To be healthier than a pear: Funny Spanish idioms
This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 25th March 2011 and has been read 43776 times.
Could you really ask an elm tree for pears? Not really. An expression used for those who ask for the impossible.
e.g. Querer que Salvador llegue a tiempo es pedir peras al olmo.
Wanting Salvador to be on time is asking for the impossible.
Arrimar el ascua a su sardina - ‘To put the coals close to your own sardine’
A fishy way (couldn’t help ourselves) of describing someone who is selfish. If you’re gathered round a fire and you’re putting your food on top of the coals, yours will cook first. Someone who looks after numero uno.
e.g. Es de los que siempre intenta arrimar el ascua a su sardina.
He’s one of those people who always tries to look after number one.
Hacer de tripas corazón - ‘To make a heart out of your guts’
Though not the most romantic of sayings, this saying means to pluck up the courage to do something; the heart is often seen as a mark of valiance and courage.
e.g. Hicé de tripas corazón y le pedí perdón.
I plucked up the courage and apologized to her.
Hay moros en la costa - ‘There are Moors on the coast’
With the majority of the Spanish coast facing North Africa, it was commonplace for the Moorish pirates to raid Spanish ports in the 13th century. This idiom is now used to express caution, if an authoritative figure is around.
e.g. Esconde el dinero que hay moros en la costa.
Watch out! Somebody’s coming. Hide the money.
Mentar la soga en casa del ahorcado - ‘To mention the rope in the house of a hanged man’
Essentially, this proverb means to put your foot in it. It was famously used by Cervantes’ most famous character, Don Quijote.
e.g. No vayas a mentar la soga en casa del ahorcado hablandole de su ex.
Don’t put your foot in it by mentioning her ex.
Estar en la edad del pavo - ‘To be at the age of the turkey’
For some reason, turkeys go through a difficult age, according to the Spanish. We hadn’t really noticed either, but there you go.
e.g. No te preocupes mucho por él, está en la edad del pavo.
Don’t worry too much about him, he’s at that difficult age.
Disfrutar como un enano - ‘To enjoy yourself like a dwarf’
Dwarves led a privileged life back in the 17th century, entertaining royal children and having a jolly good time doing so.
e.g. José disfrutó como un enano en la playa.
José had a brilliant time at the beach.
No saber ni jota de algo - ‘Not to know even the letter j about something’
Another similar expression in Spanish is to ‘no saber ni papa de algo’ (‘not to know even a potato about something’), meaning to not have a clue. Some suggest this expression stems from a common Spanish swear word, starting with the letter ‘j’. The potato expression could be in reference to the national dish, Spanish tortilla.
e.g. No sabe ni jota de Inglés.
He doesn’t know the first thing about English.
Find these sayings and more in Collins Easy Learning Spanish Idioms.