The BIG list of Spanish Idioms (100+)

We’ve tweeted and posted a lot of Spanish idioms, but now they’re all here! We’ll keep updating them for you in our BIG list of Spanish idioms and expressions.  We’ve included a literal translation when appropriate and additional links will bring you to posts that give examples of these expressions in use.

Spanish English (Literal) English (Translation) Detail (links)
Subirse al carro To get in the car To jump on the bandwagon
Esta ronda la pago yo This round I pay This round’s on me
Lo importante es participar The important thing is to participate
Dar a alguien su merecido
Ni más ni menos Neither more, neither less No more, no less
Unas veces se gana, otras se pierde Some times one wins, others one looses You win some you loose some
Luchar por una causa perdida To fight for a lost cause
Tirar la toalla To throw in the towel
No hay peor sordo que el que no quiere oír There is no worse deafness than he who doesn’t want to hear No one’s as deaf as those who don’t want to listen
Te invito I invite you My treat
Cuando se cierra una puerta, se abre una ventana When a door closes, a window opens Where one door closes, another one open
Cada una tiene lo que se merece Each one has that which their value People get what they deserve
La curiosidad mató al gato Curiosity killed the cat
Tener enchufe To have a plug To be well connected
No muerdas la mano que te da de comer Don’t bite the hand that gives you to eat Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo In the house of a blacksmith, knife of stick The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot
Más vale lo malo conocido que lo bueno por conocer Better the known bad than the good to know it Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t
Cuando el gato no está, los ratones bailan When the cat is not (here), the mice dance When the cat is away, the mice will play
Ser un bicho raro To be a strange creature To be a freak/weirdo
Estar en el quinto pino To be in the 5th pine (tree) To be in the boonies
Estar forrado To be covered To be loaded (rich)
Estirar la pata To stretch the leg To kick the bucket
De tal palo, tal astilla As such (the) stick, such (the splinter) Like father, like son / The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Matar dos pájaros de un tiro To kill two birds of one throw/shot To kill two birds with one stone
Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente Eyes than don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over
No es oro todo lo que reluce All that glitters is not gold
Ser un don nadie To be a Mr. nobody To be a nobody
Las penas compartidas saben a menos Shared pains/penalties know less Two in distress makes sorry less
Salir del armario To come out of the closet (to be gay)
Es la gota que colma el vaso Is the drop that fills the glass It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back
Sobre gustos no hay nada escrito About tastes, there is nothing written There’s no accounting for tastes
Estar como unas castañuelas To be like a pair of castanets (spanish hand instrument) To be happy as a clam
Las apariencias engañan Appearances deceive Looks can be deceiving
En la variedad está el gusto In the variety is the like Variety is the spice of life
Ser un pez gordo To be a fat fish To be a big fish
Más vale maña que fuerza Better skill than strength Brain over brawn
Al pan,pan … y al vino, vino The bread, bread; and the wine, wine To call a spade a spade
Hoy por tí, Mañana por mí Today for you, tomorrow for me You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours
Quien no arriesga, no gana Who doesn’t risk, doesn’t win Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Perro ladrador, poco mordedor Barking dog, little biter Barking dogs never bite
Más vale prevenir que curar Better to prevent than to cure
Hacer el mono To do the monkey To be the clown
No hay mal que por bien no venga There isn’t bad because good it didn’t come Every cloud has a silver lining
Todos los caminos llevan a roma All (the) roads lead to Rome
Tener mala leche To have bad milk To be a bad apple food
Romper el hielo To break the ice
Dios los cría y ellos se juntan God raises them and they come together Birds of a feather flock together
Más vale tarde que nunca Better late than never
Ser la media naranja To be the half orange To be the better half
Meter la pata To put the foot (in it) Screw up
Ser un chaquetero To be a turncoat To be a flip-flopper
A buen entendedor pocas palabras bastan To (be a) good listener few words are sufficient A word to the wise (is enough)
Quien fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla (He) Who went to Sevilla, lost his seat You snooze, you loose
Pillarse un pedo To pinch a fart To get drunk
Estar como una cabra To be like a goat To be crazy
Ser pan comido To be eaten bread Easy as pie food
Por si las moscas For if the flies Just in case
