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15 Common Spanish Idioms for Sounding Like a Native


So youre in a Spanish bar.

Its loud, but you can make out what people are saying.

You hear a fellow drinker talking about throwing a house through a window

another is laughingly accusing his friends of taking the hair

and an old man tells you he is healthier than a pear.

What the heck is going on?

You do a double take and scratch your head, wondering why you can translate the words, but not their context or
meaning.

Well, youve just had your first introduction to Spanish idioms.

Why Learn Spanish Idioms?


Spanish idioms are commonly used expressions by native speakers that have a figurative, not a literal, meaning. All
languages have them. For example, a couple of English idioms are, Its raining cats and dogs, and, barking up the
wrong tree.

Idioms are essential for speaking a language like a native, and Spanish is no exception.

There are hundreds of Spanish idioms, and while some are common to many Spanish language speakers, others are
only used in one or a handful of countries in the Spanish-speaking world. There are even Spanish idioms that are
only spoken in specific regions.

In this post, weve compiled some of the most useful Spanish idioms that youre likely to come across.

15 Common Spanish Idioms

15. Tomar el pelo

Tomar el pelo literally means to take the hair, and is used when someone is tricking or making fun of someone
else, but in a good-natured way.

So if a friend tells you he won $10 million, you might say:

Me ests tomando el pelo.


(Youre pulling my leg.)

14. Ser pan comido

The literal translation of ser pan comido is to be bread eaten, and it means that something is very easy to do. It is
the English equivalent of saying something is a piece of cake.

For example:
El trabajo es pan comido.
(The job is a piece of cake.)

13. Estar como una cabra

Estar como una cabra is a commonly used Spanish idiom for when somebody is doing something bizarre or a little
out of the ordinary. The literal translation is to be like a goat, and the English equivalent is saying someone is a little
nuts or crazy. So if a friend has had too much to drink one evening, and he or she gets up and dances on a table, you
might say:

Esta noche ests como una cabra.


(Tonight you are a little crazy.)

12. No tener pelos en la lengua

The literal translation of no tener pelos en la lengua is not to have hairs on your tongue. This Spanish idiom means
that someone is a straight shooter and will always speak their mind.

For example:

Mi amigo no tiene pelos en la lengua.


(My friend tells it how it is.)

11. Tirar la casa por la ventana

Tirar la casa por la ventana is literally translated as to throw the house through the window, and it means that no
expense has been spared or that money is no object.

For example:

Tir la casa por la ventana cuando compr mi nuevo coche.


(I spared no expense when I bought my new car.)

10. Quedarse de piedra

Quedarse de piedra is literally to stay like a stone, and it means to be amazed. In other words, you are so stunned
by something that you stay like a stone.

For example:

Me qued de piedra cuando me dijo la historia.


(I was stunned when he told me the story.)

Another idiom to express surprise and astonishment is quedarse con la boca abierta, literally to stay with the mouth
open.

9. Lo dijo de labios para fuera

Lo dijo de labios para fuera is literally translated as he said it from the lips outwards, and it means that a person
didnt mean what they said.

For example:

Lo dijo de labios para fuera cuando dijo que era culpable.


(He didnt mean it when he said he was guilty.)

8. Estar hecho un aj

Estar hecho un aj is literally translated as to be made a chili, and it means to be hopping mad (very angry) about
something.

For example:

No le gust el resultado. Est hecho un aj.


(He didnt like the outcome. Hes hopping mad.)

7. Empezar la casa por el tejado

Empezar la casa por el tejado is literally to start the house by the roof, and it means to put the cart before the
horse, or to have things in the wrong order.

For example:

Si empezramos la construccin sin los fondos, estaramos empezando la casa por el tejado.
(If we started construction without the funds, wed be putting the cart before the horse.)

6. Estar ms sano que una pera

Estar ms sano que una pera is literally translated as to be healthier than a pear. The English equivalent is to be
as fit as a fiddle, and it means that someone feels great and is very healthy.

For example:

Mi abuela tiene 85 aos, pero est ms sana que una pera.


(My grandmother is 85, but shes as fit as a fiddle.)

5. Ser ua y carne

The literal translation of ser ua y carne is to be fingernail and flesh, and it means to be bosom buddies.

For example:

Juan y Pedro son ua y carne.


John and Peter are bosom buddies.)

4. Tener un humor de perros

Tenemos un humor de perros is literally translated as to have a mood of dogs, and it means to be in a bad mood.

For example:

Ellos tienen un humor de perros porque no aprobaron los exmenes en la universidad.


(Theyre in a bad mood because they didnt pass their exams at the university.)

3. Se me hace agua la boca

Se me hace agua la boca is a common Spanish idiom translated as it makes my mouth water, meaning that an
item of food or a meal is so delicious it makes the saliva flow in a persons mouth.
For example:

Se me hace agua la boca solo pensar en la paella.


(It makes my mouth water just thinking about paella.)

2. Tiene ms lana que un borrego

Tiene ms lana que un borrego translates as he has more wool than a lamb, and it means that a person is loaded
with cash. Lana is slang for cash.

For example:

l pag la cuenta en el restaurante porque tiene ms lana que un borrego.


(He paid the bill in the restaurant because hes loaded with cash.)

1. Echar agua al mar

Echar agua al mar is literally translated as to throw water into the sea, a Spanish idiom used in some Spanish-
speaking regions to mean that something is pointless.

For example:

Tratar de convencerla es como echar agua al mar. Ella nunca va a cambiar.


(Trying to convince her is pointless. Shes never going to change.)

Other Resources for Learning Spanish Idioms


To be healthier than a pear: Funny Spanish idioms : Nice collection of funny Spanish idioms here, with many new
ones.

9 ridiculously useful Spanish expressions: Great post that also includes embedded sound files.

These are just a handful of the many Spanish idioms that you are likely hear. Commit them to memory and start
casually throwing them into conversations. They will help you to speak Spanish more naturally and to sound less
foreign to Spanish ears.

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WISTIA

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