In this post: Make your speech more natural and engaging by learning some of the most commonly used idioms in Spanish.

Looking for a fun way to level up your Spanish? Learning some common Spanish idioms is a fantastic way to start speaking more like a native and liven up your conversations.

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It’s also a great way to avoid confusion in your daily conversations. If someone has ever said that you’re “like a goat” or that a rooster fell asleep on them, you’re in the right place—we’ll tell you what those funny sounding Spanish idioms mean.

Idioms are an important and fascinating part of learning any language. They really help you to go beyond basic vocabulary learning and dive deeper into the culture and nuances of the language.

At Llamitas Spanish®, we’re passionate about helping families to raise bilingual and biliterate children. All of our lessons are both academic and fun for your child! We provide phonics work and spelling and literacy development in each lesson.

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What are Spanish idioms?

An idiom is a phrase or saying with a figurative meaning that often doesn’t make literal sense or is grammatically unusual.

For example, an idiom often used in English is “raining cats and dogs.” Of course, this doesn’t mean cats and dogs are literally falling from the sky! While your preschooler might give you a funny look if you say this, most native English speakers are familiar with this saying and know that it means it’s raining a lot.

All languages have their own unique idioms. This means that if you tried to translate an English idiom into Spanish literally, like “It’s raining cats and dogs,” it would lose its meaning. Spanish speakers have an entirely different phrase for this: “Llueve a cántaros” or “Llueve a mares.”

Related post: Adivinanzas: Easy Spanish Riddles for Kids

5 Reasons You Need to Learn Spanish Idioms

Learning popular Spanish idioms is an integral part of learning the language and culture. Here are five reasons you need to learn Spanish idioms and include them in your Spanish lessons:

  1. Understanding native speakers and day-to-day conversation 

How often do you use idioms in your everyday conversations? The answer to that may be more than you realize, as some scholars estimate that there are over 10,000 idioms in the English language alone!

If you’re traveling to any Spanish-speaking countries, knowing some common Spanish expressions and idioms will help you to keep up with the locals. Keep in mind that some idioms can vary depending on the country.

  1. Understanding the culture and context of the language

Like language in general, idioms are often connected to the culture of the language you’re studying too. Some sayings may come from Spanish folktales and proverbs, which is why you can have different idioms in different Spanish-speaking countries.

  1. Speaking more like a native speaker

Learning common idioms in Spanish will help you to level-up your language and give you the opportunity to add some creative flair to your conversations. It’s a great way to make your use of speech more natural, engaging, and like that of a native speaker!

  1. Saying more with less

One of the reasons we use idioms in any language is because they’re often a really efficient use of language! Idioms are rich with meaning, and one of these short phrases will usually conjure up an image and provide details for your listener without you having to spell it all out for them.

  1. Avoiding mistranslations and social awkwardness

With figurative language, attempting to directly translate from English to Spanish (or translate from Spanish to English) will only lead to confusion for everyone. Knowing some of these sayings will help you avoid some embarrassing social situations and frustration.

Related post: Funny Animal Jokes in Spanish for Kids

>> Grab the full list of idioms in a FREE download in our Freebie Library.

30 Common Spanish Idioms

We’ve rounded up 30 of the most common idioms in Spanish examples here, along with literal translations, the meaning, and ideas for how to use them in a sentence.

Meter la pata

Literal Translation Put a leg or foot in it
Meaning Ruin something or make a mistake
Similar English Idiom Drop the ball
Example No quiero meter la pata.
I don’t want to mess up.

Llover a cántaros

Literal Translation Rain to pitchers
Meaning Rain heavily
Similar English Idiom Raining cats and dogs
Example Estuvo lloviendo a cántaros todo el día.
It was pouring rain all day.

Tomar el pelo

Literal Translation Take/pull your hair
Meaning To trick you into believing something (usually harmless)
Similar English Idiom Pull your leg
Example A: ¡Ganaste un viaje a la playa con todos los gastos pagados! B: ¿Me estás tomando el pelo?
A: You won an all paid trip to the beach! B: Are you serious?

Ser pan comido

Literal Translation To be eaten bread
Meaning Easy
Similar English Idiom A piece of cake
Example El examen es pan comido. 
The exam is very easy.

En un dos por tres

Literal Translation In a two by three
Meaning Very quickly
Similar English Idiom In no time
Example Lo hago en un dos por tres.
I’ll do it in no time.

Estar como unas castañuelas

Literal Translation To be like a pair of castanets
Meaning Very happy
Similar English Idiom Happy as a clam
Example Está como unas castañuelas. 
He’s happy as a clam.

Estar más sano que una pera

Literal Translation Healthier than a pear
Meaning Very healthy
Similar English Idiom Fit as a fiddle
Example Mi abuela tiene 70 años, pero está más sana que una pera. 
My grandma is 70 years old, but she’s fit as a fiddle.

Disfrutar / Divertirse como enano

Literal Translation Enjoy yourself like a dwarf
Meaning Have a great time
Similar English Idiom Have a blast
Example Estoy disfrutando como enano.
I’m having a blast.

Ser un ave nocturna

Literal Translation To be a nocturnal bird
Meaning Someone who stays up late
Similar English Idiom To be a night owl
Example Soy un ave nocturna.
I’m a night owl.

