With us entering into the holiday season (are you ready for delicious turkey and sweet pumpkin pie?? I sure am!!), I decided that from now until the end of the year we will focus on fun, less serious topics. After all, the end of the year is upon us. Let's have a little fun! :) In today's episode, we'll explore the Spanish-speaking world through 12 fun sayings!
Fun Sayings in Spanish!
Let's look at two phrases from each Spanish-speaking country we have focused on throughout the year: Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and Venezuela. Because this is a cultural experience in and of itself, we won't be having any Cultural Tips at the end of the blog. (And since the rest of the episodes are going to be similar in nature, we won't have any more Cultural Tips until next year!)
To waste saliva.
English equivalent: to waste your breath.
When to use it? When you're pretty sure talking about something won't help or change someone's mind. Ex: No gastas saliva hablando de política con ellos. Solo te enojará. Don't waste your breath talking politics with them. It'll only make you angry.
Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.
Things should be clear and the chocolate thick.
English equivalent: Cut to the chase. Just tell me what you want to say.
When to use it? When someone is rambling and won't get to the point. The chocolate part is referring to how Spaniards like their hot chocolate - nice and thick. (Side note - Spanish churros are typically plain, and it is common to eat them as a snack with hot chocolate. You dip them, which is delicious, and then can drink the hot chocolate as well. It tastes pretty good! It was something I really enjoyed having at un café in Seville. Check out these Spanish churro and hot chocolate recipes from Spanish Sabores. Full transparency, I haven't made these recipes, but they are on my to do list this Fall season! Also, I really love Spanish Sabores!)
Ex: ¡Anda ya! Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. Come on already! Just cut to the chase.
To have coconut.
English equivalent: to be a smart cookie.
When to use it? When someone is particularly clever or smart.
Ex: Mi hermano tiene coco. Se graduó con las mejores calificaciones. My brother is a smart cookie. He graduated valedictorian.
A darle que es mole de olla.
To give one that which is mole de olla.
English equivalent: The closest thing I can think of is my undergrad's school motto, which was Latin for Strength Rejoices in the Challenge. That got used a lot during finals week, lol!
When to use it? When you want to encourage someone to do something cheerfully, or to highlight that just because a task is hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.
Ex: Persona A, "No quiero hacer mi proyecto. ¡Es muy difícil!" Persona B, "Si, pero a darle que es mole de olla." Person A, "I don't want to do my project. It is very difficult!" Person B, "Yes, but strength rejoices in the challenge!"
(Side note: Mole do Olla is actually a type of soup. If you would like to see an example, here is a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Mexico in My Kitchen! I have never tried it, and it's a bit out of my budget for now, but hopefully someday!)
Mugre que no mata, engorda.
Dirt that doesn't kill you, makes you fat.
English equivalent: 5 second rule!
When to use it? When you drop something on the floor but eat it anyway.
Ex: Persona A, "¡Oh, no! ¡Se me cayó el chocolate!" Persona B, "Mugre que no mata, engorda." Person A, "Oh no! I dropped my chocolate!" Person B, "5 second rule!"
(Side note: I suppose you could also use the classic rhyme here: God made dirt, dirt don't hurt. If I die, God knows why. ;D)
Son como uña y mugre.
They are like fingernail and dirt.
English equivalent: They are like two peas in a pod.
When to use it? When you are talking about two people who are really close and who get along really well, perhaps are best friends, etc.
Ex: ¡Estas chicas son como uña y mugre! These two girls are like two peas in a pod!
Estar remando en dulce de leche.
To be rowing in dulce de leche. (Dulce de Leche is a caramel sauce that is milk-based and very popular in Spanish culture.)
English equivalent: Up the creek without a paddle. Or, as they would say in England, it's a sticky wicket! (I love that phrase!)
When to use it? When you find yourself in a tricky situation that is hard to resolve or get out of.
Ex: Compré dos boletos para el juego este sábado para mi amigo y yo, pero olvidé que le prometí a mi esposa que cuidaría a los niños para que pudiera visitar a su amiga enferma. ¡Estoy remando en dulce de leche! I bought two tickets to the game this Saturday for my friend and I, but I forgot that I promised my wife I'd watch the kids so she could visit her sick friend. I am up the creek without a paddle!
(Side note: Dulce de leche is extremely important in Argentinian culture. While I've never made it myself, here are two recipes I found online. One suggests three hours, and the other an hour and fifteen minutes. I have no idea which one will be better, but hopefully I can find out! I also found a recipe in Spanish that also gives you an easy hack for making it "quickly". I don't have any go-to food blogs for Argentinian cuisine, so if you know of one, please pass it along! :) Also, I found out that there is a World Dulce de Leche day, which is every October 11th! SWEET!)
