Every language has words and phrases which sound pretty weird to non-native speakers. And of course, the Spanish language isn’t any exception to this rule. So today we will look at some pretty funny Spanish phrases. Granted it is sometimes hard to grasp the real meaning behind a certain expression, especially when you just started to learn Spanish. But I think these funny phrases make a language unique and add to its texture and richness. So let’s dive into the plethora of Spanish idioms and phrases which make us giggle. After all, having a laugh makes us all feel better and life much more enjoyable!
Table of Contents
- Funny Spanish Phrases about Love
- Funny Spanish Phrases about Life
- Funny Spanish Phrases about People
- Funny Spanish Phrases with Animals
Funny Spanish Phrases about Love
He encontrado mi media naranja
Literal translation: “I found my half orange.”
In English we speak of our “better half”. The Spanish take it a step further and refer to their significant other as “half an orange” (media naranja).
Echarse al agua
Literal translation: To get into the water
Once you have found your other half orange, you might decide to make things permanent i.e. to marry that special someone. Or as they put it in Spanish: echarse al agua.
Echar los perros a alguien
Literal translation: To throw the dogs at someone
To “throw the dogs at someone” means to flirt heavily, seduce someone or to declare your love. It can also be to persuade or start a sexual relationship.
Ser uña y mugre
Literal translation: Being nail and dirt
Maybe not your idea of a romantic expression, but when two people always stick together and you hardly see one of them alone, then the Spanish call that “ser uña y mugre”.
Funny Spanish Phrases about Life
Tener mala leche
Literal translation: Having bad milk
For centuries, milk has been an important part of many people’s diet, especially in rural areas. So, if your milk turned sour that was a rather unlucky event. And thats exactly what this phrase means. “tener mala leche” means you have bad luck.
Mejor malo conocido que bueno por conocer
Literal translation: Better the devil you know than the good you don’t know
This phrase means it’s better to deal with someone (or something) “evil” you are familiar with than to try your luck with someone new you don’t know at all. Someone new might be better, but you can’t be sure about it. So it’s better to stick to the one you know how to handle.
Sacar los trapos al sol
Literal translation: To take the rags out into the sun
This phrase means to blame someone for their faults or shortcomings in front of others. It’s the Spanish equivalent of “airing one’s dirty laundry in public.”
Éramos pocos y parió la abuela
Literal translation: There were only a few of us and then grandma gave birth
It’s a pretty weird expression used in situations where something bad happens and things go from bad to worse unexpectedly. In another sense, it is also used to indicate when there are many people in a place and more arrive unexpectedly.
Botar la casa por la ventana
Literal translation: To throw the house out of the window
The origin of this phrase, which translates into spending large amounts of money or effort on something, derives from the 18th century when the then King of Spain, Charles III, established the lottery in Spain. The few lucky winners were able to buy all new luxury items, so they could afford to metaphorically even throw their old house of the window.
A buenas horas, mangas verdes
Literal translation: At good hours, green sleeves
Another rather peculiar expression meaning “being too late”. It goes back to the middle ages when the “Santa Hermandad” was formed in Castile, making it one of the first organized police forces in Europe. Its members wore a uniform with green sleeves, so everybody could see immediately they were responsible to protect the crown and keep peace and order.
Of course they usually only showed up after a crime had happened, so they were seen by many as constantly being late. But despite this mockery by the public they proved to be very effective in their fight against crime.
Funny Spanish Phrases about People
Estar como un tren
Literal translation: to be like a train
Being compared to a train might not sound like a compliment to you. Well, with the possible exception of American football players. For them the image of a train steaming ahead would be rather flattering, I assume.
But in Spanish “being like a train” is an honest compliment to everyone. The phrase originates in the 18th century when the industrial revolution took off and powerful new machines like trains where considered spectacular and marvelous inventions.
Hasta en la sopa
Literal translation: to be in the soup
When you meet someone at several different locations during the day, you see him so often, he literally seems to show up even in your soup!
Creerse la última coca-cola del desierto
Literal translation: to think you’re the last Coke in the desert
It basically means that you think you are someone very special. In many countries “Coca-Cola” is used to describe all kinds of soft drinks, rather than the specific brand. So, if you find yourself in a hot and dry environment like a desert, wouldn’t be an ice cold drink something wonderful? And that’s just like some people see themselves. So this phrase describes someone who is arrogant or cocky.
Hablando del rey de roma
Literal translation: Speaking of the king of Rome
It means someone you’ve just been talking about suddenly shows up. It’s the Spanish equivalent of “speak of the devil!”
El que nada debe, nada teme
Literal translation: He who owes nothing, fears nothing
This phrase refers to someone who has a clear conscience. When someone accuses you of something bad you are not responsible for, you might use this phrase.
Meter la pata
Literal translation: Putting your leg into it
To “put your leg into it” means to say or do something silly. The Spanish version of “to put one’s foot in it.”
Estar feliz como una lombriz
Literal translation: To be happy as a worm
We don’t know whether worms are particularly happy chaps, but this term derives its comedy simply from the underlying rhyme. Similar to “snug like a bug in a rug.”
Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por sabio
Literal translation: The devil knows more by being old than by being wise
Although this expression mentions the devil, it’s actually means someone who knows how to handle things in the best possible way because he has a lot of experience in this field.
Literal translation: being peeled
When you have no money, you are bare, skint or “peeled” as the Spanish say.
Cría fama y échate a dormir
Literal translation: Raise your fame and go to sleep
This term means once you have built a certain reputation for yourself, it will last for a long time.
No ver tres en un burro
Literal translation: not seeing three on a donkey
Used when you accuse someone of missing something important or obvious. In English you might say, “as blind as a bat.”
Funny Spanish Phrases with Animals
Me pica el bagre
Literal translation: The catfish is biting me
When you’re really hungry it can feel as if your stomach is stinging. The Spanish have a rather picturesque description for this, saying the catfish is nibbling at your tummy. In English you might say you are “as hungry as a horse” or you “feel peckish” (British English). Either way, it is time to get that paella onto the table!
Es el mismo perro con diferente collar
Literal translation: It’s the same dog with a different collar.
It’s a rather pessimistic phrase meaning that things don’t change for the better even when the people in charge are different. So you can hear this phrase often when people are referring to elections. The people at the top might change, but the circumstances stay the same.
Estar todo el pescado vendido
Literal translation: All the fish has been sold.
This phrase means that something has happened and it’s too late now to change it. Like when you go to the market to buy some fish, but you’re too late and it’s already sold out.
Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda
Literal translation: Even if a monkey wears silk, s/he is still a monkey
It’s a bit like saying “You can take a man out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the man.” It means our social background shows through even when we try to hide it by dressing nicely and wearing expensive outfits.
So, this was the list of our favorite funny Spanish phrases. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know and we’ll gladly add it to the list!
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