An Alphabet of Spanish Idioms (A – M)

One of the best ways to learn Spanish is to take a look at some of the popular, or plain funny, idioms used by Spanish speakers! Spanish people are very fond of using idioms so there are thousands – we couldn’t possibly tell you them all. So – we’ve selected 26 of our favourite, using […]

One of the best ways to learn Spanish is to take a look at some of the popular, or plain funny, idioms used by Spanish speakers! Spanish people are very fond of using idioms so there are thousands – we couldn’t possibly tell you them all.

So – we’ve selected 26 of our favourite, using all the letters of the alphabet (except K and W!*), so you can impress your Spanish friends with a variety of expressions! For each idiom, you’ll see the expression, its literal translation, what it actually means, and an idiomatic English equivalent. Enjoy!

Today we’ll be looking at our first 13… A – M!
* Did you know… that the letters “K” and “W” are not native to Spanish? These letters are only used in words coming from other languages (e.g. “whiskey”) – there are no traditional idioms using these letters, so we have replaced these letters with an extra “S” idiom each (since there are hundreds beginning with “ser”!). Oh okay… we had to cheat a bit with “X” and “Z” too! ????

 

A – D

Andar con pies de plomo
To walk with lead feet
Meaning: To be very careful
Equivalent: To walk on the safe side

Buscar el príncipe azul
To look for the blue prince
Meaning: To look for the perfect man
Equivalent: To look for Prince Charming

Cantar las cuarenta
To sing the forty
Meaning: To tell someone off without holding back
Equivalent: To give someone a few home truths

Dormir a pierna suelta
To sleep with a loose leg
Meaning: To sleep deeply
Equivalent: To sleep like a log

 

E – H

Encontrar tu media naranja
To find your half orange
Meaning: To find your perfect partner
Equivalent: To find your better half

Fumarse una clase
To smoke a class
Meaning: To skip a class
Equivalent: To play hooky/truant

Ganarse las lentejas
To earn your lentils
Meaning: To earn a living
Equivalent: To earn a crust

Hacer algo al pie de la letra
To do something to the foot of the letter
Meaning: Do something exactly as instructed
Equivalent: To do something to the T

 

 

I – M

Irse pitando
To go off whistling
Meaning: To leave quickly
Equivalent: To be off like a shot

Jugar con fuego
To play with fire
Meaning: To be doing something risky
Equivalent: To play with fire (same!)

(None for K – let’s have a Ser idiom instead!)
Ser más pesado que una vaca en brazos

To be heavier than a cow in the arms
Meaning: To be very annoying
Equivalent: To be a pain in the neck

Liarse la manta a la cabeza
To tie your blanket over your head
Meaning: To make a (sometimes irrational) decision
Equivalent: To take the plunge

Meter la pata
To put your leg in
Meaning: To make a mess / mistake
Equivalent: To put your foot in it

 

That concludes the first half of our Alphabet of Idioms! Remember to check back next week for N – Z

 

We hope you’ll find the idioms useful – learn them and you’ll be talking like a native in Spanish in no time! Want to know more colloquial phrases? Check out our top 5 Spanish proverbs about friendship! ????

Continue your Spanish learning adventure in Spain, in a fun and friendly class environment tailored to you, with AIL Malaga’s large range of Spanish courses! All of our classes are carried out in small and intimate groups with personalised attention from the teachers – so you’ll learn Spanish for real.

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