Estar al horno (con papas)
To be in the oven (with chips)
English equivalent: To be toast. Or perhaps even to be eaten alive.
When to use it? When you are in some deep trouble, or hot water, and have to face the consequences. You can add con papas for emphasis. :)
Ex: Olvidé mi presentación de hoy. ¡Estoy al horno con papas! Mi jefe me va a matar. I forgot today's presentation. I'm toast! My boss is going to kill me.
Hacer una chancha.
To make a female pig.
English equivalent: To split the bill.
When to use it? Basically, whenever you and your friends are going to split the bill.
Ex: Amigo A, "¿Hacemos chancha?" Amigo B, "¡Sí!" Friend A, "Are we all splitting the bill?" Friend B, "Yes!" (I don't know how this one came to be, but it's pretty great!)
Ser un Coca-Cola
To be a Coca-Cola
English equivalent: to be cuckoo.
When to use it? When you want to say that someone is crazy.
Ex: Emilio es un Coca-Cola! Emilio is cuckoo! (He's crazy!)
(I also am confused on how this soda came to mean crazy, but it is fantastic!)
I know, I know, technically we haven't talked about Venezuela yet. But in 2022, it will be the first country we focus on for our Cultural Tips, so in the spirit of the holiday season, here are two extra sayings! :)
Te va a morder un peluche.
A teddy bear is going to bite you.
English equivalent: You're going to be struck by lightning. Kind of. But without the religious overtones.
When to use it? If someone is being clever to take advantage of a situation, you can warn them with this.
Ex: Luis, estás jugando un juego peligroso. ¡Te va a morder un peluche! Luis, you are playing a dangerous game. A teddy bear is going to bite you!
“¿Vas a seguir, Abigaíl?”
Are you going to keep going, Abigail?
English equivalent: Oh, do stop going on and on about it! Are you still going on about that?
When to use it? If someone is going on and on about something and you are tired of hearing it, you can simply say this phrase as a way to let them know you're done.
Ex: Persona A, "Me dijo mi hermana bla-bla-bla...." Persona B, "¿Vas a seguir, Abigaíl?" Person A, "My sister told me blah, blah, blah...." Person B, "Are you still going on about that?"
(Interesting side note: this phrase comes from a famous 80s telenovela called Abigaíl. While it was pretty popular, it kept going and going and eventually became monotonous and boring. Hence you now have the phrase, ¿Vas a seguir, Abigaíl?)
So there you have it: 12 fun, and a bit weird, Spanish phrases! What are some of your favorite phrases in Spanish? Tell me in the comments or send me a note! :)
Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.
¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!
© 2021 by Language Answers, LLC
Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr
"Popular Spanish Sayings" from DonQuijote.org
"30 Funny Spanish Phrases That Will Make Your Day!" from Paulina On the Road, published November 25, 2020, last updated June 9, 2021
Recipes from Spanish Sabores: "Easy Homemade Churros: Authentic Spanish Churros Recipe" by Lauren Aloise on September 7, 2012 by Lauren Aloise "Authentic Spanish Hot Chocolate Recipe" by David Pope on September 23, 2020
"Popular Mexican Spanish Expressions" by Na'atik Mexico on August 13, 2021
"14 Meaningful Mexican Proverbs for Life and Language Learning" by Anna Maria for FluentU
"Mole de Olla" by Mely Martínez for Mexico in My Kitchen, published January 25, 2016 and last updated August 22, 2019
"11 phrases only Venezuelans understand" by Karen Moreno for Matador Network, January 21, 2015
"95 Refranes y Dichos Venezolanos y su Significado" by Milena Wetto for Lifeder.com
"Significado de la expresión ¿Vas a seguir Abigaíl?" from Diccionario Venezolano
"20 Peruvian Slang Words That’ll Have You Living the Good Life in Lima" by Mose Hayward for FluentU
"Las 50 Frases y Palabras Peruanas Más Conocidas" by Alberto Cajal for Lifeder.com
"Top 10 Spanish Slang Phrases to Speak Like a True Argentine" by Rosie Hilder for FluentU
"Argentine Slang: 28 Spanish Words You’ll Hear From A Local" by Niall Quinn for BaseLang.com
"The Best Dulce de Leche in Argentina" by Rosemary for Authentic Food Quest.com, June 20, 2021
"Cómo hacer dulce de leche" by Alfonso López for RecetasDeRepuchete.com
"Dulce de Leche" by Jualonso on AllRecipes.com
"Colombia’s Favorite Sayings" by Colombia.co
"15 dichos colombianos que debes conocer" by Colombia.co
"15 dichos que siguen retumbando en los hogares de las familias colombianas" by Pulzo.com on January 17, 2018