30 Authentic Spanish Idioms That Will Get You Mistaken For A Native Speaker

30 Spanish idioms

You can measure your success in learning Spanish or any other language by how well you understand and use its idioms.

Idioms are phrases that have a figurative meaning, often very different from the literal translation of the words. Idioms are sometimes strange, often funny, and can be quite confusing to non-native speakers.

Think about the following phrases in English and imagine how they would sound to someone learning English.

You probably know exactly what the sentences are trying to convey. But the meaning is not readily apparent with the words alone.

Spanish, like English, has a whole slew of idiomatic expressions and phrases that can add colour to your speech…if you can understand them.

And going back to the list of English idioms, how did you learn what those phrases mean?

Chances are good you just know them through hearing them over and over in context.

That's also the trick when it comes to idioms in Spanish.

There's no substitute for hearing, reading, and saying idioms hundreds of times in authentic conversation to truly master their usage in Spanish. But before you can try them out yourself, it helps to know what they mean.

That's where this post comes in!

Here are 30 Spanish idioms, including the most common and some of the most memorable you will come across in the Spanish-speaking world.

Yes, this list will help you master Spanish idioms. But I hope it will also be fun to read. The literal translations of many idioms are just plain funny.

See if you can guess the meaning to any of these idioms before reading the translation!

By the way, if you want to master Spanish idioms and sound like a native speaker, then check out the Fluent Spanish Academy, a library of material with audio and transcripts to help you get off the intermediate plateau.

7 Spanish Idioms (And What They Really Mean)

The first 7 idioms on this list are also explained at length in the Fluent Spanish Academy YouTube video below. Click to hear the pronunciation and detailed descriptions of each.

#1 Ser Pan Comido

ejemplo: Este examen es pan comido. (This exam is a piece of cake)

#2 Acostarse Con Las Gallinas

ejemplo: Ya eres muy aburrido, ahora solo te acuestas con las gallinas (You are so boring, you only go to bed early now)

#3 Andarse Por Las Ramas

Spanish idioms andarse por las ramas

ejemplo: Se anda por las ramas. Aún no me ha confirmado nada (He's beating around the bush. He still hasn't confirmed anything.)

#4 Peor Es Nada

ejemplo: Esperaba tener más que una semana de vacaciones, pero peor es nada. (I was hoping to get more than a week of holidays, but it's better than nothing.)

#5 Tal Para Cual

ejemplo: Sandra y Ismael son tal para cual (Sandra and Ismael are like two peas in a pod)

#6 Quemarse Las Cejas

Spanish idioms quemarse las cejas

ejemplo: No sé por qué te quemaste las cejas, yo te di que sería fácil (I don't know why you worked so hard. I told you it would be easy)

#7 Buscarle Tres Pies Al Gato

ejemplo: No les busques tres pies al gato. Sabes que tienes que hablar primero con tu novia (Don't go looking for trouble. You know you have to talk to your girlfriend first)

Pretty fun, right?

Idioms make you sound less like you're speaking from a textbook and more like a native speaker. They use colourful language and can add variety and personality to your conversations.

Some idioms are more common in some areas or have slightly different meanings from place to place, so always take your cues from the native speakers you associate with.

Don't be afraid to ask if you need an idiomatic expression explained…but also don't be surprised if your Spanish-speaking friends have to think for a minute before they can explain what an idiom means.

Ready for more idioms? Then keep reading…

23 More Spanish Idioms To Liven Up Your Speech

Spanish idioms Alhambra Granada

Now that you have a feel for what idioms are like in Spanish, here are 23 more colourful idioms you can use to impress your friends:

#1 Con La Manos En La Masa

#2 ¿Qué Le Hace Una Mancha Más Al Tigre?

#3 Al Mal Tiempo, Buena Cara

#4 Tener Memoria De Pez

#5 Empezar La Casa Por El Tejado

#6 Meter La Pata

#7 Estar Hasta Las Narices

Spanish idioms Alicante Spain

#8 Estar Como Una Cabra

#9 Como Llevar Arena A La Playa

#10 Tirar La Casa Por La Ventana

#11 Dar La Vuelta A La Tortilla

#12 Tener Más Lana Que Un Borrego

#13 Quedarse De Piedra

#14 Hablando Del Rey Del Roma

#15 Sin Pelos En La Lengua

#16 Echar Agua El Mar

#17 Si Mi Abuela Tuviera Ruedas Sería Una Bicicleta

#18 Una Media Naranja / Encontrar Tu Media Naranja

#19 Bueno Y Barato No Caben En Un Zapato

#20 No Tener Pies Ni Cabeza

#21 Camarrón Que Se Duerme Se Lo Lleva La Corrientes

#22 Estar Hecho Un Ají

#23 Estaban Como Tres En Un Zapato

Spanish Idioms: The Fun Has Only Just Begun

Spanish idioms Alicante

This list is not exhaustive. Each country and region in the Spanish-speaking world has more idioms than I can list here.

In fact, many Spanish idioms are quite similar to those in English, but I've chosen to focus on those you might not be able to guess the meaning of straightaway.

Idioms are yet another reason why relying on straight translation will only get you so far in learning a new language.

Hopefully this list has inspired you to try your hand at some more colourful expressions. Idioms are supposed to be fun, after all!

Like I said at the start though, there's no substitute for getting exposure to or using idioms when you speak. So that's another great excuse, if ever you need one, to dive into Spanish-speaking literature or movies in Spanish.

What are some of your favourite Spanish idioms? And which ones did you like best in this list? Let me know in the comments. 

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