25 Popular Spanish Idioms to Use Every Day like a Native Speaker

Idioms are a window into the heart and soul of a language! These Spanish idioms will give you a glimpse of what Spanish-speaking culture is about. And this culture is rich and colorful, full of clever expression. If you want to sound like a native, you can used these Spanish idioms add some spice and even more depth to your everyday communication.

Spring Spanish, a project I co-founded, made a great video about these Spanish sayings:

From expressing complex emotions to describing everyday situations: learn these idioms to make your Spanish better!

1. List of Spanish idioms about emotions and attitudes

1. Estar hecho un ají – To be very angry

Literal meaning: To be made a chili.
Actual meaning: To be very angry.

Example: Estoy hecho un ají porque perdí mis llaves. (I’m very angry because I lost my keys.)

2. Estar en las nubes – To be daydreaming

Literal meaning: To be in the clouds.
Actual meaning: To be daydreaming.

Example: Juan siempre está en las nubes durante las clases. (Juan is always daydreaming during classes.)

spanish idioms cloud daydreaming

3. Ponerse las pilas – To get moving

Literal meaning: To put in the batteries.
Actual meaning: To get moving/to buckle down.

Example: Si quieres aprobar el examen, tienes que ponerte las pilas. (If you want to pass the exam, you need to buckle down.)

4. Ver el vaso medio lleno – To be optimistic

Literal meaning: To see the glass half full.
Actual meaning: To be optimistic.

Example: Aunque perdimos, hay que ver el vaso medio lleno, aprendimos mucho. (Even though we lost, we need to look on the bright side, we learned a lot.)

5. Estar para el arrastre – To be very tired

Literal meaning: To be for dragging.
Actual meaning: To be very tired/exhausted.

Example: Después de trabajar todo el día, estoy para el arrastre. (After working all day, I’m exhausted.)

6. Tener un corazón de oro – To be generous

Literal meaning: To have a heart of gold.
Actual meaning: To be very kind and generous.

Example: Elena siempre ayuda a los demás, tiene un corazón de oro. (Elena always helps others, she has a heart of gold.)

7. Estar como una cabra – To be crazy

Literal meaning: To be like a goat.
Actual meaning: To be crazy or eccentric.

Example: Mi tío siempre hace bromas raras, está como una cabra. (My uncle always makes weird jokes, he’s crazy.)

2. Speak Spanish like a native with idioms about situations and actions

8. Tirar la casa por la ventana – To spend a lot of money

Literal meaning: Throw the house through the window.
Actual meaning: To spend a lot of money on something.

Example: Vamos a tirar la casa por la ventana para la boda de Ana. (We are going to spare no expense for Ana’s wedding.)

9. No hay moros en la costa – The coast is clear

Literal meaning: There are no Moors on the coast.
Actual meaning: The coast is clear.

Example: No hay moros en la costa, puedes venir. (The coast is clear, you can come.)

10. Dar en el clavo – To get it right

Literal meaning: To hit the nail.
Actual meaning: To hit the nail on the head / To get it right.

Example: Con tu consejo, diste en el clavo. (With your advice, you hit the nail on the head.)

11. Echar agua al mar – To do something pointless

Literal meaning: To throw water into the sea.
Actual meaning: To do something pointless.

Example: Decirle que sea prudente es como echar agua al mar. (Telling him to be careful is like throwing water into the sea.)

12. Buscarle tres pies al gato – To make things more complicated

Literal meaning: To look for three feet on the cat.
Actual meaning: To make things more complicated.

Example: No busques tres pies al gato, es más sencillo de lo que crees. (Don’t overcomplicate things, it’s simpler than you think.)

13. Meter la pata – To make a mistake

Literal meaning: To put the leg in.
Actual meaning: To make a blunder/mistake.

Example: Metí la pata al olvidar el aniversario de Sofía. (I screwed up by forgetting Sofia’s anniversary.)

14. Tomar el pelo – To tease

Literal meaning: To take the hair.
Actual meaning: To pull someone’s leg/to tease.