Hacer la pelota To do the ball To suck up
Arrimar el hombro Lend/Pull up a shoulder Give a hand
Ser un cero a la izquierda To be a zero on the left To be worthless numbers
Costar un ojo de la cara To cost and eye from the face To cost an arm and a leg numbers
Cada dos por tres Every two times three To happen frequently numbers
Buscarle tres pies al gato To look for three feet on the cat To make something more complicated than necessary numbers
Ser cuatro gatos To be four cats To be very few people numbers
Estar en el quinto pino To be in the fifth pine To be in the boonies numbers
Entrar los siete males To enter the seven evils To be in hell numbers
Más chulo que un ocho More cool than an eight To be too cool numbers
Meterse en camisas de once varas To get into a shirt of 11 sticks (pieces of cloth) To make a mountain out of a mole hill numbers
Seguir en sus trece To follow your thirteen To be headstrong or stubborn numbers
Ser un chorizo To be a chorizo (sausage) To be a thief food
Ser el año de la pera To be the year of the pear To be out of fashion food
Ser carne de cañón To be meat from the cannon To be fish bate/thrown under the bus food
Estar mala uva To be bad grapes To be grumpy, in a bad mood food
Estar como un fideo To be like a noodle To be thin as a rail food
Estar como una sopa To be like soup To be soaked to the bone food
Importar un pimiento To matter a pepper Doesn’t matter / don’t give a crap food
¡Ostras! Oysters! Holy moley! food
Estar hasta las narices To be up to the noses To be fed up body
Hacerse la boca agua  To make ones mouth water  body
Estar con el agua al cuello  To be with water to the neck  To be up to your neck / underwater  body
Echar una mano a alguien  To throw a hand to someone  To lend a hand  body
Meterse hasta la cabeza en algo  To be in up to ones head in something  To be fully involved/completely immersed  body
No dar pie con bola  To not give a foot with a ball/To not be on the ball Can’t do anything right  body
Poner el mal tiempo, buena cara  To put to bad weather, a good face  To put on a happy face / look at the bright side  body
Hablar por los codos  To talk through your elbows  To talk a lot  body
Levantarse con mal pie  To wake up with the wrong foot  To wake up on the wrong side of the bed  body
No pegar ojo  To not paste an eye  To not sleep a wink  body
Estar loco con contento  To be crazy with happiness  To be over the moon
Perro flaco, todo son pulgas  Skinny dog, covered in fleas  It never rains but it pours/when it rains, it pours
Fue bonito mientras duró  It was good while it lasted
Cada loco con su tema  Each crazy with his theme  To each his own
Quien ríe el último, ríe mejor  He who laughs last, laughs best
Esto es cosa de dos  This is a thing of two  It takes two to tango
Ser un caracol  To be a snail  To be very slow
Esto es cosa de dos  This is a thing of two  It takes two to tango
Donde comen dos, comen tres  Where two eat, three eat  There’s always room for one more
No por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano  Not by getting up very early, it dawns earlier  Getting up early doesn’t make the sun rise sooner
¡De ninguna manera!  Of no way!  No way!
Irse por las ramas  To go by the bushes  To beat around the bush
Así es la vida  Thus is life  That’s life
No buscarle pulgas al perro  Don’t look for flees on the dog  Let sleeping dogs lie
Hacer borrón y cuenta nueva  Do the big erase and new account  Wipe the slate clean
Ahogar las penas  To drown the miseries  To drown ones sorrows
Todo a su debido tiempo  All in its due time  All in good time
Estar frito  To be fried  To be sleeping
Ligarse a alguien  To link to someone  To hook up/ pick up someone
Cuenta conmigo  Count with me  Count me in
Dar en el clavo  To give (hit) in the nail Hit the nail on the head
Ya estamos otra vez  already we are again  Here we go again
Hacer puente  Do the bridge  Take a long holiday weekend
Dar alguien con la puerta en las narices  To give someone with the door in the noses  To slam the door in someone’s face
Mala hierba nunca muere  Bad grass never dies  The bad ones never die
Spanish idioms 1-25

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Showing 5 comments
  • Zusan

    I am looking for the English translation for “ lo poquito encanta y lo mucho enfada”.

    • Ana Gonzalez

      I’d say “less is more” or “too much of a good thing”

    • susana kayser

      Como dirían:
      No tenemos arreglo

  • Raquel

    The very little enchanted (happy or pleased here) and the very angry.
    I Guess It depends on the context but looks just like somebody is angry, not happy

  • Raquel

    Sorry, I read It wrong.
    It litteraly means “the little enchantes (pleases, likes very much) and the much angers”
    It just means a little is better than too much

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