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See even more spanish idioms.  


Spanish idioms Literal translation English equivalent Picture representation
nadar entre dos aguas to swim between two waters to sit on the fence  
Que barbaridad What madness, atrocity Goodness me / I can't believe it  
Más majo que la mar salada

Nicer than the salty sea Incredibly nice  
Criarse en buenos pañales To be raised in good nappies To be born with a silver spoon in your mouth  
Pagar los platos rotos To pay for the broken plates To carry the can  
Criarse en buenos pañales To be raised in good nappies to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth  
No tiene ni padre ni madre ni perrito que le ladre he doesn't have a father or a mother or a little dog to bark for him He is all alone in the world  
Estar endeudado hasta las cejas To be up to your eyebrows in debt to be up to your eyes in debt  
No me des la lata

don ʼt give me the tin

Leave me in peace

No estar para fiestas To be in no mood for parties To be in no mood for having fun  
Cuéntaselo a tu abuela Tell that to your grandmother Pull the other one  
poner los cuernos a alguien to put horns on somebody to cheat on somebody  
parece mentira que it seems a lie that I can't believe that  
no tener nombre not to have a name to be unspeakable, despicable  
Unos cardan la lana y otros cobran la fama Some card the wool and others gain the glory Some do all the work and others take all the credit  
Se me puso la piel de gallina I got chicken skin I got goose bumps  
me suena a chino it sounds like Chinese to me it`s all Greek to me  
Poner a alguien por las nubes To put somebody in the clouds To praise someone highly  
Hacer dedo To do thumb To hitch-hike  
Fulminar a alguien con la mirada To strike somebody with lightning with a look To give someone the daggers look
beber como un esponja to drink like a sponge to drink like a fish drink-like-a-fish.jpg
Saber la biblia en verso To know the bible in verse To know absolutely everything la-biblia-en-verso.jpg
No es santo de mi devoción He is not a saint of my devotion He`s not my cup of tea he-is-not-my-type.jpg
Bailar el agua a alguien To dance the water to somebody To suck up to somebody bailar-el-agua.jpg
Borron y cuenta nueva Crossing out and a new sum Let`s make a fresh start lets-make-a-fresh-start.jpg
Hastas las tantas Until the so many Until all hours - very late hasta-las-tantas.jpg
Atan los perros con longaniza They tie up dogs with sausages. The streets are paved with gold.
tie up dogs with sausages
Chupar camara To suck the camera To seek a lot of media attention
chupar camara
Estar entre la espada y la pared To be between the sword and the wall To be between the devil and the deep blue sea
Disfrutar como un enano To enjoy yourself like a dwarf To have a brilliant time seven-dwarfs.jpg
Cargar con el muerto To carry the dead man To carry the can
Ser el ojo derecho de alguien To be somebody's right eye To be the apple of someone's eye
En el quinto infierno in the fifth hell In the back of beyond
Mi media naranja My half orange My better half (partner) mi-media-naranja.jpg
Aburrirse como una ostra To be as bored as an oyster To be bored rigid.
Bailar al son que tocan To dance to the tune they`re playing To toe the line
Saber de letras To know letters To be an egghead
Contigo ni a China me voy I'm not even going to China with you I want nothing to do with you.
Tener madera To have wood To have what it takes to have what it takes
Esta por el suelo It`s down on the floor It`s the pits
its the pits
Tener los codos pelados To have the elbows peeled To be tired from studying
tired of studying
Poner el cascabel al gato To put the bell on the cat. To stick one's neck out


Por querer saber, la zorra perdio la cola Wanting to know the fox lost his tail Curiosity killed the cat

curiosity killed the cat

Tener un cacao en la cabeza To have a cocoa in the head To be confused, mixed up.


Venderse como pan caliente To sell like hot bread To sell like hot cakes
hot cakes
Irse por las ramas To go through the branches To beat around the bush

beat about the bush bird book

Hablar como un loro To talk like a parrot To be a chatterbox. To talk nineteen to the dozen.


