What exactly is an idiom?
You encounter them daily, but you might be wondering about their essence. Idioms are phrases or fixed expressions employed to convey a figurative rather than a literal meaning. The English language boasts an excess of 25,000 idiomatic expressions, and this count continually expands as languages evolve.
Why delve into the realm of Spanish idioms?
The Spanish language abounds in idiomatic expressions. While some possess direct counterparts in other languages, others defy translation almost entirely. In certain instances, context aids in inferring the meanings of these Spanish phrases upon hearing them. Yet, in many cases, comprehending them proves elusive if one hasn’t encountered them before, even for those who possess a high proficiency in Spanish.
A majority of idioms are intrinsically tied to the specific country or region of origin. Given Spanish’s widespread usage, the reservoir of idioms is vast. The idiomatic expressions used by Spanish speakers from Spain differ from those favoured by individuals in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, or Venezuela.
Enclosed herein are 40 Spanish idioms characteristic of Spain (albeit some are internationally recognized). These have been categorized into four distinct groups, complete with a direct translation, their intended meaning, and their corresponding English equivalent.
10 ANDALUCIAN IDIOMS
Absolutely, here’s a list of 10 Andalusian idiomatic expressions, along with their English translations and meanings:
- Idiom: “Estar más perdido que un pulpo en un garaje” Translation: “To be more lost than an octopus in a garage” Meaning: Being completely clueless or out of one’s element.
- Idiom: “Más agarrado que un chotis en un columpio” Translation: “Tighter than a sardine on a swing” Meaning: Being extremely frugal or stingy with money.
- Idiom: “Tener más morro que espalda” Translation: “To have more snout than back” Meaning: Being shameless or audacious.
- Idiom: “No dar ni chapa” Translation: “Not giving a sheet” Meaning: Not being interested or not caring about something.
- Idiom: “Estar en las nubes” Translation: “To be in the clouds” Meaning: Being lost in daydreams or not paying attention.
- Idiom: “A buenas horas mangas verdes” Translation: “Green sleeves at a good time” Meaning: Something has happened too late or someone has finally realized something obvious.
- Idiom: “Matar el gusanillo” Translation: “To kill the worm” Meaning: Having a small snack or meal to temporarily satisfy hunger.
- Idiom: “Más vale maña que fuerza” Translation: “Skill is better than strength” Meaning: Intelligence and cleverness are more valuable than physical strength.
- Idiom: “Salir el tiro por la culata” Translation: “The shot goes out the backside” Meaning: A plan or action doesn’t go as intended and has the opposite effect.
- Idiom: “A otro perro con ese hueso” Translation: “To another dog with that bone” Meaning: Expressing disbelief or scepticism, similar to “pull the other one” in English.
What’s your favourite idiom?
When I first moved to Spain, some 22-plus years ago, with my limited Spanish, I tried to explain some English idioms to my neighbour.
¿El Papa es Católico? (Is the Pope a Catholic?) met with “Si, Claro!” (Yes, of course?) and “¿Mi cara está roja?” (Is my face Red?) was even less successful as he recommended a stronger sun cream. I gave up there and then and I decided to learn some of the local lingo.
I’ll leave this one with you to work out; ¿Los Osos cagen en el Bosque? he said scratching his head. “¿Dónde más cagaría un oso?”
Remember that idioms are culturally nuanced, and their translations might not always capture the full essence of the expression. Keep your ears open for any Nerja idioms (they might be referring to you!)