26 Funny Spanish Phrases You’ll Hear From A Native Speaker

funny spanish phrases

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When you start learning a new language, it’s always good to know phrases that native speakers use, and so in this post, we gathered 26 funny Spanish phrases that you can start using right away.

Something being “funny” is a little subjective, and so some phrases we included sound odd when translated to English, while sound funny in both languages.

You’ll soon see what we mean.

Let’s dive in.

1. No saber ni papa de algo

Literal translation: Not knowing a potato about something

When you have zero knowledge about something, or you are unable to remember something, this phrase can come in handy.

In other words, it’s the equivalent of saying you “do not have a clue about something” in English.

  • I can’t answer that question because I don’t have a clue about politics – No puedo contestar esa pregunta porque no sé ni papa de política

2. Tirar/Botar la casa por la ventana

Literal translation: To throw the house out of the window

Let’s say you organize a huge party or celebration, for which you are open to splurging a ridiculous sum of money on. Similar to “sparing no expense” in English.

  • The neighbors will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, so they’ve decided to spare no expense for it – Los vecinos celebrarán su décimo aniversario, así que han decidido botar la casa por la ventana

3. Ponerse las pilas

Literal translation: To put in the batteries

If a native Spanish speaker tells you “¡ponte las pilas!”,  then you are probably absent-minded, or not focused enough.

Similar to telling somebody “wake up!” in English.

  • Finish your homework. Come on, put some energy on it, Laura! – Termina tu tarea. Dale, ¡ponte las pilas, Laura!

4. Hablando del Rey de Roma…

Literal translation: Speaking of the King of Rome

Similar to “speak of the devil”, this funny Spanish phrase is used when you are talking or gossiping about someone else and that person shows up out of nowhere at that exact moment.

  • Lisa said she would be here at noon… (Lisa shows up out at the exact moment you’re saying this to your friend) Oh, look, speaking of the devil, there she comes! – Lisa dijo que llegaría al mediodía (Lisa llega en el momento exacto cuando le estás diciendo eso a tu amigo) ¡Mira! Hablando del Rey de Roma, ¡allí viene!

5. Ser pan comido

Literal translation: To be eaten bread

When something was simple to do or accomplish. Similar to a “piece of cake” in English.

  • The Spanish test about subjunctive will be a piece of cake – El exámen de español sobre el subjuntivo será pan comido

6. Hacer su agosto

Literal translation: To make your august

This is used to say that somebody made a fortune by doing something very successfully.

  • The street vendors made a bomb by selling those t-shirts – Los buhoneros hicieron su agosto vendiendo esas franelas

7. Tomar el pelo

Literal translation: To take someone else’s hair

In English, this would be pulling your leg and it is used when you are lying or teasing somebody, in a playful way.

  • Miguel didn’t win the lottery, he was pulling your leg. He’s completely broke – Miguel no se ganó la lotería, él estaba tomándote el pelo. No tiene ni un centavo

8. Estar vivito y coleando

Literal translation: To be alive and kicking

Just like the same phrase in English, or saying “alive and well”.

  • Manuel was close to death in that crash. Fortunately, he is alive and kicking – Manuel estuvo a punto de morir en ese choque. Afortunadamente, se encuentra vivito y coleando

9. Irse por las ramas

Literal translation: To go through the branches

This colorful and weird phrase is used when talking about a topic but the main points are often omitted or delayed intentionally. Perhaps because the situation is difficult or unpleasant. Similar to “beat around the bush” in English.

  • They never talk about their problems at school, they’re always beating around the bush – Ellos nunca hablan de sus problemas en la escuela, siempre se van por las ramas

10. Creerse la última Coca-Cola del desierto

Literal translation: To think of oneself as the last coca-cola in the desert.

I love this one.

It’s probably my favorite funny Spanish phrase.

It’s similar to saying that somebody has “their head stuck up their a**” in English. You can use the phrase to describe somebody who is full of their own self-importance.

  • She is so bossy and cocky, she thinks she is the s**t – Ella es tan mandona y arrogante, se cree la ultima coca-cola del desierto

11. Feliz como una lombriz

Literal translation: Happy as a worm

While it sounds a bit odd, it’s easy to remember since the main reason this is a phrase is due to the fact that the word lombriz (worm) rhymes with the word feliz (happy).

You can use this one to express real happiness about something.

  • My sister was as happy as a clam when she bought her new flat – Mi hermana estaba feliz como una lombriz cuando compró su nuevo apartamento

12. Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda

Literal translation: Although the monkey is dressed in silk, monkey remains.

Another one of my favorite funny Spanish phrases, native speakers use this one to refer to someone who may be trying to make something/someone look appealing or attractive, but it’s clear that it’s not working.

Similar to the phrase “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s earin English.

  • They wore those hideous purple dresses and too much makeup. I suppose they don’t know that they can’t make a silk purse out of sow’s ear – Ellas vestían unos espantosos vestidos morados y demasiado maquillaje. Supongo que no saben que aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda

13. Meter la pata

Literal translation: To put in the paw

This is a random one, but it’s basically used to say: “I f**ked up”.

  • I’m really sorry for spoiling the ending of the movie, I messed up! – Lo siento muchísimo por contarte el final de la película, ¡metí la pata!

14. No tener pelos en la lengua

Literal translation: To not having hair on the tongue.

Can you guess the meaning of this?

Another funny Spanish phrase that is used to describe a person as straightforward, because they are honest and direct, and do not try to hide their feelings. Similar to saying that somebody doesn’t “mince his words” in English.

