Your Favorite Spanish Sayings Make No Sense in English

When these Spanish sayings are translated to english, they make no sense!

Graphic by Esmeralda Torres/ SAC.Media

If you’ve grown up in a Spanish speaking household, you know that a ton of phrases in Spanish have the strangest translations in English. We’re going to point out some of the strangest ones that literally make no sense.

Te esta poniendo los cuernos

If you’ve heard this before, you know it basically means that the person who you’re in a relationship with is cheating on you, or you’re telling someone that their partner is cheating on them.

The translation: Put the horns on someone

Sana sana colita de rana, si no sana hoy, sanará mañana

Now I just know you’ve heard this one before. This phrase is widely used in the Latinx community to provide encouragement to a child when they’ve fallen or gotten hurt. There were lots of sana, sanas in my childhood. Ultimately, the little song is a distraction from the pain. Also, you get a little extra attention from abuela.

Gif from Giphy.

The translation: Heal, heal frogs tail, if you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow

Ponte las pilas

This phrase is widely used to provide encouragement to someone, basically telling them to get it together and get moving. When you hear your parents telling you “ponte las pilas”, you know you need to hustle.

The translation: put your batteries in


This phrase is usually used to tell someone to watch out or be careful, but many times it is used in a variety of ways in random sentences.

The translation: Waters!

Estoy Pedo

This phrase is used to emphasize how drunk someone is. When you hear estoy pedo, you know they have had a little too many. This phrase is not to be confused with the phrase: ¿Que pedo? which means: what’s up?

Gif from Giphy.

The translation: I’m fart

No manches/ mames

This phrase is used to say no way, or to tell someone to stop messing with you.

The translation: don’t stain/don’t suck

Hija de tu madre

This phrase is mostly used as an insult, oftentimes from your own mother or abuela. It is used in the context of someone who is upset with you, sort of like the Spanish version of son of a gun.

¿Que rollo?

This phrase is another way of saying what’s up.

Gif from Giphy.

The translation: What roll?

Que hueva

This phrase is a way of expressing your laziness or not wanting to do something.

The translation: what egg

Echar los perros

This phrase is a way of telling someone that they think he or she has the hots for you, or is flirting with you.

Gif from Giphy.

The translation: Throw the dog

Que codo

This phrase describes someone who is stingy or doesn’t like to spend any money. It is similar to the English version tightwad.

The translation: what elbow

Mandalo por un tubo

This phrase basically means to ignore or ghost someone, not pay attention to them at all. This is usually in the context of someone rejecting a suitor.

Gif from Giphy.

The translation: throw them to a tube

Entre la espada y un pared

This phrase is used to describe being stuck in a difficult position that is hard either way. It is the Spanish version of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The translation: between a sword and a wall