History:

Action of uncovering the head was a mark of respect to your neighbor, particularly women. Nowadays it means to give respect and admiration to someone for something they’ve done.

Rasgarse las vestiduras

English: to make a mountain out of a molehill

Comments and History:

According to sacred scriptures, it was custom to take off clothes when in a moment of hysteria, as a means to recognize the mistakes made. Nowadays, it’s used to describe people who make a great to-do about nothing.

Roma no se hizo en un día

English: Rome was not built in a day

Comments and History:

Big companies can’t do everything in a day. They need time, patience, sacrifice, just like Rome.

Sólo se vive una vez

English: you only live once

Comments and History:

Warns of the brevity of human life, used to justify doing something that you’ll only get one chance to do. Equivalent of the Latin “carpe diem”.

Salir el tiro por la culata

English: to backfire

Comments and History: Fail, or achieve the opposite of what you wanted.

Ser pan comido

English: it’s a piece of cake

Comments and History: Something very easy, as simple as eating bread.

Ser un cero a la izquierda

English: to be a nobody

Comments and History:

Not having any value, be useless, that same as a zero to the left of figures.

Si no puedes vencerlo(s), únete a él(ellos)

English: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Comments and History:

Advice for something incapable of defeating their enemy, for whom it’s suggested to form an alliance with them instead.

Sin pena ni gloria

English: to go one’s own little way

Comments and History: Expression used to demonstrate the disinterest of someone by a result of something.

Tal para cual

English: to be made for each other

Comments and History:

Could be described with the phrase “good couples, God brings them up and brings them together”, since it refers to the virtues and defects that bring two people together. It refers to the fact that two people seem “made to measure” for one another.

Tener ojos en la nuca

English: to have eyes in the back of one’s head

Comments and History:To be very prepared and alert, as if that person had eyes on the back of their neck and could see everything that happens behind them.

Tierra, trágame

English: I wish the Earth would swallow me up!

Comments and History:

Phrase used by someone, usually embarrassed, who wants to avoid being seen by anyone.

Tocar madera

English: knock on wood or touch wood

Comments and History:

A familiar superstitious expression to keep bad things from happening that consists in touching or hitting softly any wooden object. This millenary custom is based on the belief that the genie of fire and vitality resided in the wood grain.

Tomar a pecho

English: take to heart

Comments and History:

Take something very seriously, such as a joke or criticism.

Tomar el pelo

English: to pull somebody’s leg

Comments and History:

Simple and straightforward, it means to joke about someone without meaning to offend.

Una de cal y una de arena

English: six of one, and half a dozen of the other / good and bad

Comments and History:

Expresses the way good and bad things alternate. Like in the preparation of plaster mix used by bricklayers – lime then sand.

Vamos al grano

English: let’s get to the point

Comments and History:

Phrase that favors a more direct way of this, getting rid of anything unnecessary, just like the most important part of cereal: grain. It’s the opposite of “irse por las ramas” – to go off on a tangent.

Venir como anillo al dedo

English: to fit like a glove or To come in the nick of time

Comments and History:

To describe something happening or fitting exactly as desired or at the most appropriate moment.

Ver las estrellas

English: to see stars

Comments and History:

To feel a very strong pain.

Ver para creer

English: seeing is believing

Comments and History:

When someone doubts something, they say “si no lo veo, no lo creo” – if I don’t see it, I don’t believe it.

Vivito y coleando

English: alive and kicking

Comments and History:

Being alive and well. Used to refute someone’s death or ill health.


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