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Monday, March 27, 2023

43 Bizarre and Distinctive Spanish Phrases With No Direct English Translations

unique spanish words

Quite a few phrases exist in Spanish that don’t have direct English translations.

Some phrases might imply one thing in English actually, however they imply one thing utterly completely different when spoken in Spanish.

Figuring out these bizarre Spanish phrases received’t simply allow you to perceive native audio system but in addition provide you with tons of recent methods to precise concepts.

On this publish, you’ll be taught 43 distinctive Spanish phrases and the right way to use them.


That means: The colour between grey and brown.

A number of the first issues we train our youngsters are their colours proper? Crimson, purple, black and so forth.

Have you ever ever seen a automobile that isn’t fairly grey however it isn’t fairly brown both? I’ve one, truly, and each time English-speaking individuals ask me what shade my automobile is I simply shrug. When Spanish-speaking individuals ask me, I’ve acquired a solution.

That means: Hairless, however extra particularly a person who can’t develop facial hair or has very skinny facial hair.

I’ve a pal who appears like he’s twelve despite the fact that he’s in his thirties. He doesn’t actually have substantial facial hair, can’t develop a beard and has evidently discovered the fountain of youth.

I believe we are able to all agree that we all know somebody or have seen somebody like this. Perhaps you possibly can envision a boy in your center faculty who was so pleased with that one little whisker on his chin.

That means: A one-armed man.

Curiously, we don’t have this phrase within the English vocabulary. Now we have phrases that come shut, however most of them are derogatory.

That means: A one-eyed man.

Spanish audio system are a lot better at describing individuals’s bodily options. A phrase like this in English would make it a lot simpler to explain pirates.

That means: To really feel embarrassed for somebody even when they don’t really feel embarrassed themselves; “second-hand embarrassment.”

Have you ever ever heard of the web site Individuals Of Walmart?

It’s full of images of people that determined to go to Walmart with no disgrace. A few of them are in pajamas. Most are carrying garments which can be too tight, inappropriate or downright scary.

Or, if that’s not ringing a bell, have you ever seen the TV present “What Not To Put on?”

All episodes characteristic hidden digital camera footage of somebody strolling down the road unaware of how ridiculous or frumpy they appear. In fact, you possibly can’t say something should you see one thing like this in actual life.

As an alternative, you shake your head.

That means: A morbid fascination.

Do you like Tim Burton? Or the sight of blood? Perhaps you loved studying “The Inform-Story Coronary heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. You’re keen on one thing darkish, and also you aren’t certain why as a result of it’s creepy or gross.

That means: When one thing’s sickening or nauseating as a result of it’s too candy.

On a uncommon event, I’ll take a chunk of darkish chocolate cake with decadent chocolate frosting and assume to myself, “Wow! That’s candy!”

Then a minute or two later I’ll remorse that chocolate cake as a result of my head is pulsing from sweetness overload.

Have you ever ever felt somewhat nauseated after seeing a pair overly affectionate with one another, maybe smothering one another in kisses on the road nook? This verb works for that, too.

That means: A interval of 15 days.

Everyone seems to be ready for the quincena! 

That’s the bi-monthly fee that many workers obtain within the Spanish-speaking world: As soon as on the fifteenth of the month, and as soon as on the finish of the month.

It’s virtually like saying “a fortnight,” however they use 15 days as a marker as an alternative of 14.

For individuals awaiting paychecks, that first fee of the month all the time falls on the fifteenth.

That means: The sensation of awe and inspiration had, particularly when standing in nature. The overwhelming sense of magnificence and magic.

It’s typically argued that that is essentially the most tough Spanish phrase to translate into English.

In Spanish literature—particularly poetry—this phrase is commonly used to explain how an individual feels about nature.

Nevertheless, particularly in Spain, it may be used to explain an indescribable allure or magic that isn’t restricted to nature. You may hear in regards to the duende of flamenco singing, for instance.

That means: When one thing overwhelms, bewilders, or stuns you to the purpose that you may’t focus and assume straight.

I’ve two daughters which can be below the age of two. Naturally, my home is all the time a large number. I’m all the time a day behind and a greenback quick.

It is a feeling I’m extremely aware of, however there’s no actual approach to describe it in English.

One other time I typically felt this fashion was after I was in faculty, and I had two papers, an examination, a challenge and twenty pages of studying due the following day.

We are able to additionally use this verb after we hear the information that dumbfounds or stuns us, leaving us speechless or bothered.

That means: When a toddler may be very connected (emotionally) to their mom.

Whereas we’re with regards to my daughters, my oldest daughter turns into very frantic after I depart her.

Whether or not I’m leaving for work or simply leaving the room, oftentimes, she’ll panic. Even when her dad remains to be within the room along with her, she’ll stress after I’m not along with her.

That means: The husband of your partner’s sister or the husband of your sister-in-law.

This summer time my husband was shadowing a physician to be taught extra about his observe. When individuals requested how we knew the physician it turned complicated quick. If solely concuñado had been a phrase in English.

That means: The connection between two units of in-laws.

My daughter has two units of grandparents, my mother and father and my husband’s mother and father. We are able to clearly clarify the connection of each units of grandparents to my daughter, to me and to my husband (mother and pop and the in-laws).

