¡ojo al parche! – look out!, stay alert!, don´t drop your guard!, keep your eyes peeled!
¡que me quiten lo bailado! – This Spanish expression is originally from Rio de la Plata and means that, come what may, no one can take away from us the good times we’ve had.
¿qué le hace una mancha más al tigre? – What’s one more stripe on a tiger’s back? We use this Spanish expression metaphorically to say that more of a certain thing, when there’s lots of it, is likely to go unnoticed or make no difference.
a banderas desplegadas – with flying colors
a caballo regañado no le mires el diente – Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
a chorros – in great quantities
a como de lugar – at all costs, in any way possible
a contramano – in the wrong direction, against the traffic
a destiempo – untimely, ill-timed, inopportune
a dos pasos – very close, within an ace of
a duras penas – scarcely, with great difficulty
a fin de cuentas – at the end of the day, when all is said and done
a gatas – on all fours
a granel– in bulk
a la carrera – This Spanish idiom describes an unthorough, hurried way of doing something.
a la larga – in the long run
a la merced de – at the mercy of
a la vez – at the same time, simultaneously
a las espaldas de alguien – behind somebody´s back
a lo major – maybe, possibly
a mano – 1. even, without pending accounts either way, 2. by hand
a más tardar – at the latest
a menudo – often, many a time
a ojo de buen cubero – by rule of thumb
a palo seco – without anything to go with it. This Spanish idiom is most commonly used referring to food or drink taken without anything else.
a pesar de – in spite of
a propósito – by the way
a punto de – at the brink of
a que… – I bet that…
a rajatabla – inflexibly, rigorously, strictly
a regañadientes – unwillingly, complainingly
a rey muerto, rey puesto – Out with the old, in with the new
a rienda suelta – without any constraint or control, freely
a solas – alone, by one´s self
a tientas – guiding one´s self by feel, for instance in the darkness
a toda costa – at all costs
a toda máquina – very fast
a todas luces – by all appearances, clearly, evidently
a todo trapo – with luxury, in grand style
a todo vapor – very fast, as fast as posible
a troche y moche – thoughtlessly, inconsiderately, helter-skelter
a trochemoche – thoughtlessly, inconsiderately, helter-skelter
a tumba abierta – exposing one´s self to extreme danger, at breakneck speed
a tutiplén – abundantly, profusely, copiously
a última hora – at the last moment
a ultranza – in the extreme, radically
a veces – sometimes, at times
a ver – we´ll see
a voz en grito – loudly, at the top of one´s lungs
abrirse paso a codazos – to elbow one´s way
acoger en su regazo – to take someone under one´s wing
acostarse con las gallinas – to retire to bed early
aguzar el oído – to prick up one´s ears
ahuecar el ala – Some English equivalents of this Spanish idiom are: to make one´s self scarce, to make off, to clear off, to hit the road
al “ahí se va” – not thoroughly, with mediocrity
al aire libre – outdoors
al fin y al cabo – finally, at the end of the day, when all is said and done
al hambre no hay pan duro – Beggars can’t be choosers
al menos – at least
al pie de la letra – to the letter, to a T
al por mayor – wholesale
al revés – upside down, topsy turvy
alzarle la mano a alguien – to threaten or hit someone
amoscarse – to get angry
andar a paso de tortuga – to walk or do something very slowly, at a snail´s pace
andar como burro sin mecate – to be wild, out of control
andar de cabeza – this Spanish idiom describes an overburdened, unorganized state of mind within a turmoil of activity, to run around like a headless chicken
andar de capa caída – to be in low spirits, depressed
andarse por las ramas – to talk evasively, to beat around the bush
apretar las clavijas a alguien – to pressure somebody, to crack the whip
apretarse el cinturón – to cut expenses, to live on a shoestring
aquí hay gato encerrado – there’s something fishy going on here, I smell a rat
We use this Spanish idiom to express our suspicion that behind the mask of normality something obscure is unfolding.
armado hasta los dientes – armed to the teeth
armar un jaleo – to make a fuss
armarse la gorda – to make a big, fat fuss
arriesgarse el pellejo – to risk one´s self, to risk one´s neck
arrimar el ascua a su sardine – to put one´s own benefit first, to provide grist to one´s mill
arrimarse al sol que más calienta – to seek out those from whom one can profit, to know which side one´s bread is buttered on
arrojar a alguien a los lobos – to deliver someone into danger, to throw someone to the wolves
astuto como un zorro – very smart, as sly as a fox
ave nocturna – night person, night owl
bailar al son que tocan – to dance to whatever music happens to be playing, to follow the current, to agree with anything
bajársele los humos a alguien – to be taken down a peg. This Spanish idiom is used when someone´s excessively high opinion of himself is punctured.
