15 Common Spanish Idioms

Idioms can't be translated directly and are difficult to understand. But every language has them. For example, in English a few common idioms are "It's raining cats and dogs", "You're barking up the wrong tree" and "You're pulling my leg". Spanish idioms can be challenging for non-native speakers. So why take the time to learn them? Because, understanding Spanish idioms will improve your ability to converse naturally with others and improve your fluency.

While there are hundreds of Spanish idioms, there are a few that are used more frequently than others. The following are the 15 most common idioms in the Spanish language. We recommend mastering each one.

English idiom/translation
Spanish idiom
pulling my leg
(you're kidding me)
tomar el pelo
(literal: to take the hair)
Really? I don't believe you. You're pulling my leg!
¿De veras? Yo no te creo. ¡Me estás tomando el pelo!

to be crazy
estar como una cabra
(literal: to be like a goat)
When you get drunk, you are a little crazy.
Cuando te emborrachas, estás como una cabra.

it's a piece of cake
(it's very easy to do)
ser pan comido
(literal: to be bread eaten)
You're math assignment is a piece of cake.
Su tarea de matemáticas es pan comido.

spare no expense
(money is not an object)
tirar la casa por la ventana
(literal: to throw the house through the window)
I spared no expense when I threw that party.
iré la casa por la ventana cuando di esa fiesta.

to tell it how it is
(to always speak your mind)
no tener pelos en la lengua
(literal: not to have hairs on your tongue)
My mom always tells it how it is.
Mi mamá nunca tiene pelos en la lengua.

to be stunned
quedarse de piedra
(literal: stay like stone)
I was stunned when I heard what she had done.
Me quedé de piedra cuando cuando me enteré de lo que había hecho.

jaw-dropping
(to be amazed)
quedarse con la boca abierta
(literal: stay with the mouth open)
The performance was jaw-dropping.
Me quedé con boca abierta cuand vi el desempeño.

what was said was not meant
lo dijo de labios para fuera
(literal: he said it from the lips outwards)
When he said he loved you, he didn't really mean it.
Cuando dijo que te quería, lo dijo de labios para fuera.

to put the cart before the horse
(to have things in the wrong order)
empezar la casa por el tejado
(literal: to start the house by the roof)
When he bought a new home before he had a job, he put the cart before the horse.
Cuando compró una casa nueva antes de procurar un trabajo, empezo la casa por el tejado.

to be hopping made
(to be very angry)
estar hecho un ají
(literal: to be made of chili)
He didn't like what she said. He's hopping mad.
No le gustó lo que ella dijo. Está hecho un ají.

to be as fit as a fiddle
(to be very healthy)
estar más sano que una pera
(literal: to be healthier than a pear)
The doctor says I'm fit as a fiddle.
El doctor dice que estoy más sano que una pera.

to be bosom buddies
(to be best friends)
ser uña y carne
(literal: to be fingernail and flesh)
Jason and Miguel are bosom buddies.
Jason y Miguel son uña y carne.

it makes my mouth water
(it's so delicious I salivate)
se me hace agua la boca
(literal: it makes my mouth water)
It makes my mouth water whenever I smell barbecue.
Se me hace agua la boca cuando huelo asado.

to be in a bad mood
tener un humor de perros
(literal: to have a mood of dogs)
They’re in a bad mood because they lost the soccer game.
Ellos tienen un humor de perros porque perdieron el juego de fútbol.

to be loaded
(to have a lot of money)
tiene más lana que un borrego
(literal: he has more wool than a lamb)
He bought his son a new car because he's loaded.
Compró un coche nuevo para su hijo porque tiene más lana que un borrego.

it's pointless
echar agua al mar
(literal: to throw water into the sea)
He's never going to change. Trying to convince him he's wrong is pointless.
Nunca va a cambiar. Tratar de convencerlo de que está equivocado es como echar agua al mar.