Amor con amor se paga Love with love pays for itself One good turn deserves another.

one good turn deserves another

Hacer su agosto To make one's August To make a killing.
make a killing
Pueblo chico infierno grande Small town great fire Living in a small town can be hell

small town

Poderoso caballero es Don Dinero Mighty gentleman is Don Money Money makes the world go round / Money is power, power is money don dinero
Ser uña y carne To be fingernail and flesh. To be bosom buddies. bosom buddies
Buscarle las pulgas a alguien To look for someone`s fleas To irritate someone. To provoke perrito enojado
Seguir en sus trece To keep in one`s thirteen To persist. To stick to one`s guns. stick to your guns

Siempre me toca bailar con la más fea.


I always have to dance with the ugliest girl.

I always get the short end of the stick / I always draw the short straw. I always have to dance with the ugliest girl
Salir por la ventana To leave through the window To sneak out the back door.
leave through the window
Tengamos la fiesta en paz. We have the peace party. Let`s have some peace and quiet. peace and quiet
Revolver el gallinero To stir the chicken To put the cat among the pigeons. put the cat among the pigeons
A falta de pan, buenas son tortas. Where there is no bread, cakes are fine. It will do just fine. One thing is as good as another. bread and cakes
Parar parar un tren To stop a train In large quantities. Tons of parar parar un tren
Salir el tiro por la culata To have the shot go out the butt of the rifle To backfire. To have the opposite result from what was anticipated. to back fire
Empezar la casa por el tejado To begin the house with the roof To put the cart before the horse cart before the cart
Atar cabos To tie ends To put two and two together two and two - four brothers
Tonto de capirote Idiot chief Dope of dopes. Really stupid dope of dopes
Tiene un humor de perros He`s in a dog mood He`s in a foul mood in a dog mood
Para colmo de desgracias For the culmination of misfortunes To top it all off misfortune
Un clavo saca otro clavo One nail takes out another nail. One problem overshadows another. nails
Estar como agua para chocolate. To be like water for chocolate. To be at boiling point (anger or passion) como agua para chocolate
Echar flores To throw flowers To pat on the back. To compliment echar flowers - to pat on the back
Dar en el madre To give in the mother To hit hard. To hurt someone where they are vulnerable dar en la madre - to hit hard
Un hotel de mala muerte a hotel of bad death A grotty hotel grotty hotel - fawlty towers
Correr como un galgo To run like a greyhound To run like a gazelle greyhounds
Valer su peso en oro To be worth its weight in gold To be worth a fortune gold
Acostarse con las gallinas To go to bed with the chickens To go to bed early sleeping cat
Aflojar la cuerda To loosen the cord To take a breather loosen up
Poner en las nubes To put in the clouds. To praise to the skies. To highly praise. clouds
Estar metida en un rollo To be put in a roll To get into a bind. To get into hot water. to get into hot water or get into a bind
En boca cerrada no entran moscas In a closed mouth flies don`t enter. Loose talk can get you into trouble. en boca cerrada no entran moscas
El hijo de papá Daddy`s child Rich kid. Kid who has everything provided for them. rich kids
Mas loco que una cabra Crazier than a she-goat Mad as a hatter mad as a hatter
Reparar en migajas To notice crumbs To split hairs. To pay attention to unimportant things instead of the bigger issues. split hairs
No dar pie con bola To not hit the ball with one`s foot To not be correct. To make a mess of things. To not do things right to not hit the ball with one`s foot
Donde el diablo perdio el poncho Where the devil lost his poncho In a god-forsaken spot Devil's poncho
Meterse en el sobre To put oneself in the envelope To hit the sack. To go to bed to hit the sack
Meter la cuchara To put in the spoon To put in one`s two penny worth spoons
Chiste rojo Red joke Dirty joke dirty joke
No calentar el asiento To not warm the seat To not last long to warm the seat
Tener un corazon de acero To have a heart of steel To have a heart of stone heart of steel
Confundir la gimnasia con la magnesia To confuse gymnastics with magnesia To mix apples and oranges apples and oranges
Montar un número. To put on a number. To make a scene. make a scene
Llevar en palmas To carry palm trees To treat like a king. To pamper. to treat like a king
Comer a dos carrillos To eat with two cheeks To serve two masters. To work for two people. to eat with two cheels
Tomar el pelo a alguien To pull someone`s hair To pull someone`s leg, to make fun of to pull someones leg
El vivo retrato de alguien The living portrait of someone The spitting image of someone twin bears
Flotar como el corcho en el agua To float like cork in water To come out on top, come out well despite adversity cork float
No dar el brazo a torcer To not give one`s arm to twist To be stubborn no dar el brazo a torcer
Cortado por la misma tijera Cut by the same scissors Very similar, chip off the old block chip off the old block
No dejar piedra sobre piedra To not leave stone upon stone To leave nothing standing, to destroy completely demolish all
Tener alma a acero To have a soul of steel To have a heart of stone, to be without feelings heart of stone