However what are they to one another?

My mother and father and my husband’s mother and father are consuegros.

That means: The reflection of the solar off of a floor or the glare of the solar.

Have you ever ever held a mirror in your hand, caught the solar’s glare excellent and shined it in your older brother’s eyes? Who hasn’t?

That means: To go indoors within the night as soon as the day is over or to go residence to relaxation or go to mattress.

You’ve been sitting on the porch having fun with the night. However now the solar has set. The yawns are beginning to set in. The night’s coming to an finish and also you all resolve to go indoors.

That means: To put on one thing for the primary time or to interrupt one thing in.

After you buy groceries, you’re past excited to put on your new garments for the primary time. Not less than, that’s how I all the time really feel. Generally I’ll even wait till I do know I’ll be round many individuals to point out off my new digs.

That means: Going out to have a snack, espresso, brunch or another small meal.

In English we frequently name this “going out for espresso.” However that’s very limiting to only getting espresso. Merendar widens that concept up fairly a bit.

That means: The dialog on the dinner desk after the meal is over.

Whereas residing in Argentina, my household cherished to exit to eat on the native eating places. The ambiance was extremely completely different from any restaurant I’ve been to in america.

As soon as the meal is over in america, the waiter often will deliver you the examine, you’ll pay instantly and also you’ll depart.

In lots of Spanish cultures, it’s quite common to remain on the desk for hours after a meal and speak over a cup of espresso.

That means: When Thursday is a vacation, and you’re taking off Friday to bridge the vacation to the weekend.

Or, when Tuesday is a vacation and you’re taking off Monday to increase your weekend.

Very like sobremesa, puente speaks to the Spanish tradition. Now, puente does imply bridge however, in some instances, it’s a really particular (and summary) bridge that we don’t speak about a lot in English.

That means: The day earlier than yesterday.

Technically this phrase could be translated straight into English, however it’s a prolonged, wordy phrase. Wouldn’t or not it’s good if we had a single phrase?

Antier is a bit antiquated, and anteayer is the extra frequent phrase in modern-day.

That means: Somebody delicate to the chilly (the chilly can confer with the climate, drinks or meals).

My neighbor’s mother was on the town, staying along with her for a couple of days.

The climate was fairly good and sunny. Then abruptly it began snowing.

She got here downstairs and informed her daughter, “There’s a flight leaving in an hour, I’m out of right here!”

That means: Unable to sleep or sleep-deprived.

We’ve all had these nights after we’ve tossed and turned and tried to sleep however couldn’t persuade the sandman to cease at our mattress.

That means: Greater than “I such as you,” however not fairly “I really like you.”

You’re in a brand new relationship. You’re beginning to fall for this man/lady. You want them as greater than a pal, however leaping from pal to “I really like you” is like making an attempt to leap throughout an enormous lake. If solely you had a stepping stone.

That means: If you converse to somebody within the casual  type.

Usted versus is a complicated idea for somebody who’s simply studying Spanish or for somebody who speaks no Spanish in any respect. We don’t have formal and casual speech in English.

That means: Somebody who’s from america.

Whereas I used to be residing in Argentina, I’d have buddies ask me about my nationality.

“I’m American,” I’d reply. “North American or South American?” “North American…I’m from the States…” could be my uncertain reply to that follow-up query.

If solely I’d recognized that Spanish has a extra particular phrase for this than English does!

That means: The area between your eyebrows.

Do you bear in mind Bert and Ernie from “Sesame Road”? Bert had that fabulous unibrow, a fuzzy line throughout his puppet face. He didn’t have an entrecejo.

That means: A awful job, a shabby piece of labor. When one thing’s put collectively poorly.

Have you ever ever seen a automobile held collectively by zip ties and duct tape? Or perhaps somebody has made a cake and it appears terrible?

That means: Calling somebody, letting it ring as soon as, then hanging up so the particular person is aware of to name you again.

This phrase was most likely extra relevant earlier than texting was so extensively used.

But it surely’s nonetheless one thing I discover myself doing after I need somebody to name me again and I do know they received’t reply my preliminary name.

That means: The chief of a army coup.

Maybe it’s good that we haven’t wanted this phrase in English.

It is smart that, with as a lot political unrest as there was in Spanish-speaking nations, there could be a particular Spanish phrase for somebody like Franco.

That means: Somebody who enjoys being given affection or desires to offer affection by means of bodily contact.

Everyone knows that one who loves hugs, kisses, and affection. They could even prefer to be fussed over.

We could possibly be speaking about our grandma who loves hugging and kissing us, or our cat who desires your fixed consideration and petting.

That means: Strutting round like a peacock, performing like they personal the place.

Generally, the mimosos in our lives take pleasure in pavonearse.

That means: Doing one thing out of behavior, doing one thing that you just’re used to doing.

Everybody does this 1,000,000 instances a day with out even realizing it—tying our footwear, washing our fingers a sure means, pouring our cereal first then the milk, and so forth.

That means: Somebody who has the identical title as you.

If we had a enjoyable phrase in English like this, kids would cease being irritated when another person has the identical title.