barrer para adentro – to act advantageously, to promote one´s interests without consideration of others, to attribute other people´s merit to oneself
bicho raro – an odd (human) specimen
blasfemar/ jurar/ renegar/ hablar como un carretero – swear like a trooper
borracho como una cuba – drunk as a skunk
borrón y cuenta nueva – to forget the past and start anew, to let bygones be bygones
brillar por su ausencia – to be conspicuous by one´s absence
bueno como un angel – extremelly good, saintly, referring to a person´s character and moral qualities
buscar una aguja en un pajar – to look for a needle in a haystack
buscarle a alguien las cosquillas – to provoke somebody
buscarle tres pies al gato – to look for trouble, to complicate things unnecessarily
buscarle tres pies al gato sabiendo que tiene cuatro – to look for trouble, to complicate things unnecessarily
cabeza de chorlito – scatterbrain
cada hijo de vecino – just about everyone, all and sundry
cada muerte de Obispo – very rarely, once in a blue moon
caer bien/ mal – to be likeable/ not to be likeable
caer como moscas – to die/ drop like flies
calado hasta los huesos – soaked through
calarse las gafas – to put on one´s glasses
cerrar algo a cal y canto – to seal shut
cerrar el pico – to shut one´s trap, to remain silent
chapado a la antigua – old-fashioned
chillar como un condenado – to scream very strongly out of pain or fear (to scream as if one were sentenced to death), to sob like a baby
cocerse/ cocinarse en su propia salsa – to stew in one´s own juices
comer como un pajarito – to pick at one´s food, to eat sparingly
como los perros en misa – superfluous, unnecessary
como perro en barrio ajeno – out of place
como pez en el agua – to be in one’s element, at home
como si fuera poco – as if it that weren´t enough
con el sudor de su frente – by the sweat of his brow
con pelos y señales – in all detail
consultar algo con la almohada – to sleep on something
contra viento y marea – come wind or high water; through thick and thin; against all odds; come rain, hail or snow
cortar de raíz – eradicate
costar un ojo de la cara – to be outrageously expensive, to cost an eye and a foot, to cost an arm and a leg
creerse el ombligo del mundo – to think the world revolves around one´s self
cuando las ranas críen pelos – This Spanish expression is used to say that something will never, ever happen. “When pigs learn to fly”
cuanto antes – as soon as possible, as soon as may be
cuatro gatos – When one uses this Spanish expression and refers to “cuatro gatos” being present one is saying that hardly anybody or a proportionately small group of people are on hand.
dar a luz – to give birth
dar algo por bueno – to approve of something, to accept
dar de sí – said of clothes and shoes, to give; said of people, to give of oneself, to be accommodating
dar en el clavo – to hit the nail on the head, to get something right
dar gato por liebre – to cheat, to decieve by giving something of similar appearance but inferior quality
dar la lata/dar lata – to bother, to be a pain in the neck
dar la tabarra – to pester, to bug
dar luz verde – to give the go ahead
dar por sentado – to take something as a given
dar una de cal y una de arena – to alternate different or opposite things for the purpose of being accommodating
darle a algo el visto bueno – to give one´s approval
darle a alguien mala espina algo – to have one´s suspicions aroused by something
darle sopas con honda (alguien o algo a otra persona o cosa) – to be overwhelmingly superior to something or somebody
darse por vencido – to give up
darse prisa – to hurry
de buenas a primeras – unexpectedly, suddenly, without notice
de golpe – all at once
de higos a brevas – very rarely, once in a blue moon
de nuevo – again
de par en par – wide open
de pelo en pecho – manly, valiant
de perlas – marvelously, excellently
de plano – entirely, absolutely
de pronto – suddenly
de tal palo tal astilla – A chip off the old block
de una vez por todas – once and for all
dejar en paz a alguien – to leave somebody alone
dejar plantado a alguien – to fail to show up for an appointment leaving the person waiting, to stand somebody up
descubrir la pólvora/ América / el agua caliente/ el Mediterráneo/ el hilo negro – This Spanish expression is used by way of ironical comment when someone “discovers” something which is plain common sense to realize, later than everybody else, something evident, to proclaim as news something which is already common knowledge
desde luego – of course
