Is there a French equivalent of Spanglish

Spanish phrases that will make you laugh

If you're learning Spanish, chances are you've already stumbled across some confusing expressions that don't make any sense if translated literally into your native language. They still seem to be meaningful in the context of the conversation. Do not worry! You didn't misunderstand it, you just came across a Spanish phrase.

Idioms are phrases or fixed expressions that are used with a symbolic meaning rather than the real, literal meaning. Together with proverbs and idioms, these form the “formulaic language”, as it is called in linguistics.

These idioms and proverbs are very common in every language and are mostly very closely related to the culture with which that language is associated. It is estimated that it is in the english language there are approx. 25,000 idioms and idioms and that the number of proverbs is increasing every day, as all languages ​​are constantly changing and developing.

Phrases in Spanish

Like all other languages ​​in the world, the Spanish language uses a lot of idioms, especially in the informal spoken language. Some of these idioms have a direct equivalent in other languages, while others seem impossible to translate. In some cases we can guess the meanings of these Spanish expressions from context, but in many other cases it is impossible to understand them without first hearing them, even if one speaks Spanish at a very high level.

Most of the idioms are very typical of the country or region they come from as they are very much entangled with the culture, history and beliefs that are held. Specifically, for a language as widespread as Spanish, this means that the number of idioms is enormous. This is because the idioms used by Spaniards do not necessarily have to be the same as those used in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia or Venezuela.

In this post we will show you 40 idioms in Spanish that are typical of mainland Spain (although some of them are definitely used internationally). We have divided the idioms into four different categories and give you a literal translation, meaning and, if available, a German equivalent.

Sayings with animals

PhraseLiteral translationimportanceequivalent to
Tenerife vista de linceHave the eyesight of a lynxHave very good eyesightHave lynx eyes / eagle eyes
Ser un gallinaBe a chickenBe a cowardBe a scaredy
Estar en la edad del pavoTo be the age of a chest faucetYou're a teenager, you're going through pubertyBe green behind the ears [this may not be the best match, but unfortunately we couldn't find another expression]
Ser la oveja negraTo be the black sheepNot good for anything, you are the unsuccessfulTo be the black sheep
Estar como una cabraBe like a goatBe crazyTo have a tit / to have a bird
No ver tres en un burroNot being able to see three (people) on one donkeyHave very poor eyesightTo be a slow worm / to be blind as a mole
Dar gato por liebreGive a cat for a rabbitCheat on someone / pull someone offCheating someone / pulling the fur over their ears
Ser un rataBe a ratBeing stingyBe a tight fist
Verle las orejas al loboSee the wolf's earsFeel dangerDanger recognized, danger averted
Tenerife memoria de pezHave a fish's memoryHave poor memory / recallHave a memory like a sieve


Phrases with food and beverages

PhraseLiteral translationimportanceequivalent to
No importar un pepino / un rábano / un pimientoNot being of the importance of a cucumber / radish / paprikaTo be insignificantNot worth mentioning
Ser pan comidoTo be eaten breadBe very easyBe a no-brainer
Ponerse de mala lecheGot into bad milkGet in a bad moodGetting up on the wrong foot [German focuses more on status than on developing one's bad mood]
Dar calabazas a alguienGive pumpkins to someoneTo reject someoneGive someone the basket
Ser un melónBe a melonSomeone is not very intelligentBe a bullshit
Temblar como un flanTo be shaky as a puddingBe very nervousTo sit on hot coals
Ponerse como un tomatoDevelop into a tomatoTo reddento turn red
Ser un bombónBe a candySomeone looks very goodBe a feast for the eyes
Dar la vuelta a la tortillaTurn the omelette overReverse the situation for the oppositeTurn the tables
Ser del año de la peraBe from the year of the pearSomeone is very oldcome from anno Tobak / have many years under their belt


Idioms with body parts

PhraseLiteral translationimportanceequivalent to
Lavarse read manosWash your handsAvoid the responsibilityPass the buck on
Hacer algo al pie de la letraDo something down to the base of the letterDo something exactly as directedDo it down to the smallest detail
No tener ni pies ni cabezaWithout feet or headDoesn't make senseHave neither hand nor foot
Meter la pataPut your leg on itMake a mistakeMake a mistake / lay an egg
No pegar ojoDon't turn a blind eyeSomeone can't sleepCan't turn a blind eye
Sin pelos en la lenguaWithout hair in your mouthBe directDon't mince your words
Estar hasta las naricesBe up your noseTo be upset about something (again and again)Fed up
Dormir a pierna sueltaSleep with one leg looseSleep very deeplySleep like a bear / stone
Buscar tres pies al gatoLooking for the three legs on a catMake something more complicated than it iscarry the church around the village
Andar con pies de plomoRun with lead feetBe very carefulLike walking on eggs


Sayings with colors

PhraseLiteral translationimportanceequivalent to
No haber colorHave no colorThere is no comparisonCompare apples with pears
Tenerife la negraThe blacks havebe unluckyPull the buck / be a bad luck raven
Dar en el blancoThrow the whiteBeing correctHit the mark
Verlo todo de color de rosaSee everything in pinkSee everything with extreme optimismSee something through rose-colored glasses
Buscar el príncipe azulLook for the blue princeLooking for the perfect manWait for the knight / prince on the white steed
Ponerse moradoTurn purpleLots of foodEat like a barn thresher
Estar sin blancaWithout being whiteto be brokeTo be as poor as a church mouse
Poner verde a alguienLet someone go greenCriticize someone / blaspheme someoneBreak your mouth over someone
Tenerife sangre azulHave blue bloodBe from a noble or very wealthy familyHave blue blood
Encontrar tu media naranjaFind half of the orangeFind the perfect partnerFind your better half


Learn the “real” Spanish with Lingoda

When learning a language, not only is it important that you learn the formal registers, but it is also important that you can understand less formal language. This is the language we hear on the street, in interpersonal relationships, on television programs, etc. This is best learned from a native speaker. Native speakers have a deeper understanding of the language and know exactly how to use it in real situations. This is with us Lingoda fully aware. Therefore, our qualified and trained teachers are all native speakers of the language they teach. When you study Spanish with us, we guarantee that you are learning the “real” Spanish, so that you can use some Spanish idioms when you spend time with your new ones Spanish friends and chat.