50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (2022)

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (1)

September 3, 2021 by Luis F. Dominguez Spanish Vocabulary 0 comments

If your goal is to speak Spanish like a native, then at some point you will have to learn to use a variety of Spanish idioms.

Why not start today?

In this post, I’m discussing what Spanish idioms are and why you should learn them. I will also give you a list of some of the most common Spanish idioms that you can use in your everyday conversations.

What’s an Idiom?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements or in its grammatically atypical use of words.”

In other words, an idiom is a phrase or an expression that conveys a meaning different from what its words actually say. For example, saying something is “a piece of cake” is an English idiom to express that something is easy to do.

Spanish Idioms

Every language has its own idioms and Spanish isn’t the exception. For language learners, idioms tend to be a big challenge, as they can be deceiving expressions. It doesn’t matter how many vocabulary words you have learned, the meaning of idioms doesn’t depend on the meaning of their words but on the context and cultural background.

A proper use and a good understanding of idioms are signs of an advanced learner of the language. Studying Spanish idioms is a way to take your Spanish skills to the next level and dig deep into the most peculiar intricacies of the language.

50 Best Spanish Idioms

The following list of Spanish idioms includes the literal meaning of Spanish idioms in English, an explanation of the actual meaning of the idioms, and an example of each one so you can learn how to use them.

Spanish Idioms About Love

1. Encontrar tu media naranja

Literal meaning: to find your half orange.

Actual meaning: to find the love of your life.

Example:

Carlos encontró su media naranja y se casó.
Carlos found the love of his life and got married.

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (2)

2. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente

Literal meaning: eyes that don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel.

Actual meaning: if you are not around to witness something negative, or don’t find out about it, then it cannot hurt you.

Example:

No te preocupes por lo que los demás digan de ti; ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Don’t worry about what other people say about you; out of sight, out of mind.

3. Buscar el príncipe azul

Literal meaning: to look for the blue prince.

Actual meaning: to look for prince charming.

Example:

Sigo buscando a mi príncipe azul.
I keep looking for my prince Charming.

4. Más vale pájaro en mano, que cien volando

Literal meaning: one bird in the hand is more valuable than one hundred flying birds.

Actual meaning: value or focus on what you have, instead of what you haven’t gotten.

Example:

Tomaré la plaza que me ofrecieron en lugar de seguir esperando. Más vale pájaro en mano, que cien volando.
I will accept the offer rather than keep waiting. I’d better take advantage of what is actually available.

5. Un clavo saca a otro clavo

Literal meaning: one nail pulls out another nail.

Actual meaning: a new person will make you forget the old one.

Example:

Juan olvidó muy rápidamente a María.
—Claro, porque conoció a Erika. Un clavo saca a otro clavo.

Juan forgot María very quickly.
—Of course, because he met Erika. She made him forget her.

Spanish Idioms About Life

6. Ahogarse en un vaso de agua

Literal meaning: to drown yourself in a glass of water.

Actual meaning: to make a problem bigger than it is.

Example:

Conjugar verbos en español es muy fácil; no te ahogues en un vaso de agua.
It’s easy to conjugate Spanish verbs, don’t make it a big deal.

7. Ver todo color de rosa

Literal meaning: to see everything in pink color.

Actual meaning: to be extremely positive and think that everything is alright.

Example:

Erika no se preocupa; ella lo ve todo color de rosa.
Erika doesn’t worry about anything; she’s very optimistic.

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (3)

8. Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente

Literal meaning: a shrimp that falls asleep, it’s taken away by the current.

Actual meaning: pay attention or the opportunities will pass you by.

Example:

¡No sabía que había examen!
—Lo siento mucho. Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

I didn’t know we had a test!
—I’m very sorry. You need to pay attention.

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9. Zapatero a tus zapatos

Literal meaning: shoemaker to your shoes.

Actual meaning: focus on doing what you are good at.

Example:

Tú eres buen portero; ¿para qué quieres jugar de delantero? Zapatero a tus zapatos.
You’re a great goalkeeper; why do you want to play forward? Focus on what you’re good at.

10. En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo

Literal meaning: in the house of the blacksmith, knife of wood.

Actual meaning: when you’re an expert in something, you don’t apply it to your own life.

Example:

Eres maestro de español y tus hijos no hablan español. En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
You’re a Spanish teacher and your kids don’t speak Spanish.

Funny Spanish Idioms

11. Te comió la lengua el gato

Literal meaning: the cat ate your tongue.

Actual meaning: usually said to kids when they’re very quiet and don’t want to talk.

Example:

¿No quieres hablar conmigo? ¿Te comió la lengua el gato?
Why don’t you want to talk with me? Cat got your tongue?

12. Tomar el pelo

Literal meaning: to grab by the hair.

Actual meaning: to trick or make fun of someone.

Example:

No te estoy tomando el pelo, de verdad hablo cuatro idiomas.
I’m not pulling your leg; I do speak four languages.

13. La curiosidad mató al gato

Literal meaning: curiosity killed the cat.