deshacerse en atenciones – to go overboard in one´s displays of attention, amability or hospitality towards somebody, to bend over backward for somebody
devanarse los sesos – to rack one´s brains
Dios los cría y ellos se juntan – Birds of a feather flock together
dormir a pierna suelta – to sleep like a log
dormir como un lirón – to sleep a lot
echar leña al fuego – to add fuel to the fire, to aggravate an already difficult situation
echar un cuarto a espadas – to contribute one´s own opinion in a discussion
English equivalents of this Spanish idiom: to give one´s two cents worth, to stick one’s oar in
echar/tirar la casa por la ventana – to spend without measure or restraint, to kill the fattened calf
el mundo es un pañuelo – It’s a small world
el que la sigue la consigue – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again
empezar la casa por el tejado – to do things in the wrong order, English equivalent of this Spanish idiom: to put the cart before the horse
empinar el codo – to consume intoxicating drinks by way of habit, to bend the elbow
en boca cerrada no entran moscas – A Spanish expression which means that you are better off keeping quiet and minding your own business
en cueros – naked, in the buff
en el séptimo cielo – exultant, English equivalents of this Spanish idiom: in seventh heaven, on cloud nine
en fila india – in single file, in Indian file
en las barbas de alguien – right under someone´s nose, in someone´s face
en menos que canta un gallo – in an instant, English equivalents of this Spanish idiom: quick as a wink, in two shakes of a lamb´s tail
en un abrir y cerrar de ojos – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye
endeudado hasta los ojos – up to one´s ears in debt
entre chanzas y versa – half earnest, half in jest
entre la espada y la pared – trapped in a delicate situation, between the Devil and the deep blue sea
es como hablar a la pared – It’s like talking to a brick wall
esperar la semana que no traiga viernes – to procrastinate forever, to wait till the cows come home
estar (loco) como una cabra – English equivalents of this Spanish idiom: to be as mad as a hatter, to be as nutty as a fruit-cake
estar con un pie en el aire – to be uncommitted, to sit on the fence
estar de buenas – to be in a good mood
estar de mala leche – to be in very bad humor
estar en ascuas – to be in a state of agitated suspense, to be on tenterhooks, to be on pins and needles, to be like a cat on hot bricks
estar en boca de todos – to be on everyone´s lips, to be the talk of the town
estar en la flor de la edad – to be in the prime of life
estar en la luna – to have one´s head in the clouds
estar en las nubes – same as above
estar entre Pinto y Valdemoro – to be half of one mind and half of another…and also… to be slightly drunk, to be half seas over
estar frito – to be in dire straits, to be toast
estar hasta la coronilla – to be fed up …or… to be up to one´s neck in something
estar más loco que una cabra – To be as mad as a hatter.
estar más perdido que Carracuca – to be hopelessly lost
estirar la pata – to die, English equivalent of this Spanish idiom: to kick the bucket
exhalar el último suspiro – to die, to give up the ghost
faltar el rabo por desollar – This Spanish expression is used to say that the hardest part of a task still remains to be accomplished.
faltarle un tornillo a alguien – to have a screw loose, to have a few buttons missing
fresco como una lechuga – fresh as a daisy
fulano de tal – a certain person
gajes del oficio – occupational hazards, the risks and inconveniences inherent to a trade or profession
ganarse el pan – to earn one´s bread and butter
gastar pólvora en chimangos – to waste time or effort in an unworthy cause. The chimango is a bird if pray typical of Río de la Plata, the meat of which is inedible due to its hard texture and bad taste
gastar saliva – to speak uselessly, to waste one’s breath
importarle a alguien un bledo algo – to care not a wit for something or somebody, a bledo is a kind of wild berry, largely no longer consumed, which is unedible in a raw state and which, being devoid of taste, had to be spiced abundantly in order to make its consumption “bearable”. It became a popular image for anything valueless. This explains why this Spanish expression is used both in the negative and in the positive with the exact same meaning: in one case something is worth a bledo to us, which is nothing, and in the other even less than that. In short, “I couldn’t care less”.
