Skip directly to content

Idioms

Idioms are other ways to express an idea following expressions unique to a language and that have no literal translation into another language. 

Common Spanish idioms are:

Spanish

English

Modismos:

Colloquialisms (idioms)

Hacer caso To ignore

Por si acaso

Just in case

Llevamos dinero por si acaso tenemos un problema.

We carry money just in case we have a problem.

Quiere decir

To mean

¿Qué quiere decir parrandear?

What does to dance in a party mean?

Valer la pena

To be worth the trouble

Vale la pena viajar a Guatemala.

It is worth the trouble to travel to Guatemala.

Echar de menos

To miss a person or the familiar

Echo de menos mi alfombra.

I miss my carpet.

No cabe duda

There is no doubt

No cabe duda que hoy va a llover.

There is no doubt that today it is going to rain.

Tocarle a uno

To be one's turn

Me toca a mí lavar los platos.

It's my turn to wash the dishes.

Ponerse de acuerdo

To come to an agreement

Nos pondremos de acuerdo y viajaremos a Tikal. 

We will come to an agreement and will travel to Tikal.

Ni siquiera

Not even

No me dijo nada ni siquiera que vendría. 

He didn’t tell me anything not even that he would come.

En un dos por tres

In a jiffy

Terminaremos la tarea en un dos por tres.

We will finish the homework in a jiffy.

Tomarle el pelo a uno

To pull one's leg

¡No me tomes el pelo! El chico no salió de la escuela durante la clase.

Don't pull my leg!  The boy did not leave school during class.

Volver en si

To come to

Cuando volvió en si, supo que había habido un accidente.

When I came to, I thought there had been an accident.

¡Qué barbaridad!

How awful!

Hace mucho calor aquí. ¡Qué barbaridad!

It's hot here.  How awful!

Pasar lista

To call roll

Cuando la maestra pasó lista, supo que no estabas.

When the teacher called roll, she knew you weren't there.

Quedarse de pie

To remain standing

En el banco me quedé de pie porque no había donde sentarse.

In the bank, I remained standing because there wasn't a place to sit.

Hacer caso de

To take notice of

Por no hacer caso de ir despacio tuvieron un accidente. 

Due to not paying attention to going slowly, they had an accident.

A la larga

In the end, in the long run

A la larga es mejor invertir en inmuebles.

In the long run it is better to invest in real estate.

Al por mayor

Wholesale

Si lo compramos al por mayor sale más barato.

If we buy it wholesale, it will be cheaper.

Darle a uno ganas de

To make one feel

De vez en cuando le dan ganas de bailar  salsa.

Sometimes it makes them feel like dancing salsa.

Desempeñar un papel

To play a part

Desempeña el papel de víctima.

She played the part of the victim.

Tener que ver con

To have to do with

El libro no tiene nada que ver con el tema.

The book has nothing to do with the theme.

A escondidas

On the sly

A decir verdad

To tell you the truth

A primera vista

At first glance

Agarrar con las manos en la masa

To catch someone red-handed

Andar con rodeos

To beat around the bush

Andar de boca en boca

To be on everyone's lips, to be generally known

Caérsele la baba por

To be wild about, to love someone

Correr el rumor

To be rumored

Cuando más

When more

Dar gato por liebre

To pull the wool over someone's eyes

Dar mala espina

To arouse one's suspicions

De tal palo tal astilla

Like father like son, a chip off the old block

El hábito no hace al monje

You can't judge a book by its cover

En menos que canta un gallo

In a flash, in the blink of an eye

Haber gato encerrado

There's something fishy, more than meets the eye

Pasarse de la raya

To overstep one's bounds, to go too far

Poner al corriente

To bring up-to-date, to give the low down

Poner el grito al cielo

To hit the ceiling

Quedarse mudo

To be speechless

Ser todo oídos

To be all ears

Tragar el anzuelo

To swallow it hook, line and sinker

Y por si fuera poco

And if that wasn't enough, to top it off

Ahogarse en un vaso de agua

To make a mountain out of a molehill

Estar de moda

To be fashionable

Faltar un tornillo

To have a screw loose

Hablar hasta por los codos

To speak non-stop

A mil por hora

A mile a minute

Hablar como loco

To talk too much

Hacer acto de presencia

To make an appearance, to show up

Hacerse agua a la boca

To make one's mouth water

Las malas lenguas

Gossip

Seguir la corriente

To humor someone, to go along with

Ser muy ligero de palabra

To be a blabbermouth

No entender ni papa

To not understand a thing

No poder ver a alguien ni en pintura

Not to be able to stand someone

Para chuparse los dedos

Finger-lickin' good

Poner en ridículo

To make a fool out of someone

Tener algo en la punta de la lengua

To be on the tip of one's tongue

Tener fama de

To have a reputation for