Actual meaning: don’t be curious about stuff that doesn’t concern you.

Example:

¿Ya son novios Juan y Martha?
—No sé, ni me importa. La curiosidad mató al gato.

Are Juan and Martha dating?
—I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s none of my business.

14. Dar gato por liebre

Literal meaning: to give a cat instead of a hare.

Actual meaning: to trick, to con, to cheat.

Example:

La pizza que ordené no se ve como en la foto del menú. ¡Me dieron gato por liebre!
The pizza I ordered doesn’t look like the one in the picture. They conned me!

15. No tener pelos en la lengua

Literal meaning: to not have hairs in the tongue.

Actual meaning: to say everything without any filter.

Example:

Miguel siempre dice lo que piensa; él no tiene pelos en la lengua.
Miguel always says what’s on his mind; he doesn’t keep anything for himself.

16. Estar hasta en la sopa

Literal meaning: to be even in the soup.

Actual meaning: when someone seems to be everywhere.

Example:

Estoy hastiado de Shakira; está hasta en la sopa.
I’m fed up with Shakira; she’s everywhere.

17. Estar como una cabra

Literal meaning: to be like a goat.

Actual meaning: when someone behaves in a weird or crazy way.

Example:

Jorge está como una cabra.
Jorge is acting out.

18. No tener ni pies ni cabeza

Literal meaning: to not have either feet or head.

Actual meaning: to make no sense.

Example:

Lo siento, pero tu ensayo no tiene ni pies ni cabeza.
I’m sorry, but your essay doesn’t make any sense.

19. Faltarle un tornillo

Literal meaning: to miss a screw.

Actual meaning: when someone is a bit crazy.

Example:

Parece que a María le falta un tornillo, ¿no crees?
It looks like María has lost a screw, don’t you think?

20. Ser uña y mugre

Literal meaning: to be like nails and dirt.

Actual meaning: when two people are too close and do everything together.

Example:

Juan y Mario son los mejores amigos. Son como uña y mugre.
Juan and Mario are best friends; they do everything together.

21. Consultar con la almohada

Literal meaning: to consult with the pillow.

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Actual meaning: to sleep on it.

Example:

¿Vas a inscribirte al curso de español?
—No estoy seguro, lo voy a consultar con la almohada.

Will you sign up for the Spanish course?
—I’m not sure, I’m going to sleep on it first.

Spanish Food Idioms

22. Pan comido

Literal meaning: eaten bread.

Actual meaning: when something is too easy.

Example:

Aprender español es pan comido.
Learning Spanish is easy peasy.

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (4)

23. A comer y a tomar que el mundo se va a acabar

Literal meaning: to eat and drink because the world is going to end.

Actual meaning: don’t worry and enjoy life now that you can.

Example:

¿No tienes que estudiar para tu examen de matemáticas?
—No te preocupes, a comer y a tomar que el mundo se va a acabar.

Don’t you have to study for your Maths test?
—Don’t worry, you only live once!

24. Donde comen dos, comen tres

Literal meaning: where two eat, three eat.

Actual meaning: there’s always enough food to share with someone else.

Example:

¿A tu mamá no le importa que venga a comer a tu casa?
—No te preocupes, donde comen dos, comen tres.

Is your mom okay with me coming for lunch?
—Sure! There is plenty of food for everyone.

25. No importar un rábano (o un pepino)

Literal meaning: to not give a radish or a cucumber.

Actual meaning: not caring at all about something.

Example:

Me importa un rábano si Erika ya tiene novio.
I couldn’t care less if Erika has a boyfriend or not.

26. Darle la vuelta a la tortilla

Literal meaning: to turn the tortilla around.

Actual meaning: to reverse events.

Example:

El Real Madrid le dio la vuelta a la tortilla y ganó el campeonato.
Real Madrid turned the tide and won the championship.

27. Tener mala leche

Literal meaning: to have bad milk.

Actual meaning: to be upset about something.

Example:

Tengo mala leche por haber reprobado el examen de matemáticas.
I’m upset about failing the Math test.

Spanish Weather Idioms

28. Llover a cántaros

Literal meaning: to rain to pitchers.

Actual meaning: it rains very hard.

Example:

Está lloviendo a cántaros por mi casa.
It’s raining cats and dogs by my house.

29. Hacer un frío que pela

Literal meaning: to be so cold that it peels.

Actual meaning: to be too cold.

Example:

Hoy hace un frío que pela.
It’s too cold today.

30. Caerse el cielo

Literal meaning: the sky is falling.

Actual meaning: when it’s raining too hard.

Example:

¡Se está cayendo el cielo!
It’s pouring!

31. Estarse asando

Literal meaning: to be cooking oneself on a grill.

Actual meaning: it’s too hot.

Example:

Ayer me estaba asando.
I was too hot yesterday.

32. Morirse de frío/calor

Literal meaning: to die from cold/heat.

Actual meaning: to be too cold/hot.

Example:

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¡Me muero de frío!
I’m freezing!