ir de la ceca a la meca – to run about all over the place
ir de mal en peor – to go from bad to worse
ir por lana y salir trasquilado – We say this when we expect to obtain a benefit and instead suffer a loss
irse al garete – to spoil, to go down the drain, to go up the creek
irse cantando o silbando bajito – This Spanish idiom refers to the attitude of a person who in a state of shame abandons the scene discreetly, trying his best to go unnoticed
irse con la música a otra parte – to take one´s song and dance elsewhere, to take one´s act elsewhere
irse o despedirse a la francesa – to leave without saying good-bye
irse por los cerros de Úbeda – to ramble, to digress
írsele a uno el santo al cielo – This Spanish idiom is used when one forgets what one was just about to say or do
jugarse el pellejo – to risk one’s skin or life
La prudencia es la madre de la ciencia – Discretion is the better part of valor
Las palabras se las lleva el viento – Actions speak louder than words
Liso y llano! – Easy peasy/a piece of cake .
llegar como agua en mayo – to be just what the doctor ordered
llegar y besar el santo – to attain swiftly and luckily a goal which is usually demanding in terms of time and effort
llevar la procesión por dentro – to suffer greatly without showing it, to hide one´s feelings
llevarse como el perro y el gato – to fight like cats and dogs
llevarse el secreto a la tumba – to take a secret to one´s deathbed
llevarse un chasco – to suffer a sudden, surprising, unexpected or unforeseen reverse or disappointment
llorar a lágrima viva – to cry very intensely, to cry one´s eyes out
mandar a freír espárragos – to tell someone “go jump in a lake”, to send somebody packing
mandar a la porra – to send somebody packing, to tell somebody to get lost
mantener a raya – to keep or hold something or somebody at bay, to keep someone at arm’s length
mantener un tira y afloja – to bargain alternating severity and flexibility, to alternate truculent and soothing attitudes
mantenerse en sus trece – to be persistent and obstinate in asserting one’s point of view or carrying out one’s plans, to stick to one’s guns
más terco que una mula – as stubborn as a mule
más vale estar sólo que mal acompañado – A Spanish expression which means solitude is better than bad company
más vale maña que fuerza – Brain is better than brawn
más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando – A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Como quien oye llover- It’s like water off a duck’s back
más vale tarde que nunca – Better late than never
matar dos pájaros de un tiro – to kill two birds with one stone, to achieve two objectives with a single effort
matar la gallina de los huevos de oro – This Spanish idiom’s English counterpart: to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs; to lose, through blunder or miscalculation, something which could have been a continued source of benefit to ourselves
media naranja – better half, soulmate
meter la mula – to cheat
meter la pata – to put one’s foot in it, to put one´s foot in one´s mouth, to blunder through clumsiness or carelesness
meter violín en bolsa – This Spanish idiom is equivalent to irse con la música a otra parte:
to take one´s song and dance elsewhere, to take one´s act elsewhere
meterse en camisa de once varas – 1. to bite off more than one can chew, that is, to get entangled in a situation one cannot resolve, 2. to poke one´s nose into things that are not one´s business
meterse en el sobre – To hit the hay/go bed.
meterse en la boca del lobo – to enter into a dangerous situation, An English equivalent of this Spanish idiom: to enter the lion’s den
meterse en un berenjenal – a berenjenal is a plot where eggplant, which is notoriously spiny, is grown, to get one´s self into trouble, to get one´s self into a real jam
mirar de hito en hito – to stare intently at somebody or something
morderse la lengua – The English equivalent of this Spanish idiom is its direct translation: to bite one´s tongue – to keep one´s self from saying something indiscreet or compromising, to hold one’s tongue
morir con las botas puestas – to pass away when still active and at work
This Spanish idiom is equivalent to: to die with one’s boots on
mosquita muerta – This Spanish idiom is applied to persons who “look as if butter would not melt in their mouths”, who appear to be of placid temperament but, in the face of opportunity, act in ways we wouldn´t have expected of them.
mostrar la hilacha – to show the cloven hoof, to show one´s true colors
This Spanish idiom is used when personal defects come to light revealing the person’s true nature or personality
mover cielo y tierra – to move heaven and earth, to leave no stone unturned, to go to great lengths in pursuit of a goal
mucho ruido y pocas nueces – All mouth and no trousers
nacer de pie – to be born lucky
nada del otro mundo – nothing to write home about, nothing surprising or even noteworthy
nadar o ir contra la corriente – to swim against the tide, to go against the grain, to exert oneself in a direction opposite to that of the crowd
ni carne ni pescado – neither fish nor fowl, something ambiguous or indefinite
ni ebrio ni dormido – by no means and under no circumstances
ni fu ni fa – neither one thing nor the other, This Spanish expression is equivalent to ni carne ni pescado, see above.
