Untranslatable Spanish idioms

Expressions that you shouldn't dare use in English

Languages come with rules and these rules should not be broken. This applies particularly for all these absurd and yet completely normalised idioms and expressions with blurry origins, which only reflect - in my opinion at least - the ludicrous thought processes that our ancestors underwent to express themselves. Why else would British people say that Bob's your uncle"when they want to assure you that everything is alright? Or that they are going to "chew the fat"when they have a gossip sesh with the neighbours? Why would French people literally claim that they have"other cats to whip"when they want to let you know that they have other affairs to attend to? And why would Germans say that they are "neck over head" to explain that they are in a mad hurry?

All being specific to a particular language, these idioms have no place whatsoever in any other language. Whatsoever. Simply because if you attempt to translate them, you will sound stupid. Here is a list of the most bizarre, senseless, illogical and just generally priceless Spanish idioms that you should learn how to use. And which should never belong to any other language than that of Cervantes's.

  • "Me cago en la leche": literally referring to the glorious action of defecating into milk, this expression is to be used when you are feeling vexed, displeased, distressed by a particular situation. The non-classy version of "damn", really.
  • "Maldición gitana para ti": a gypsy's curse for you, or basically "screw you". To be used against someone that has offended you.
  • "Dar palos de ciego": to hit out like a blind person, meaning that you are doing or saying something that you have no clue about. Say, if you are trying to seduce someone by throwing "mad" dance moves in Kapital. Then you are definitely hitting out like a blind person.
  • "Esto es de cajón": this is from a drawer. It is very evident. Because everything that comes from a drawer is evident. Isn't this from a drawer? Are you confused yet or what?
  • "¿Quién te ha dado vela en este entierro?": who has given you the candle in this funeral? Why are you speaking? Who wants your opinion? What are you doing here? When you don't even have a candle???
  • "Apaga y vámonos": switch off the light and let's go. This is nasty a catch. If someone tells you this, you're not supposed to switch off the light and go. It just means that you're done with whatever you were talking about and you can move on to another subject.
  • "Me lo ha contado un pajarito": a little bird told me it. You can use this when you know some gossip and you don't want to snitch on your source.
  • "¡A buenas horas mangas verdes!": to good timing, green sleeves! Yes, this does not make any sense at all. At all. It means "it's about time". It can be used if someone is late for a meeting, or if something happens a lot later than originally planned. Try telling it to your 15 minute late teacher.
  • "Estaba huevo": meaning that something was very easy. It was egg, mate.
  • "Quien se fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla": who went to Sevilla lost their seat. This is what you will get told of you leave the seat you shotgunned just for a few minutes and it's been taken when you come back. Not only is this mean to the apparently seatless people of Sevilla, it's also awfully annoying. Except if you're the one who says it to the guy who got up to check the line map on the overcrowded metro.
  • "A otro perro con ese muerto" go to another dog with this dead corpse. This is a bit grim, but it honestly just means that you don't trust someone's story. So you send them and their metaphorical dead corpse (aka their lies, obviously) to someone else.
  • "Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda": no matter how much silk the monkey puts on, she remains a monkey. It doesn't matter how much you try to cover things up, if your situation is ugly, it will remain ugly. No matter how much you try and put on a Spanish accent during your oral examination next year, if you are bad, you will stay bad. There's no escaping.
  • "Tener el mono": to have the monkey. Going on with the monkey imagery, this one actually means that you are really addicted to something (in some cases, someone. That special someone that gives you butterflies in your tummy).
  • "Él corría como alma que lleva el diablo": He was running like a devil-possessed soul. The verb "correr" can actually be replaced with any other action, with the expression basically meaning that you are doing something with great hurry. So for example, it could describe you when it is 10:30 am already and you see the G starting off from the Moncloa station.