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (5)

Spanish Common Idioms

33. Estar entre la espada y la pared

Literal meaning: to be between the sword and the wall.

Actual meaning: having to choose between two bad options.

Example:

No sé qué hacer, estoy entre la espada y la pared.
I don’t know what to do, I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea.

34. Salirse con la suya

Literal meaning: to get away with it.

Actual meaning: to get your way.

Example:

Miguel siempre se sale con la suya.
Miguel always gets away with it.

35. Echarle leña al fuego

Literal meaning: to add wood to the fire.

Actual meaning: to make matters worse.

Example:

Déjalo así, ya no le eches más leña al fuego.
Just leave it like that; don’t make things worse.

36. Tener sangre azul

Literal meaning: to have blue blood.

Actual meaning: to belong to the nobility.

Example:

Martha piensa que tiene sangre azul.
Martha was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

37. Tirar la casa por la ventana

Literal meaning: to throw the house out the window.

Actual meaning: to spare no expense.

Example:

El papá de María tiró la casa por la ventana con esta boda.
María’s dad spared no expense on this wedding.

38. Estar en todo

Literal meaning: to be in everything.

Actual meaning: to be on top of everything.

Example:

Mi profesora de español está en todo.
My Spanish instructor is on top of everything.

39. Ser una gallina

Literal meaning: to be a hen.

Actual meaning: to be a coward.

Example:

No seas gallina, ni hace tanto frío.
Don’t be a chicken; it’s not even that cold.

40. Meter la pata

Literal meaning: to put your paw inside.

Actual meaning: to ruin something or to make a mistake.

Example:

Metí la pata en el examen de español.
I made a mistake in my Spanish test.

41. Arma de doble filo

Literal meaning: double-edged weapon.

Actual meaning: something that can be positive but also negative.

Example:

Ser el preferido de la maestra es un arma de doble filo. Saco buenas notas, pero siempre tengo que poner atención.
Being the teacher’s pet is a double-edged sword. I get good grades, but I have to pay attention the whole time.

Mexican Spanish Idioms

42. A falta de pan, tortillas

Literal meaning: in the absence of bread, tortillas.

Actual meaning: if you don’t have something, try something else.

Example:

No tengo bolígrafo, pero tengo un lápiz. ¿Te sirve?
—Está bien; a falta de pan, tortillas.

I don’t have a pen, but I have a pencil. Does it help?
—Yes, sure!

43. Ya salió el peine

Literal meaning: the comb came out.

Actual meaning: when the truth about something comes out.

Example:

¡Ya salió el peine! Fue Carlos quien olvidó cerrar la puerta.
Now we know who did it! It was Carlos who forgot to close the door.

44. Ponerle mucha crema a sus tacos

Literal meaning: to put too much cream on your tacos.

Actual meaning: when someone is too dramatic or thinks too much of themselves.

Example:

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María le pone mucha crema a sus tacos en sus proyectos.
María gets too dramatic with her projects.

45. Hacerse pato

Literal meaning: to make yourself a duck.

Actual meaning: to pretend that you don’t understand something.

Example:

No te hagas pato con la tarea de español.
Don’t forget to do the Spanish homework.

50 Spanish Idioms To Use in Your Everyday Conversations (6)

46. Sepa la bola

Literal meaning: to know the ball.

Actual meaning: having no idea.

Example:

¿Cuándo es el examen de español?
—Sepa la bola.

When is the Spanish test?
—I have no idea.

47. Hablar del rey de Roma

Literal meaning: to talk about the king of Rome.

Actual meaning: when someone appears exactly when you were talking about them.

Example:

Hablando del rey de Roma; ¡ahí está Carlos!
Look! It is exactly who we were talking about: Carlos.

48. De chile, mole y pozole

Literal meaning: of chili, mole, and pozole.

Actual meaning: when there’s a mix of everything.

Example:

¿De qué están hablando?
—De chile, mole y pozole.

What are you talking about?
—A bit of everything.

49. Dar el avión

Literal meaning: to give the airplane.

Actual meaning: to pretend that you care about what someone is saying.

Example:

Hazme caso Miguel, no me des el avión.
Listen to me Miguel, not just pretend that you do.

50. Echar un ojo

Literal meaning: to throw an eye.

Actual meaning: to look at something.

Example:

¿Le puedes echar un ojo a mi proyecto antes de que lo entregue?
Can you take a look at my project before I turn it in?

Practice Your Spanish Idioms!

Now that you have learned them, it’s time to practice your Spanish idioms using them in everyday conversations. Mastering these idioms will make your next trip to a Spanish-speaking country easier, as you’ll be able to understand the most colorful expressions of the locals.

Sign up for a free class with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. They teach more than 24,000 actively enrolled students every month and have been doing it for over 10 years!

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Luis F. Dominguez

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

Luis F. Domínguez is a freelance writer and independent journalist interested in travel, languages, art, books, history, philosophy, politics and sports. He has written for Fodor’s, Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated, Telemundo, and Villa Experience, among other brands of print and digital media in Europe and North America.

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