ni lerdo ni perezoso – not to be backward in coming forward, This Spanish expression is used to comment on somebody´s agile and resolute way of deciding and acting in a certain situation.
ni muy muy ni tan tan – neither too much nor too little
ni pincha ni corta – to have no clout, to lack authority
ni soñarlo! – In your dreams!/No way!
ni tanto que queme al santo ni tanto que no lo alumbre – This Spanish expression is used to recommend the avoidance of extremes.
no caber ni un alfiler – no room to swing a cat, to be packed full
no dar pie con bola – This Spanish expression is used when somebody just “can’t get it together”.
no dar puntada sin nudo – This Spanish expression is used to comment upon someone´s careful, premeditated way of acting, giving to understand that the person in question protects himself as much as possible against risks of all sorts.
no dar su brazo a torcer – to not let one´s arm be twisted
This is said about a person who sticks firmly to his opinions and purposes without surrendering to other people´s.
no dar una – We use this Spanish expression when someone “doesn’t get one right”.
no dejar títere con cabeza – to spare nobody
no es oro todo lo que reluce – Not all that glitters is gold
no hay moros en la costa – the coast is clear, This Spanish expression is used to indicate that nothing and no one stands in our way and therefore we are free to proceed.
no hay pero que valga – no ifs, ands or buts
no hay tu tía – there´s no remedy to a certain situation or problem
no importarle a alguien un bledo algo – or alternatively
no pega ni con cola – This is said about something which is totally incongruent and doesn´t make any sense at all.
no pegar un ojo – to not sleep a wink, to not be able to sleep during the whole night
no por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano – A Spanish expression which means everything will happen in its own time
no saber a qué santo encomendarse – to be at one’s wit’s end, to be at a loss for advice and not to know whom to turn to
no saber alguien de la misa la media – to not know the first thing about something, to be totally ignorant and incompetent
no se ganó Zamora en una hora – Rome wasn´t built in a day.
no ser moco de pavo – to be nothing to sneeze at
no ser ni chicha ni limonada or no ser ni chicha ni limoná – neither fish nor foul, something indefinite and unclassifiable and therefore of scarce value. This is an exact equivalent of the Spanish expressionni carne ni pescado, but of Latinamerican origin. Chicha was once a popular alcoholic beverage product of the fermentation of maize.
no tener dónde caerse muerto – This Spanish expression expresses the idea of abject poverty: not to have a penny to one’s name.
no tener pelos en la lengua – to not mince one’s words, to speak out without inhibition
oír como quien oye llover – To be indifferent to what one he hears; to neither take to heart nor to be moved to action or to be in any way affected by what is being said to one. like water off a duck’s back
ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente – Out of sight, out of mind.
ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente – Out of sight, out of mind
oler a rayos, saber a rayos – to stink, to taste awful
olérselas or olerse la tostada – to suspect what´s going on
otro gallo cantara – things would be different -better, it would be a different matter altogether
otro que bien baila – This Spanish expression is an ironical comparison between the person at hand and another with similar defects.
oveja negra or oveja negra de la familia – black sheep, black sheep of the family, a person who stands out in a family or group of people due to negative qualities.
pagar con la misma moneda – to return a favor or take revenge for an offense
English equivalents of this Spanish expression: to pay somebody with like coin, to pay back in kind. Also, but exclusively in the negative sense: to give as good as one gets, to give somebody a taste of his own medicine, to pay tit for tat
pagar el pato – to foot the bill, to get a bum rap, to suffer or be punished undeservedly for someone else´s negligence, mistake, wrongdoing, etc.
pagar justos por pecadores – innocents pay for the sins of the guilty
pagar los platos rotos – to foot the bill, to carry the can, to be left to clean up the mess, to assume responsability for the damage
para colmo de males – to top it all off, to make matters worse, This Spanish expression is used to name the “crowning” circumstance which makes an already uncomfortable situation unbearable.