Hacer alharacas


To make a fuss To make a big deal (of something) no big deal
Ser plato de segunda mesa To be a plate of a second table To feel like a second class citizen second class citizen
A falta de pan, buenas son tortas Where there is no bread, cakes are fine It will do just fine. One thing is as good as another. cakes
Quemarse las pestañas To burn one`s eyelashes To burn the midnight oil. To cram to cram for exams
Hijo de la gata, ratones mata son of the cat kills rats Like father, like son like father like son
No van por ahi los tiros The shots aren`t going that way barking up the wrong tree barking up the wrong tree
Ni soñarlo In your dreams No way in your dreams
Fumarse una clase To smoke oneself a class To skip a class fumarse una clase
Irsele a alguien la lengua To make a slip of the tongue Speak without thinking slip of the tongue
Pon los pies sobre la tierra Put your feet on the ground Come down to earth feet on the ground
La sopa boba Crazy soup Life on Easy Street easy street
El dia de arreglo de cuentas The day of settling accounts Day of reckoning judgement day
Llevar en palmas To carry with palm trees To treat like a king, pamper
Con las manos en la masa With the hands in the dough Red-handed caught red-handed
Ponerse las botas To put one`s boots on To make a killing boots
Huir del fuego y caer en las brasas To flee from the fire and fall into the coals From the frying pan into the fire from the frying pan into the fire
La despidada de soltero Sending off of the single man Stag party stag party
Darle a uno una buena lejia To give someone a good dose of bleach To give someone a good scolding bleach
Hacer mil maromas para To do a thousand acrobatic tricks in order to To go to a lot of trouble to, to spare no effort to acrobatics
Bajale de crema a tus tacos Decrease the cream in your tacos Don`t exaggerate tacos
Estar al loro To be at the parrot To pay attention, be attentive, be up to date parrot
Criado(a) a lo bruto raised in a brutish way Brought up in a barn brought up in a barn
Ser plato de segunda mesa To be second-table dish To play second fiddle violinist
Jugar con dos barajas To play with two decks To cheat, act with duplicity two decks of cards
Cantar de plano To sing clearly To spill the beans spilled the beans
Echar agua al mar To throw water into the sea To be pointless water
Con los brazos cruzados With arms crossed Twiddling one`s thumbs twiddling thumbs
Marcando ocupado Dialling the busy signal Not understanding anything out of it
Encendersele el bombillo To have the lightbulb turned on To get a brilliant idea light bulb idea
Más feo que el pecado Uglier than the sin As ugly as sin ugly as sin
Hacer su santa voluntad To do one`s holy will To do as one pleases saint of the day
Por los buenas o por las malas For the good or the bad One way or another good bad and ugly
No saber ni papa de Not to know even a potato about To know nothing about Mr Potato
Caer chuzos de punta To rain sharp spears To rain cats and dogs
Caer chuzos de punta
Tragarle a uno la tierra To be swallowed by the earth To disappear into nowhere earth
No cerrar la puerta To not close the door to not cut down on choices/options, or, not to burn one`s bridges burning bridge
Quedar a la altura de su zapatilla To remain at the height of one`s slipper To be a failure slippers
Contigo ni a China me voy I`m not even going to China with you You`re impossible travel to China
Andar de Herodes a Pilato To walk from Herod to Pilate To go from bad to worse pontius pilate
Ser un espantapájaro To be a scarecrow Ugly as sin scarecrow
Tener mal templada la guitarra To have one's guitar badly tuned. To be in a bad mood bad mood
Ser del montón To be of the heap No great shakes, nothing to write home about no great shakes
Llover sobre mojado To rain over the wetness It never rains but it pours. it never rains but it pours
Ser mas del campo que las amapolas To be more from the country than the poppies To be a hick poppies in flanders fields
Estar entre la espada y la pared To be between the sword and the wall To be caught between a rock and a hard place rock and a hard place
