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Published on: Vocabulary

Essential Spanish Idioms for Native-Like Expression

Greetings, fellow language lovers! Welcome to an exciting journey into the captivating realm of Spanish idioms. Get ready to explore the delightful charm of these linguistic gems, as we uncover their unique flair that enriches the Spanish language. Curious to learn more about these expressions? Stay tuned for an enlightening adventure!

What are Spanish idioms? 

Idioms, in any language, are phrases or expressions that have a figurative meaning, separate from their literal translation. And Spanish idioms are no exception. They’re just like English idioms – a bunch of words tossed together that wouldn’t make sense to a foreigner. But to a native Spanish speaker, they’re as clear as a bell. Think of them as cultural inside jokes, except they’re not always funny. Sometimes they’re wise, sometimes silly, and just downright weird.

Many Spanish idioms have figurative meanings that may not be immediately obvious from their literal translations. Understanding the context and cultural background can help decipher their true meanings.

Why You Should Learn Idiomatic Expressions in Spanish

You might wonder why it’s necessary to learn Spanish idioms. Well, idiomatic expressions are the key to sounding like a native speaker. They add authenticity to your speech and show you’ve gone beyond basic vocabulary and grammar. Plus, idioms are the perfect icebreakers when chatting with Spanish-speaking friends!

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Here are The Most Common Spanish Idioms 

Curious about the most common Spanish idioms? We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a sneak peek:

Echar agua al mar

Let’s dive into the Spanish idiom about the ocean: “Echar agua al mar.” Its literal translation would be “to throw water into the sea.” Sounds odd, right? The idiomatic expression, however, signifies something unnecessary or redundant – kind of like adding water to the ocean, which is already teeming with it!

Ser pan comido 

Ever come across something as easy as slicing a piece of bread? Well, in Spanish, that’s precisely how you’d express it! “Ser pan comido,” literally translated as “to be eaten bread,” is a common Spanish idiom equivalent to the English expression, “a piece of cake.” It’s used to signify something simple or easy to accomplish.

Estar en las nubes

Translated as “to be in the clouds,” this idiom is akin to the English equivalent “head in the clouds,” used to describe someone who is daydreaming or lost in their thoughts.

Spanish idioms are renowned for their expressiveness and ability to convey complex ideas or emotions concisely.

Tomar el pelo

Here’s a fun one! It means “to take the hair,” but figuratively, it equates to pulling someone’s leg or teasing them.

No hay color

This one translates to “there is no color,” and it’s used when there’s no comparison between two things, with one being far superior to the other.

Tener pelos en la lengua

Don’t be alarmed if a native Spanish speaker tells you this. It’s not a comment on your grooming! The literal translation is “to have hairs on the tongue,” but it’s a metaphor for someone who doesn’t hold back their words, akin to “not mincing words” in English.

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Darle la vuelta a la tortilla

The literal translation is “to flip the tortilla,” but it means to turn a situation around.

Tirar la casa por la ventana

Next on our list is “tirar la casa por la ventana,” which means to throw the house out of the window. Figuratively, it means to spare no expense or to go all out. So, if you’re planning an extravagant celebration, you’d be “tirando la casa por la ventana”!

Estar como una cabra

“Estar como una cabra” translates literally to “to be like a goat.” Figuratively, it’s used to describe someone a bit eccentric or crazy. So, the next time you see someone acting odd, you can say they’re “como una cabra”!

Tu media naranja

Tu media naranja,  when translated, means “your half orange.” But don’t let the literal translation fool you. It refers to one’s perfect match or soulmate. So if you’ve found your “media naranja,” you’ve found your other half.

Buscar al príncipe azul

This translates to “looking for the blue prince.” Its English equivalent is “looking for Prince Charming,” referring to the search for the perfect partner.

Un clavo saca otro clavo

Literally, “a nail removes another nail.” It means that a new love interest can help you forget an old one, similar to “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” in English.

Ponerse rojo como un tomate

This means “to become as red as a tomato,” which refers to blushing from embarrassment.

Tiene más lana que un borrego

Literally, “has more wool than a lamb.” This is used to refer to someone very wealthy.

Lo dijo de labios para fuera

This translates to “he said it from his lips outward,” meaning that someone said something they didn’t mean.

Estar más sano que una pera

It translates as “to be healthier than a pear,” meaning to be very healthy.

Se me hace agua la boca

Literally, “My mouth is watering.” It’s used when something (usually food) looks or smells very appetizing.

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La gallina de los huevos de oro

The hen that lays the golden eggs. It refers to a very profitable resource or business.

Tener mala leche 

Literally, “to have bad milk.” It’s used to describe someone who is in a bad mood or has a nasty temperament.

Just like accents and vocabulary, idioms can vary greatly from one Spanish-speaking region to another. Learning idioms specific to certain regions can enhance your understanding of local culture and language nuances. 

Also, it’s important to know that some idioms can only be used in certain regions exclusively, “Tener mala leche” is mostly used in Spain

Dar en el clavo

This translates to “to hit the nail.” It’s used when someone has hit the mark or made a correct assumption or statement.

Ser un ave nocturna

This means “to be a night bird,” referring to someone active and lively at night, similar to a “night owl” in English.

Estar en la edad del pavo

Literally, “to be in the turkey age.” It’s used to describe the awkward phase of adolescence.

Dar gato por liebre

To “give a cat for a hare,” means to deceive someone or to sell something of inferior quality as if it were of high quality.

Hablar del rey de Roma

This means “to speak of the king of Rome.” It’s used when someone or something you were just talking about suddenly appears.

Ser como buscar una aguja en un pajar

This means “to be like looking for a needle in a haystack,” referring to something extremely difficult to find due to its rarity or because it is well hidden.

Dar a luz

This means “to give light,” but it is used to refer to the act of giving birth.

Ser una gallina

This translates to “to be a hen.” It’s used to describe someone scared or cowardly.

Te comió la lengua el gato

This translates to “the cat ate your tongue.” It’s used when someone is surprisingly silent or refuses to speak.

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Ready To Learn More Spanish Words?

Like any aspect of language learning, mastering Spanish idioms requires practice and exposure to authentic language use. Incorporate idioms into your daily conversations and reading materials to improve your proficiency over time.

Alright, amigos, you’ve journeyed through the whimsical world of Spanish idioms. Now, it’s time to take your knowledge for a spin. Start with a free 1:1 class or free 7 days of group classes with SpanishVIP, and put your understanding of the literal meaning of these expressions into practice!

But don’t stop at idioms, immerse yourself further in Spanish culture with Spanish Riddles and Spanish Slang. Laugh with native speakers over Funny Spanish Jokes, learn more Spanish idioms, and dive deeper into Spanish expressions that reflect the vibrant spirit of Latin America. Broaden your Spanish vocabulary. and take a crack at the most popular Spanish idioms, daring to go beyond the idiom’s literal translation.

Remember, learning a foreign language is more than just translating words. It’s about embracing a new way of seeing and communicating with the world. So, why wait? Leap into your Spanish journey today, and before you know it, you’ll be chatting like a native speaker. ¡Vamos!

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