partirse de la risa – to split your sides laughing
pasar la noche en blanco – to spend a sleepless night, to not sleep a wink
pedir peras al olmo – to ask for the impossible, to try to squeeze blood out of a stone, to try to get blood out of a turnip
peor es nada – better than nothing
perder el tren – to miss the boat, to miss one´s opportunity
picar muy alto – to aim too high for one´s possibilities, to be over-ambitious
pisar los talons – to be at somebody´s heels, to follow closely
poner el arado delante de los bueyes – to put the cart before the horse, to do things the wrong way around making it impossible to obtain positive results
poner el dedo en la llaga – to rub salt into the wound, to touch a sore spot, This Spanish expression refers to someone mentioning, maybe even insistingly, a point which is a live source of pain or worry to the person he’s talking to.
poner el grito en el cielo – to hit the ceiling, to blow a fuse, to fly off the handle, to get a fit, to flip one’s lid, to give out a vehement cry of complaint and opposition
poner en tela de juicio – to call into question, to cast doubt on someone or something
poner las cartas sobre la mesa – to lay one’s cards on the table; to be totally open, truthful and sincere without holding anything back
poner las manos en el fuego por alguien – to put one’s hands in the fire for somebody, to stick one´s neck out for somebody, This Spanish expression is used to give testimony of one´s absolute faith in the moral integrity of a third person.
poner los pelos de punta – to make one’s hairs stand on end, to give the creeps, to provoke a state of extreme fear and alteration
poner los puntos sobre las íes – to dot the i’s and cross the t’s
This Spanish expression is used with two different meanings: to be overly meticulous and doctrinaire, and, as in the example below, to make a special effort to make matters clear and transparent.
poner pies en polvorosa – to go on the lam, to flee abruptly and hastily
poner toda la carne en el asador – To pull out all the stops/to go all out
poner u ofrecer la otra mejilla – to turn the other cheek, to remain lamely at the mercy of one´s agressor without attempting to defend oneself in any way
que si patatín, que si patatán…– This Spanish expression is an onomatopoeic rendition of stubborn, empty argumentation or vacuous excuses: blah, blah, blah.
quedar el rabo por desollar– This Spanish expression is used to say that the hardest part of a task still remains to be accomplished.
quedarse algo en el tintero – The meaning of this expression is that not all that could be said was said. Be it on purpose or due to forgetfulness certain things “remained in the inkwell”.
quedarse con los brazos cruzados – to remain with arms crossed/folded, to not lift a finger, to do nothing in a situation that calls for action
quedarse para vestir santos – to become an old maid, to remain unmarried
quemarse las cejas – to burn the midnight oil, to read or study a lot
quemarse las pestañas – to burn the midnight oil, to read or study a lot
quien calla otorga – Silence speaks volumes
quitarse el sombrero ante alguien o algo – to take one’s hat off to somebody or something. We use this Spanish expression to express respect and admiration.
recoger el guante – to pick up the gauntlet, to accept a challenge
reinventar la rueda – to reinvent the wheel, to toil in serch of a solution to a problem which has been solved a myriad of times before us, usually for lack of knowledge of how the problem is habitually solved by others.
saber alguien dónde le aprieta el zapato – to know where one´s sensitivities, foibles and vulnerabilities lie
sacar a alguien de quicio – to infuriate, enrage or madden somebody
sacar a alguien de sus casillas – to make someone lose his temper, to make someone go off the deep end
salir el tiro por la culata – to backfire. This Spanish expression is used when somebody´s effort not only fails but has a contrary effect to the one wished for and expected.
salvarse por un pelo – to be saved by a hair
segundas partes nunca fueron buenas – A Spanish expression which means that the second part of anything is never better or as good as the first
ser algo el caballito de batalla de alguien – to be somebody’s “old reliable” or “old standby”. This Spanish expression is used when there is a certain ability somebody excells in and relies on whenever he needs a sure, uncomplicated success.
ser de armas tomar – This Spanish expression is used referring to someone who faces up to his circumstances and is determined and willing to fight, in the broader sense of the word.
ser de pocas pulgas – to be short tempered, to be easily annoyed, to be someone who tolerates no nonsense
ser harina de otro costal – to be another question altogether
ser más bueno que el pan – to be as good as gold. This Spanish expression is used to describe a person who is unusually good and kind, someone who would never hurt a fly.
ser más el ruido que las nueces – to be all smoke and no fire, to be all bark and no bite. We use this Spanish expression to indicate that something is less than what it appears to be.
ser más viejo que Matusalén – to be as old as the hills, to be older than dirt, to be extremely old
ser moneda corriente – to be an everyday occurence, to be common currency
ser pan comido – to be as good as done… or… very easy: a piece of cake
ser un cero a la izquierda – to be a nobody, to be useless, to be unworthy of being taken notice of
Ser uña y carne – to be bosom buddies.
