An Aperitif of Expressions: The Spice of Spanish Idioms

Spanish, a language of rich history, culture, and vibrant linguistic expressions, is teeming with idioms, or as they're called in Spanish, modismos. Much like the country's world-renowned cuisine, Spanish idioms are full of flavor, enhancing the language and making it more expressive. Let's delve into a selection of popular Spanish idioms, their meanings, and examples.

"Estar en las nubes"

Meaning: Literally translated as "to be in the clouds," it means to daydream or have one's head in the clouds.


  • María siempre está en las nubes. No se da cuenta de lo que sucede a su alrededor. (Maria is always in the clouds. She doesn't notice what's happening around her.)

Notes: This idiom mirrors the English expression of "having your head in the clouds."

"No hay color"

Meaning: Directly translated as "there is no color," this idiom means that there's no comparison, with one thing being far superior to another.


  • Entre los dos restaurantes, no hay color. El segundo es mucho mejor. (Between the two restaurants, there's no comparison. The second one is much better.)

Notes: This phrase possibly originated from bullfighting, where a well-performed fight was said to "have color."

"Ser pan comido"

Meaning: Literally, "to be eaten bread," it means that something is very easy, akin to the English "piece of cake."


  • El examen fue pan comido. (The exam was a piece of cake.)

Notes: Just as bread is a fundamental food item in many cultures, it serves as an analogy for simplicity in this idiom.

"No tener pelos en la lengua"

Meaning: Translates to "not having hairs on one's tongue," it means to speak frankly, without holding back.


  • Marta no tiene pelos en la lengua. Siempre dice lo que piensa. (Marta doesn't mince words. She always says what she thinks.)

Notes: This vivid idiom portrays the image of someone who speaks smoothly, without obstacles or 'hairs.'

"Estar hecho un ají"

Meaning: Literally, "to be made into a chili pepper," it means to be very angry.


  • Juan estaba hecho un ají cuando perdió su móvil. (Juan was really angry when he lost his phone.)

Notes: The use of 'chili pepper' in this idiom symbolizes the heat of anger.

"Tener un humor de perros"

Meaning: Translates to "having a dog's mood," it means to be in a bad mood.


  • Ana tiene un humor de perros esta mañana. (Ana is in a bad mood this morning.)

Notes: Although dogs are generally considered cheerful, this phrase likely refers to a dog's grumpy side.

"Tomar el pelo"

Meaning: Directly translated as "to take the hair," it means to tease or trick someone, similar to "pulling someone's leg" in English.


  • ¡Deja de tomar el pelo! No me creo nada. (Stop pulling my leg! I don't believe anything.)

Notes: This idiom possibly comes from the ancient bullfighting tradition where a successful matador would cut the bull's tail and hair.

"Estar como una cabra"

Meaning: Literally, "to be like a goat," it means to act crazy or eccentric.


  • Mi tío está como una cabra. Siempre hace cosas extrañas. (My uncle is like a goat. He always does strange things.)

Notes: This idiom likely comes from the erratic behavior of mountain goats in Spain.

Questions and Answers:

Now, let's tackle some of the common questions regarding Spanish idioms:

Q: Why are Spanish idioms important to learn?

A: Just like in any language, idioms in Spanish express ideas and emotions that plain words often can't. They also provide cultural context, making communication more authentic.

Q: Are these idioms understood in all Spanish-speaking countries?

A: While some idioms are universal, others may vary or be unknown across different regions. As with all languages, regional variation is key.

Interesting Quotes:

"I can't diet. Spanish food is too good to give up." - Penelope Cruz. A delightful comment by the famous Spanish actress about the irresistible nature of Spanish cuisine, similar to the allure of Spanish idioms!

"I'd rather not have anything than be a liar." - Antonio Banderas. Much like the idiom "no tener pelos en la lengua," the renowned actor values honesty above all else.


Spanish idioms are a crucial part of this vibrant language, adding depth, color, and cultural richness. They serve as a delightful reminder that languages are not just about grammar and vocabulary, but about the people, their culture, and their unique way of expressing thoughts and emotions.

So whether you're a language enthusiast or planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, remember: learning Spanish is not just "pan comido," but an exciting journey of discovery. And always be ready for moments when you may "estar en las nubes" or "estar hecho un ají"! Happy learning!

related articles
Langly Inc. © 2024