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Cultural Digest

30 Essential Spanish Idioms Explained

Want to sound like a native Spanish speaker? Learn these common Spanish idioms and expressions to sound like a native speaker.

Spanish idioms
  1. Echar una mano - To lend a hand. To help someone out.

  2. Costar un ojo de la cara - To cost an arm and a leg. To be very expensive.

  3. A lo hecho, pecho - What's done is done. No use crying over spilt milk.

  4. Andar con pies de plomo - To tread carefully. To walk on eggshells.

  5. A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín - What goes around comes around.

  6. Darse cuenta - To realize. To become aware of something.

  7. Dar el brazo a torcer - To give in, to admit defeat.

  8. Echar leña al fuego - To add fuel to the fire. To make a situation worse.

  9. En un abrir y cerrar de ojos - In the blink of an eye. Very quickly.

  10. Ir con pies de plomo - To tread carefully. To be cautious.

  11. Llover a cántaros - To rain cats and dogs. To rain very heavily.

  12. Meter la pata - To put your foot in your mouth. To say something inappropriate.

  13. No tener pelos en la lengua - To not mince words. To speak bluntly.

  14. Partirse de risa - To split your sides laughing. To laugh uncontrollably.

  15. Quedarse con la boca abierta - To be left open-mouthed. To be very surprised.

  16. Sacar las castañas del fuego - To pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire. To help someone out of trouble.

  17. Ser pan comido - To be a piece of cake. To be very easy.

  18. Tirar la casa por la ventana - To spare no expense. To go all out.

  19. Tomar el pelo - To pull someone's leg. To tease someone.

  20. Volver loco - To drive someone crazy. To annoy someone intensely.

  21. Llover sobre mojado - It never rains but it pours. When things go from bad to worse.

  22. No tener ni pies ni cabeza - To not make head nor tail of something. To be nonsense.

  23. Costar un riñón - To cost a fortune. To be very expensive.

  24. Irse por las ramas - To go off on a tangent. To stray from the main topic.

  25. Hablar por los codos - To chatter nonstop. To talk excessively.

  26. Dar en el clavo - To be assertive. (English Counterpart: To be spot on)

  27. Entre la espada y la pared - Having to choose between two bad things. (English Counterpart: Rock and a hard place)

  28. Matar dos pájaros de un tiro - To get two things done at once. (English Counterpart: To hit two birds with one stone)

  29. Ser uña y carne - To be very close to someone. (English Counterpart: To be thick as thieves)

Spanish Idioms With Colors

  1. De punta en blanco - Well dressed for a special occasion. (English Counterpart: Dressed to the nines, dressed to kill)

  2. Dar en el blanco - To be right, to be assertive. (English Counterpart: To hit the bullseye)

  3. Ver todo color de rosa - To be or see everything with excessive optimism. (English Counterpart: To see through rose-colored glasses)

Spanish Idioms with Animals

  1. Tener vista de lince - To have an excellent vision. (English Counterpart: To have an eagle eye)

  2. Tener memoria de pez - To have a bad memory. (English Counterpart: To have a memory of a sieve)

  3. Ser la oveja negra - To be good for nothing. (English Counterpart: To be the black sheep)

Spanish Idioms with Food and Drinks

  1. Ser del año de la pera - To be very very old. (English Counterpart: To be from another era)

  2. Dar la vuelta a la tortilla - To turn the situation around. (English Counterpart: To turn the tables)

  3. No importar un pepino/rábano - To be irrelevant. (English Counterpart: Do not care, couldn’t care less)

Spanish Idioms with Body Parts

  1. Con la soga al cuello - To be in a situation with a lot of pressure. (English Counterpart: To be in trouble, or up to one’s neck)

  2. Sin pelos en la lengua - To be straightforward, to be completely honest. (English Counterpart: To not mince your words)

  3. Buscar la quinta pata al gato - To make something way more complicated than it is. (English Counterpart: To take the scenic route)

Spanish Idioms in Anki

Have you ever come across a Spanish sentence in which you understood every word in the sentence, but still could not understand the sentence itself? That sentence probably used an idiom: a phrase or a fixed expression that has meaning that is different from the literal meaning.

This deck is a collection of 782 Spanish idioms, taken from Keniston's "Spanish idiom list". The complete book is public domain and you can read it for free at This deck contains all of the idioms in Part A of the book.

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