Como pez en el agua Like a fish in the sea To be in one`s element like a fish in the sea
Un viento de mil demonios A wind of a thousand demons A howling gale viento de mil demonios
Estar de veinticinco alfileres To be of twenty-five pins To be dressed to kill dressed to kill
Tener angel To have an angel to have charm, to be charming rafael's angels
Darle perro a uno To give someone a dog To stand someone up, to break a date give someone a dog
Largar a otro el mochuelo To pass the owl on to someone else To pass the buck pass the buck
Dar en un hueso To hit a bone To hit a snag to hit a snag
Flipar en colores To flip colours To be totally amazed flipar en colores
Parecerse como dos gotas de agua To look like two drops of water To look like two peas in a pod two peas in a pod
Tener un tornillo flojo To have a loose screw To be crazy to be crazy
El mundo es un pañuelo The world is a handkerchief It`s a small world it`s a small world
Toda va viento en popa Everything goes wind at the stern All is going well all is going well
Dejar a uno en la estacada To leave someone in the stockade To leave someone in the lurch leave you in the lurch
No es cosa del otro mundo It`s not anything from another world It`s nothing to write home about nothing to write home about
Decirle a alguien cuatro verdades To tell someone four truths To give someone a piece of one`s mind to give someone a piece of your mind
Coger a alguien con las manos en la masa To catch someone with his or her hands in the dough To catch someone red-handed to catch someone red-handed
Costar un ogo de la cara To cost an eye of the face To cost an arm and a leg to cost an arm and a leg
Aquello fue llegar y besar el santo That was arriving and kissing the saint It was like taking candy from a baby taking candy from a baby
Andar pisando huevos To walk stepping on eggs To tread on thin ice to tread on thin ice
Venir con músicas To come with music To tell tall tales tall things
Reir con risa de conejo To laugh with the laughter of a rabbit To force a laugh to force a laugh
Empezar la casa por el tejado To start building the house at the roof To put the cart before the horse to put the cart before the horse
Ir al grano To go to the seed Get to the point to get to the point
Faltarle a uno un tornillo to have a screw missing To be nuts to be nuts
Cortar el bacalao To cut the codfish To rule the roost rule the roost
No hay mal que por bien no venga There is not badly that by well come not Every cloud has a silver lining every cloud has a silver lining
Tirar las frutas frescas con las pochas Throwing the fresh fruits with the green beans To throw the baby out with the bathwater don`t throw baby out with bathwater
Nadie esta contento con su suerte Nobody is content with his luck the grass is always greener on the other side the grass is always greener on the other side
A lo hecho pecho To it fact chest It`s no use crying over spilt milk no use crying over spilt milk
Mas vale prevenir que curar More valuable to prevent than cure Better safe than sorry better safe than sorry
No hay que vender la piel del oso (antes de cazarlo) Don't sell the the bear skin before hunting it Don`t count your chickens (before they are hatched) don't count your chickens
Una puntada a tiempo ahorra ciento A stitch in times saves hundred A stitch in time saves nine a stitch in time saves nine
Estar hasta en la sopa To be even in the soup There's no getting away from him
Estar hasta en la sopa
No hay tiempo como el presente   There's no time like the present there's no time like the present
Caerse de su burro To fall from your donkey To admit your mistake
Caerse de su burro
Hay cuatro gatos There are four cats There's hardly anyone
Hay cuatro gatos
Estar como boca de lobo To be like a wolf's mouth To be pitch dark
Estar como boca de lobo
Darle perro a alguien To give someone a dog To stand someone up (on a date)
Darle perro a alguien
Cuando las ranas críen pelo When frogs grow hair When pigs might fly
Cuando las ranas críen pelo
No oír ni el vuelo de una mosca To not even hear a fly flying You could hear a pin drop No oír ni el vuelo de una mosca