  • Lucia seems so friendly and kind, plus she’s so outspoken on behalf of her feelings – Lucía parece tan amigable y atenta, además no tiene pelos en la lengua para expresar sus sentimientos

15. Ser uña y mugre

Literal translation: To be nail and grime.

Even with the translation, you probably don’t have a clue what this one means, right?

Ok, word for word, this phrase means “to be a nail and dirt”. It’s used to describe two people who are together ALL the time. They go everywhere together, and talk all the time.

Similar to “joined at the hip” in English.

  • Gabriel and Manuel haven’t seen each other in ages, but they used to be joined at the hip at school – Gabriel y Manuel no se han visto en muchísimo tiempo, pero en el colegio solían ser uña y mugre

16. Echarse al agua

Literal translation: To get in the water

An expression to describe a couple who are going to get married. Similar to “ tie the knot” in English.

  • Cindy and Leonardo will get married next Friday. They are thrilled! – Cindy y Leonardo se echarán al agua el viernes que viene. ¡Están contentísimos!

17. ¡Que pedo!

Literal translation: What fart!

Ay, dios.

Believe it or not, this expression isn’t as filthy as it sounds. It’s actually a common Mexican expression meaning “what’s up?” but depending the tone, can also mean “what’s the matter?” or “what’s your problem?”.

  • What’s up, buddy! Do you fancy going to the party?, it’s tonight – ¡Que pedo, guey! ¿Te apuntas al reventón de esta noche?

18. Burro hablando de orejas

Literal translation: A donkey talking about ears

It is an expression used when someone criticizes another for a fault that they have themselves. Similar to “the pot calling the kettle black” in English.

  • Do not tell me what to do!. That’s rich, the pot calling the kettle black, and you used to be like me when younger – ¡No me digas que hacer! Qué gracioso, el burro hablando de orejas, y tú solías ser como yo cuando eras joven

19. Crear / criar fama y echarse a dormir

Literal translation: To create/raise fame and lay down to sleep

Hmmm, I’m guessing that you have no idea about this one? fair enough.

Basically, this phrase is a way of saying that once you gain a certain reputation, it follows you and takes a long time to shake it off, or change.

You can use it both in a positive or in a negative sense.

  • Patricia was a good student, well educated, a good person, and a role model for all her classmates. She won a good reputation and slept at her ease – Patricia era una buena estudiante, bien educada, buena persona y un ejemplo para todos sus compañeros de clase. Ella creó fama y se echó a dormir

20. Sacar los trapos al sol

Literal translation: To take the rags out in the sun

When your best friend reveals unpleasant or private things in front of other people, he or she “está sacando tus trapos al sol”. Similar to the phrase “airing your dirty laundry in public” in English.

  • Anna couldn’t put off with his insults, so she started airing out his laundry in front of his whole family – Anna no podía aguantar más sus insultos, así que empezó a sacarle los trapos al sol delante de toda su familia

21. Mejor malo conocido que bueno por conocer

Literal translation: It is better a well-known bad guy, than a good one you’re about to know.

The translation is a bit clunky.

I suppose this one is similar to “better the devil you know” in English. This phrase is perfect when you think it is wiser to deal with someone or something familiar, although you do not like him, her, or it, than to deal with someone or something you do don’t know, which might be worse.

  • Mariana and Robert sold their house since they didn’t like the new neighborhood. They decided to move back to the old one because it is better the devil you know than the devil you don’t – Mariana y Robert vendieron su casa porque no les gustaba el vecindario nuevo. Decidieron regresar a su antigua casa porque es mejor malo conocido que bueno por conocer.

22. Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente

Literal translation: The shrimp who falls asleep is washed away by the flow

A funny Spanish phrase with a similar meaning to “you snooze, you lose” in Engish. In other words, if you don’t pay enough attention and act quickly, someone else will get there before you.

  • She was distracted and missed the chance to meet her favourite singer; as the old saying goes: you snooze, you lose – Ella estaba distraída y perdió la oportunidad de conocer a su cantante favorita. Como dice el viejo refrán: camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

23. Tener mala leche

Literal translation: To have bad milk

In most Spanish speaking countries, the phrase “having bad milk” means having bad luck. We should mention that the Chileans have another meaning for this expression, since they use it to describe a person who is “bad-tempered” or “moody”. If you want to use it in this way, you’ll need to change the verb “tener” to “ser”.

For the below example, we’ll use it to express bad luck.

  • After the divorce, Andrés lost his job and all his money. What bad luck the poor guy has! – Después del divorcio, Andrés perdió su trabajo y todo su dinero. ¡Que mala leche tiene el pobre hombre!

24. Estar loco como una cabra

Literal meaning: To be as crazy as a goat

Even if you’re convinced that goats are crazy, this one is easy to understand. It’s a simple, yet funny Spanish phrase used to describe a person as crazy, stupid, or out of their mind.

  • He is thinking about climbing Mount Everest, but he has no experience with it, he’s nuts! – Él está pensando en subir El Monte Everest pero no tiene ninguna experiencia, está loco como una cabra.

25. Tirar / echar los perros a alguien

Literal meaning: To throw the dogs at somebody

A phrase used to express the action of flirting or making your romantic interest to someone obvious.

  • Manuel had flirted with her for ages, but she never liked him – Manuel le había echado los perros desde hace tiempo, pero a ella nunca le gustó

26. Dar (la) lata

Literal meaning: To give the can

Honestly, I can’t think of a similar expression in English.

This one is used when something or someone either makes you angry, or annoys you or bores you.

  • Jessica’s sister always bothers her, saying the same thing over and over again –  La hermana de Jessica siempre le da lata, diciendo lo mismo una y otra vez

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Did we miss any common, funny Spanish phrases?

Comment below with your favorites!

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