The Trymatic’s guide to sayings and common expressions for a more in-depth comprehension of the language
By Alejandro Pedretti
“To deny that sayings, proverbs, adages and sentences are, within the national life, as the people’s philosophy book is to stop recognizing the teachings that experience offers as they flow through the masses from generation to generation”
Santos Erminy Arismendi
Actions speak louder than words ::: Una acción vale más que mil palabras
In Spanish we say: an action is worth more than a thousand words instead of literally translating Las acciones hablan más fuerte que las palabras. Meaning that people’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say. Is important to note that, in Spanish, you can also say as an equivalent:
una imagen vale más que mil palabras/an image is worth more than a thousand words
To add insult to injury::: Añadir sal a la herida
In Spanish we say: to pour salt into the wound instead of literally translating Añadir insulto a la herida. Meaning to further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavorable situation. Is important to note that, in Spanish, you can also say as an equivalent:
Meter el dedo en la herida/To stick the finger in the wound
Beat around the bush ::: Irse por las ramas
In Spanish we say: crossing through the branches instead of literally translating Batirse alrededor del arbusto. Meaning to avoid the main topic. Not speaking directly about the issue.
Best of both worlds ::: Lo mejor de ambos mundos
In Spanish we use the same expression as it would be translated literally. Meaning to have all the advantages.
Costs an arm and a leg ::: Cuesta un ojo de la cara
In Spanish we say: Costs an eye of the face instead of literally translating Cuesta un brazo y una pierna. Therefore, changing the body part that is up for exchange. Meaning that something is very expensive
To be a piece of cake ::: Ser pan comido
In Spanish we say: it’s eaten bread instead of literally translating es un pedazo de pastel. Meaning that a certain action/goal can be done/reached with ease. To be overqualified for something. Effortless.
Cat got your tongue? ::: ¿El ratón te comió la lengua?
In Spanish we say: Mouse ate your tongue? instead of literally translating El gato te agarró la lengua. Meaning basically the same thing, just changing the animal involved in the saying. To be left speechless, embarrassed, to be put “on-spot”.
To hang in the balance ::: Pender de un hilo
In Spanish we say: To hang of a thread instead of literally translating colgar en la balanza. Meaning that it’s not certain what will happen to the subject of the expression. In general, it denotes uncertainty, doubt.
Better late than never ::: Mejor tarde que nunca
In Spanish, the translation remains, literally, the same. Meaning that is better for something to happen, even if it’s not at the desired time, than to not happen at all.
To cross one’s fingers ::: Cruzar los dedos
The expression is written exactly the same in Spanish. Meaning one’s desire to wishfully achieve something we’ve longed for or are looking forward to. Hope for good luck, fortune.
Kill two birds with one stone ::: Matar dos pájaros de un tiro
In Spanish we say: Kill two birds with one shot (from firearm) instead of literally translating Matar dos pájaros con una piedra. Therefore choosing a different projectile. Meaning to accomplish two different things at the same time.
Speak of the devil! ::: Hablando del rey de Roma!
In Spanish we say: Speaking of the King of Rome! Instead of literally translating Hablando del Diablo! Therefore changing the character. Is important to note that, in Spanish, this refers to an old verse that rhymes: hablando del rey de Roma/mira quién se asoma! which is speaking of the King of Rome/look who shows up!
To cross the line ::: Pasarse de la raya
In Spanish we use the same saying, it means that one has done something that was off-limits for another person’s opinion/point of view.
To hit the nail on the head ::: Dar en el calvo
In Spanish we say: To hit on the nail instead of literally translating Darle al clavo en la cabeza. Meaning to accurately and exactly describe what is causing a situation or problem. To be able to recognize conflicting agents within a situation.
Better safe tan sorry ::: Mejor prevenir que lamentar
In Spanish we say: it’s better to prevent than to regret instead of literally translating Mejor seguro que arrepentido. Meaning that it is better to approach a future situation with a certain prudence than to feel sorry for what happened for not being preventive enough.