10 Spanish expressions that are nonsensical when translated literally

Expressions are a rich and beautiful tradition for every language. It takes a real translator to adapt them to the desired target language.
These common Spanish expressions completely lose their meaning if you translate them literally into English.
Let’s have fun and learn some Spanish ūüėČ

1. Matar el gusanillo

Translated literally: To kill the worm

Meaning: To get a snack when you are bit hungry

2. Ser la alegría de la huerta

Translated literally: To be the joy of the vegetable garden

Meaning: To be happy, positive and enthusiastic. Someone who is fun to be around

3. Estar hecho un flan

Translated literally: To be like a flan

Meaning: To be nervous and scared

4. Hacerse el sueco

Translated literally: Pretending to be swedish

Meaning: Pretending you don’t know anything about a situation


5. Salir rana

Translated literally: To go frog

Meaning: When something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to go


6. La edad del pavo

Translated literally: The turkey age

Meaning: That adolescent age when teens rebel

7. Donde Cristo perdió el gorro

Translated literally: Where Christ lost his hat

Meaning: Very far

8. Cortar el bacalao

Translated literally: To cut the cod

Meaning: To have the power in a relationship

9. Hablar por los codos

Translated literally: To speak through your elbows

Meaning: To speak a lot

10. Ir de flor en flor

Translated literally: To go from one flower to another

Meaning: To be promiscuous


Bonus-Ponerse las botas

Translated literally: To put your boots on

Meaning: To eat a lot


Do you have any other expressions you would like us to post?
Let us know in the comment section! ūüėČ

10 Responses to “10 Spanish expressions that are nonsensical when translated literally

  • √Čstas hecho polbo ūüôā

  • Lilian Gredco
    2 years ago

    Las expresiones “Donde el diablo perdi√≥ el poncho¬® (una variaci√≥n de ¬®donde Cristo perdi√≥ el gorro¬®, ¬®Hablar hasta por los codos¬®, y ¬®tener la edad del pavo¬® con comunes en el espa√Īol del R√≠o de la Plata.

  • Rudolfo Carvajal
    2 years ago

    Hacer una vaca (to make a cow )..To gather some money between several persons for a common end… Un pichintun (chilean expressions). ( a small portion of something ) Al Tiro ( To the shot ) ….(meaning …right away , immediately )

  • Laura Fern√°ndez Calzada
    2 years ago

    Muchas gracias a todos por vuestros comentarios ūüôā

  • Genia! No conoc√≠a el de las botas.
    “Puya el burro” Literally translated would be “Jab the donkey”. It is an expression used in northern coastal cities in Colombia to mean “hurry up”. And, a personal favorite: “Hierba mala no muere” which translated literally would be “A bad weed does not die but I typically translate it as “Can’t kill a bad weed” Feliz D√≠a a todos.

  • P Diane Schneider
    2 years ago

    No tener pelos en la lengua (having no hairs on his tongue) meaning talks a lot

    • Gabriela
      2 years ago

      This is not exactly “talks a lot”. This means “Not to be scared of saying things that others may hide”

  • Angela Barnette
    2 years ago

    En mi pa√≠s cuando algo es muy lejos decimos: ‚Äú Donde el diablo perdio su poncho‚ÄĚ
    Angela from Bolivia

  • Gabriela
    2 years ago

    Hacerse el sueco is replaced by “hacerse el oso” in other countries

  • Estar muy lejos: En el quinto pino. Cuando alguien llega a destiempo en una situaci√≥n complicada en la que su ayuda hubiera sido necesaria: ¬°A buenas horas, mangas verdes! Hablar sin cortapisas, no importa lo brutal o grosera que pueda ser su exceso de sinceridad: No tener pelos en la lengua. Cuando alguien es verdaderamente raro o peculiar: Mas raro que un perro verde. Cuando alguien es desagradable o resentido: es de la c√°scara amarga.

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