More Spanish Phrases to Twist Your Tongue Around – They’re weird!

Get practicing everyone! Here are  another five weird, yet wonderful Spanish phrases to add to your usual or unusual repertoire.

1: En todas partes cuecen habas “(Everyone cooks beans everywhere).”

old-people-laughingThey do? So it seems that cooking broad beans is now a suspicious activity! Okay, maybe not, but for the sake of this saying, let’s act as if it were. The Spanish use this phrase to point out that no one is free from trouble or guilt. NO ONE! Its origins date back to when Spain kicked the Jews out of the country in the 15th century, and it’s a really twisted way of saying that even the purest family had some kind of relationship with them. Do I detect a little Spanish political correctness here?

2: Cuando las barbas del vecino veas cortar, pon las tuyas a remojar “(When you see your neighbor’s beard being cut, start getting yours wet).”

model-1504323__180It could be used to describe the end of the bearded hipsters, but the Spanish already said this a few centuries before beards were cool (when they were, you know, just normal beardy things catching food and giving a home to tiny creatures). The meaning? Get ready for any situation or change when you see it coming. Get ready for shaved faces and sideburns becoming cool again by saying goodbye to your beloved beard. Considering half the male population today adorns a well-groomed beard – this shift could get serious. Naked chin-alert!

3: Me crecen los enanos “(Dwarves can grow up).” clown-94611__180

The whole version of this expression gives more context, and starts with “I put on a circus,” so you just need to call on your imagination to get to the meaning. I’m guessing you have to picture yourself putting on a circus by bringing in the clowns or hiring a band of dwarfs. But what if your dwarves suddenly started growing up and stopped being dwarves? Well, that’s the kind of situation the Spanish are trying to describe with this… “PC”expression. My guess is, that this is just another one of those “what if” scenarios explained in a very off the chart, but colourful way.  But what do I know? I’m not Spanish!

4: Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos “(Raise ravens and they’ll pluck out your eyes).”

raven-988229__180This (cough) beautiful saying, could haunt you at night while you sleep, but… at least you’ll learn to be careful. Meaning? It’s ok to be a good person, to help others and be generous. But what if those people you selflessly helped, turn out to be ungrateful blood thirsty, eyeball plucking ones? Yes I know… bordering on the extreme – but better to be safe than sorry I’m guessing is the moral behind this grisly phrase.

And last but not least…

5: A buenas horas, mangas verdes “(It’s too late, green sleeves).”


Don’t try to find any hidden meanings added by the mysterious green sleeves part. You could just say “a buenas horas” “it’s too late,” then everyone would understand, and the Spanish wouldn’t be able to confuse non native speakers.  The addition of green sleeves refers to the Santa Hermandad, a group of soldiers in the Middle Ages, whose uniforms had green sleeves, and who apparently arrived too late that many times – it inspired this popular saying.


Know some weird and wonderful sayings of your own? We would love to hear from you!

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