Mas vale pajaro en mano que ciento volando

A bird in the hand is more valuable than a hundred flying A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush a bird in the hand
A quien madruga Dios lo ayuda To whom rises early God helps him

It`s the early bird that catches the worm.

Early bed early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise)

early bird catches worm
mas vale mana que fuerza more value brain than strength brain is better than brawn brain better than brawn
No se gano Zamora en una hora

You don`t win Zamora in an hour

(Zamora is a Spanish town where there was a battle)

Rome wasn`t built in a day Rome not built in a day
Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente Eyes that don`t see, heart that doesn`t feel out of sight, out of mind out of sight out of mind

Nunca llueve a gusto de todos


Lo que a uno cura a otro mata

It never rains to the liking of all


what to one priest another kills

One man`s meat is another man`s poison ones man meat is another mans poison
Antes de hablar pensar Before speaking think Think before you speak think before you speak
Lo que no cuesta dinero,siempre es bueno That which costs nothing, always is good The best things in life are free best things in life are free
El que tiene boca se equivoca The one that has mouth is mistaken We all make mistakes we all make mistakes
Lo que siembres cosecharas quien siembra vientos recoge tempestades What sowings harvested who sows winds collects storms As you sow, so shall you reap as you sow so shall you reap
Quien a hierro mata, a hierro muere Who to iron kills, to iron dies They that live by the sword die by the sword live by sword die by sword
Aunque la mona se vista de seda mona se queda Although the monkey itself monkey silk view remains You can`t make a silk purse out of a sow`s ear silk purse out of sows ear
Nadie sabe lo que vale el agua hasta que falta Nobody knows what is worth the water until he lacks You never know what you`ve got till it`s gone never know what you had
En el peligro se conoce el amigo In the danger the friend is known A friend in need is a friend indeed friend in need is a friend indeed
En boca cerrada no entran moscas Flies don`t enter a closed mouth If you keep your mouth shut, you won`t put your foot in it keep your mouth shut
lo barato sale caro cheap it leaves expensive If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly lo barato sale caro
Al perro que duerme, no lo despiertes

To the dog that sleeps it do not awake


Let sleeping dogs lie let sleeping dogs lie
la nesesidad hace maestros the necessity makes teachers necessity is the mother of invention necessity is the mother of invention
Loro viejo no aprende a hablar Old parrot does not learn to speak You can`t teach an old dog new tricks you can`t teach an old dog new tricks
El que rie ultimo,rie mejor He who laughs last, laughs best He who laughs last laughs longest he who laughs last laughs longest
El sapo a la sapa tienela por guapa The male toad to the female toad is considered good-looking Beauty is in the eye of the beholder beauty in eye of beholder
Hablando del rey de Roma - (y el que se asoma) Talking of the king of Rome - (and he appears) talk of the devil - (and the devil appears) talk of the devil
Mas vale tarde que nunca More value late than never better late than never better late than never
Si quieres ser bien servido, sirvete a ti mismo If you want to be well served, serve you to you same If you want a thing done well, do it yourself if you want a thing done well, do it yourself
El tiempo es oro Time is gold Time is money time is money
Reír con risa de conejo To laugh like a rabbit To force a laugh
Reír con risa de conejo



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