Siempre llueve sobre mojado – It never rains, it pours
sobre gustos no hay nada escrito – different strokes for different folks
tal para cual – made for one another, two of a kind
tal vez – maybe, perhaps
Tan cierto como dos y dos son cuatro – As sure as eggs
Tanto monta, monta tanto – It’s as broad as it is long
tarde o temprano – sooner or later
tener a alguien en el bolsillo – to have somebody in one’s pocket, to have someone eating out of one’s hand. This Spanish idiom is used when a person can count on somebody else fully and entirely, either because he has won his confidence and goodwill, because there is a debt of gratitude or because he has him under his control.
tener agallas – to have guts, to be brave and daring
tener algo en la punta de la lengua – to have a word on the tip of one’s tongue. Depending on the context, this Spanish idiom could either mean that someone is just about to say something, or, as in the excerpt below, that someone is trying to remember some piece of information he wanted to mention and feels “it’s right there, right on the tip of his tounge” and yet cannot get hold of it, it keeps “slipping” and eluding his memory.
tener el alma en un hilo – to be on pins and needles, to be on tenterhooks, to be in a state of great distress and apprehension, to take into acccount, to take into consideration, to bear in mind
tener en mente – to keep in mind, to have in mind
tener siete vidas, como el gato – to have nine lives, like a cat
tirar de la lengua – to induce a person to talk about something he would rather not speak about
tirar la piedra y esconder la mano – to hide the hand that throws the stone. This Spanish expression refers to someone who pretends innocence after deliberately harming someone.
to be worth its weight in gold, to be extremely valuable – venderse como pan caliente
to sell like hot cakes, to sell very fast
tomar a pecho – to take to heart. This Spanish idiom can mean one of two different things: to apply oneself to a task with great determination and effort, or, to be excessively offended in a certain situation.
tomar el pelo – to pull somebody’s leg, to tease and make fun of someone by misleading him to believe something which is not true
tomar el sol – to bask in the sun
tomar el toro por los cuernos – to take the bull by the horns, to tackle one’s difficulties head on
valer la pena – to be worth it, to be worth one’s while, to be worthwhile, to be worth the candle
venir como anillo al dedo – to fit like a glove. We use this Spanish expression when just the right thing needed makes its appearance, when something fits the bill.
ver el cielo abierto – We apply this expression to someone who encounters an opportunity to get out of a troublesome situation or to fulfill his wishes.
to see a way out
ver las estrellas – to see stars, This Spanish expression refers to visual sensations that great physical pain or a blow to the head can cause.
vérselas negras – to face great difficulties, We apply this expression to someone going through a rough patch, when the going gets tough.
viento en popa – to have the wind in one’s sails; to be sailing with wind and tide; to fare well and prosperously, favoured by good luck
vivir en la luna – to be on the moon, to moon, This Spanish expression is applied to absent-minded individuals who lack awareness of what transpires around them.
vivito y coleando – live and kicking, This Spanish expression is used to say that someone’s healthy and well, especially when presumed otherwise.
volver a las andadas – to fall back into the grips of old, bad habits
zapatero, a tus zapatos – let the cobbler stick to his last
One should abstain from judging and criticizing in matters beyond one’s realm of knowledge.
Word document at:
WereVerse Universe Baby!
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esta es la leche!
Excellent resource to create an interactive matching activity for second language languages!
Great compilation, thanks!
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Was looking for the idiom for ‘hit the ground running’ and sadly I could not see it, but found many other interesting idioms. Thanks
Very interesting website. Thanks. Are you familiar with the geography of the area between Caceres and Seville? At what point is it necessary to cross the Sierra Morenas range? Which towns (that existed in 1500) are located in the mountain range on the way to Seville? I can’t get a sense of it looking at maps. Thanks very much.
I grew up in Latin America not Spain. I can say Spain is a little more rigid in terms of culture than Latin America and of course Spain is in Europe and part of the EU. This means Spain is more developed but also more expensive. I have lived 40 years abroad and can say that one should visit before living in a place.