11 Spanish idioms that mean same in English but are totally different

The Best Spanish Fiesta

11 Spanish idioms that mean same in English but are totally different

It’s widely known that learning Spanish isn’t the hardest language out there. However, there are a few confusing expressions, in every other language, that when translated literally, don’t make any sense in English. Those sayings are called idioms.

Idioms are phrases or expressions that are used with a figurative meaning, rather than the literal meaning they would have. They are usually used in the informal speech, and when in the correct context, make perfect sense. Most idioms are directly related to the country or region they come from, linking to the culture, history and popular beliefs.

We’ve rounded up the weirdest Spanish idioms that gave the April Feria office a right chuckle…


Idiom Literal translation Meaning Equivalent
Ser un gallina To be a hen To be a coward To be a chicken
No ver tres en un burro Not being able to see three on a donkey Having really bad vision To be blind as a bat
Domir a pierna suelta Sleep with a loose leg To sleep deeply To sleep like a log
Tener la negra To have the black To have bad luck To be jinxed
Le falta un tornillo Missing a screw To be crazy To have a screw loose
Perder los estribos To lose the stirrup To get angry To fly off the handle
Encontrar tu media naranja To find you half orange To find the perfect partner To find you other/ better half
Echar leña al fuego To throw wood to the fire To raise the intensity of something To add fuel to the fire
Al mal tiempo buena cara To bad weather good face If life gets tough, stay happy If life gives you lemons, make lemonade
Costar un ojo de la cara To cost an eye off the face Something very expensive To cost you an arm and a leg
Poner verde a alguien To turn someone green To criticise/ gossip about someone To call someone every name in the book

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