Ser más fuerte que un roble

Literal Translation Stronger than an oak tree
Meaning Very strong
Similar English Idiom Strong as an ox
Example Es más fuerte que un roble.
He’s as strong as an ox.

Aburrirse como una ostra

Literal Translation Bored as an oyster
Meaning Very bored
Similar English Idiom Bored to tears
Example Me aburro como una ostra. Vámonos.
I’m bored to tears. Let’s go.

Estar hasta las narices

Literal Translation Up the noses or nostrils
Meaning Had enough of something
Similar English Idiom Fed up, sick and tired
Example ¡Estoy hasta las narices de tanto tráfico!
I’m fed up with all of this traffic!

Ir sobre ruedas

Literal Translation To go on wheels
Meaning To happen easily without problems
Similar English Idiom To run smoothly, to run like clockwork
Example La clase va sobre ruedas.
The class is running smoothly.

Encontrar tu media naranja

Literal Translation Find your half orange
Meaning Meet your soulmate or spouse
Similar English Idiom Find your other half
Example He encontrado a mi media naranja.
I’ve found my better half.

Estar como una cabra

Literal Translation To be like a goat
Meaning Behaving strangely or out of the ordinary
Similar English Idiom To be crazy
Example Estás como una cabra.
You’re completely crazy.

De punta en blanco

Literal Translation On point in white
Meaning Dressed up
Similar English Idiom All dolled up, dressed to the nines
Example ¡Vas de punta en blanco!
You’re all dressed up!

Tener mala leche

Literal Translation To have bad milk
Meaning To be upset , to have bad intentions
Similar English Idiom Down in the dumps, bent out of shape
Example Ten cuidado con Ana porque tiene mala leche.
Be careful with Ana because she has bad intentions..

No tener pelos en la lengua

Literal Translation Not have hairs on the tongue
Meaning To be straightforward
Similar English Idiom To speak your mind, to tell it like it is
Example No tengo pelos en la lengua.
I’m not afraid to speak my mind.

Se te durmió el gallo

Literal Translation The rooster fell asleep
Meaning I woke up late
Similar English Idiom I overslept
Example Perdón por llegar tarde, se me durmió el gallo.

Armar un pancho

Literal Translation Making a scene
Meaning Being dramatic, arguing
Similar English Idiom Making a scene, causing a scene
Example No armes un pancho.
Don’t make a scene.

Echar una pestañita

Literal Translation Throw an eyelash
Meaning Take a nap
Similar English Idiom Catch forty winks
Example Voy a echar una pestañita.
I’m going to take a nap.

Por si las moscas

Literal Translation For if the flies
Meaning To protect against something that might happen
Similar English Idiom Just in case
Example Llevamos nuestros paraguas por si las moscas.
Let’s bring our umbrellas just in case.

Hacer un paro

Literal Translation Do a strike
Meaning Help out, do a favor
Similar English Idiom Give me a hand
Example Me está haciendo un paro.
He’s helping me out.

Ser un gallina

Literal Translation To be a hen
Meaning To be a coward, to be afraid
Similar English Idiom To be a chicken
Example No seas gallina.
Don’t be a chicken.

Estar en todo

Literal Translation To be in everything
Meaning In control of things
Similar English Idiom On the ball, on top of things
Example ¿Te diste cuenta del error verdad? ¡Qué bárbaro,estás en todo!
Did you realize the mistake didn´t you? Wow, you´re in everything!

Estar hecho un ají

Literal Translation To be made a chili pepper
Meaning To be very angry
Similar English Idiom Seeing red
Example Está hecho un ají.
He’s very angry.

Echar agua al mar

Literal Translation Throw water into the sea
Meaning Doing something useless or ineffective
Similar English Idiom Herding cats
Example Estudiar ahora para el examen que tendrás en una hora es como echar agua al mar.
Studying now for the exam you will have in one hour is pointless.

No ver tres en un burro

Literal Translation Can’t see three (people) on a donkey
Meaning Has terrible eyesight
Similar English Idiom Blind as a bat
Example Sin gafas no veo tres en un burro.
Without glasses, I can’t see anything.

Dar la vuelta a la tortilla

Literal Translation Flip the tortilla over
Meaning Change the situation dramatically
Similar English Idiom Turn the tables
Example Mi hermana dio la vuelta a la tortilla y ganó el juego.
My sister turned the tables and won the game.

No hay color

Literal Translation Doesn’t have color
Meaning One is much better than the other
Similar English Idiom Can’t be compared
Example Este es el mejor libro. No hay color.
This is the best book. Nothing can be compared.

Spanish Homeschool Curriculum

For an authentic Spanish language learning experience, you’ll want to check out our Llamitas Spanish Curriculum for kids. This thematic curriculum is rooted in Hispanic culture, with lessons that enrich your child’s Spanish vocabulary through authentic songs, stories, games and more!

Llamitas Spanish curriculum mockup including the textbook and curriculum box

Whether you’re a bilingual family or you want to learn Spanish alongside your child, this full-year program has you covered with scripts, lessons, and engaging activities. Homeschooling a foreign language doesn’t have to be hard when you have the right resources.

Our open & go curriculum has everything you need to teach your child Spanish at home, with no prep work or guesswork required from you!