Example: ¡No te enojes, sólo te estaba tomando el pelo! (Don’t get mad, I was just pulling your leg!)

15. Ser pan comido – To be very easy

Literal meaning: To be eaten bread.
Actual meaning: To be very easy.

Example: Este examen va a ser pan comido. (This exam is going to be a piece of cake.)

16. Ser uña y carne – To be tight-knit

Literal meaning: To be nail and flesh.
Actual meaning: To be very close or tight-knit.

Example: María y Carla son uña y carne, siempre están juntas. (Maria and Carla are very close, they are always together.)

17. Llover a cántaros – To rain heavily

Literal meaning: To rain by the pitchers.
Actual meaning: To rain heavily.

Example: Está lloviendo a cántaros, mejor nos quedamos en casa. (It’s raining cats and dogs, we better stay home.)

spanish idioms heavy raining

18. Cruzar los dedos – To hope for good luck

Literal meaning: To cross the fingers.
Actual meaning: To hope for good luck.

Example: Cruzo los dedos para que me vaya bien en la entrevista. (I’m crossing my fingers that the interview goes well.)

19. Echar leña al fuego – To make a situation worse

Literal meaning: To add fuel to the fire.
Actual meaning: To make a situation worse.

Example: No hables de política, no eches más leña al fuego. (Don’t talk about politics, don’t add fuel to the fire.)

20. Ser el ojo derecho – To be someone’s favorite

Literal meaning: To be the right eye.
Actual meaning: To be someone’s favorite.

Example: Mi abuela siempre me da regalos, soy su ojo derecho. (My grandmother always gives me gifts, I’m her favorite.)

21. Matar dos pájaros de un tiro – To accomplish two things with a single action

Literal meaning: To kill two birds with one stone.
Actual meaning: To accomplish two things with a single action.

Example: Si vamos al supermercado ahora, matamos dos pájaros de un tiro y evitamos el tráfico más tarde. (If we go to the supermarket now, we’ll kill two birds with one stone and avoid traffic later.)

22. Quedarse de piedra – To be astonished

Literal meaning: To stay like a stone.
Actual meaning: To be astonished.

Example: Me quedé de piedra cuando vi el resultado del examen. (I was astonished when I saw the exam result.)

23. A otro perro con ese hueso – To not believe someone

Literal meaning: To another dog with that bone.
Actual meaning: I don’t believe you / Tell that to someone who’ll believe it.

Example: ¿Que no comiste el pastel? A otro perro con ese hueso. (You didn’t eat the cake? Tell that to someone who’ll believe it.)

3. Understand Spanish idioms used about physical state and health

24. Costar un ojo de la cara – To be very expensive

Literal meaning: To cost an eye from the face.
Actual meaning: To be very expensive.

Example: Este coche me costó un ojo de la cara. (This car cost me an arm and a leg.)

spanish idioms closed wallet

25. Estar más sano que una pera – To be very healthy

Literal meaning: To be healthier than a pear.
Actual meaning: To be very healthy.

Example: Después de esos cambios en su dieta, está más sano que una pera. (After those changes in his diet, he’s healthier than ever.)

Learn Spanish idioms with our Practice Worksheet

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words or phrases to complete the Spanish idioms.

Spanish idioms are a great way to sound more like a native but that’s not all! If you want to practice more Spanish, click the button below and get access to our Full Practice Worksheet Library!

Learn Spanish idioms with Conversation Based Chunking to speak like a native speaker

Do you know what’s really good about Spanish idioms? They are really good together with the Conversation Based Chunking method. And what is this method?

Well, it’s an approach that focuses on lexical chunks, natural building blocks of the language – like these Spanish sayings – that native speakers use. Together with idioms and the Conversation Based Chunking method, you immerse yourself in the language – this makes this method particularly effective.

If you sign up now, and adopt this method, you’ll get a weekly study program, an essential list of Spanish chunks, my favorite resources to learn Spanish and even access to our Full Practice Worksheet Library.

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