That means: Pal with advantages.

This isn’t an idea that’s unusual in any tradition worldwide. Nevertheless, Spanish has consolidated one other wordy English phrase right into a single elegant phrase.

That means: To get up at dawn, or very early

The literal translation of the verb madrugar could be “to daybreak.”

I all the time use this phrase in Spain as a result of I’ve to get up earlier than the solar rises to get to my instructing job on time.

No, no puedo, tengo que madrugar mañana. (No, I can’t, I’ve to get up early tomorrow.)

This phrase can also be featured within the clever Spanish proverb:

“No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.” (Waking up early doesn’t make the solar rise earlier.)

That means: A vacationer who leaves town on weekends and holidays to go to the countryside

This phrase refers to that particular model of vacationer who leaves town heart on weekends and holidays and heads out to the countryside with their bermuda shorts, barbecue grill and carful of children.

The phrase dominguero can be an adjective, which refers to one thing typical of Sunday.

For instance, the phrase ropa dominguera (Sunday garments) is the equal of the English phrase “Sunday greatest.”

That means: To peck, nibble on, snack on

Are you the kind of one who hovers by the snack desk at a celebration?

Do you strongly imagine that cheese platters and hors d’oeuvres make social engagements extra pleasing?

In that case, you’ll discover many makes use of for the verb picotear. There’s additionally a handy noun type to explain the kind of social occasion the place one can picotearun picoteo.

That means: An adjectives that describes the place somebody comes from.

Examples of gentilicios:

  • Uruguayo (Uruguayan)
  • Madrileño (particular person from Madrid)
  • Andaluz (particular person from Andalucía)
  • Neoyorquino (New Yorker)

Whip this query out whenever you overlook phrases like guatemalteco or costarricense, or whenever you’re unclear on the distinction between a bonaerense (particular person from the province of Buenos Aires) and a porteño (particular person from town of Buenos Aires).

That means: @ signal

One evening whereas backpacking in Argentina, I wished to examine my electronic mail at a hostel.

However I couldn’t work out the international keyboard, so I needed to clumsily ask in Spanish, “The place’s the, uhm, the little factor, like an “a,” with a circle, you recognize? The factor for electronic mail addresses?”

He stared at me, confused, after which lastly responded. “Ah. Arroba.

The phrase has since turn out to be useful many instances whereas dictating my electronic mail deal with over the telephone to new buddies, co-workers, and public servants.

The arroba additionally accomplishes a novel operate in Spanish: It permits Spanish audio system to be gender-neutral of their writing.

For instance, a Spanish speaker may begin a bunch electronic mail with “¡Hola a tod@s!” (Hiya everybody!). When residence looking in Spain, I often noticed listings that learn “buscando compañer@ de piso” (searching for male or feminine roommate).

That means: Mass outside ingesting session

Suppose you wander by means of a park or plaza in a Spanish metropolis at about 11:30 p.m. on a Friday.

In that case, there’s probability you’ll see a bunch of younger individuals dressed to kill, holding liters of beer and varied plastic bottles of indeterminable content material.

It is a botellón, a thrifty social observe frequent amongst Spanish youngsters and college college students.

That means: Talking with Latin American pronunciation

There are numerous variations between Latin American and European Spanish. Maybe essentially the most noticeable distinction is in how the 2 continents pronounce their c’s and z’s.

In Spain, these two letters are pronounced with a lisped “th” sound. In Latin America, however, these letters sound equivalent to an “s.”

The phrase zapato (shoe) in Spain would sound one thing like “thapato,” whereas in Latin America it might sound like “sapato.”

That means: Compulsion, obsession, fixation

The versatile phrase manía covers all types of issues: dangerous habits, superstitions, pet peeves, obsessions, and so forth.

Usually, individuals will speak about their manías with a touch of irony or self-deprecation. They know their fixation is foolish or unreasonable, however they obsess nonetheless!

For instance, I’ve a pal whose automobile radio quantity should all the time be set to a quantity that ends in 3, 5 or 7. To clarify herself to a Spanish speaker, my pal may shrug and say,

Es una manía que tengo.” (It’s a bizarre fixation I’ve.)

That means: “Annoying bureaucratic stuff”—the various little duties you need to full to get one thing accomplished.

You probably have tried to use for international residency in a Spanish-speaking nation, I can virtually assure that you’re aware of the time period trámite.

Some comparable English phrases are errands, preparations or crimson tape.

Use the phrase trámite with the verbs hacer (to do) and realizar (to perform).

Tengo que hacer algunos trámites antes de viajar a Irlanda. (I’ve to type some issues out earlier than I journey to Eire.)


There are much more distinctive Spanish phrases not on this checklist. You’re prone to spot them by listening to conversations between native audio system.

When you can’t chat with a local speaker, you possibly can learn Spanish books or watch Spanish TV and films.

There are additionally hundreds of movies on FluentU, which include interactive subtitles that present expert-vetted phrase translations that allow you to be taught in context—particularly helpful for bizarre Spanish phrases.

The extra distinctive Spanish phrases you recognize, the upper your probabilities of correctly expressing your ideas in trendy Spanish.

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