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Home » Language Resources » Popular Spanish Sayings » Letter D

Spanish Sayings - Letter D

Popular Spanish Sayings

Saying: Dar en el clavo
English: To hit the nail on the head
Comments and History: This action can be associated with hammering which could not be further from the true meaning of the saying.

Previously there was a child game called "milestone", which consisted of fixing a big nail into a rod at a certain distance from the participants who, from their place, threw iron arrows, with those hitting the milestone winning the game.

As the target was usually iron, the expression came to be used in another sense, meaning finding a solution to something complicated or difficult.

Saying: Dar gato por liebre

English: Pig in a poke
Comments and History: If there's one thing that has not changed over the centuries it is, without a doubt, the bad name hostels have received with respect to the quality of their food.

Universal literature is full of allusions, many ironic, to the quality of the food offered in these lodgings.

The discredit of these places was so strong that it became common among guests to place a spell, before eating, on the recently-cooked meat.

Si eres cabrito, manténte frito; (if you are a kid, stay fried)
si eres gato, salta del plato. (if you are a cat, jump off the plate)

Of course, this "exorcism" never proved the truthfulness of this legend, but it did give rise to the expression dar gato por liebre, which in time came to be known in popular language as meaning a malicious lie for which something inferior in quality is given under the illusion of something perfect.

Saying: Dar un cuarto al pregonero
English: To shout it from the rooftops
Comments and History: The image of the town crier has existed for many years, even since the Roman period.

Town criers have existed in Spain at least from the 15th century, and were oddly divided into three parts: oficiales, who worked for the Administration; heraldos, who would walk ahead of the nobility to announce the latter's arrival, and commercial voceadores, who were commissioned by anyone to proclaim services or news.

The usual price of the last category was a "un cuarto", a unit of money that was worth four Maravedis, so dar un cuarto al pregonero (giving a cuarto to the town crier) meant paying for his services. In time, the sentence has acquired a completely different meaning: condemning the revelation of something, for what ever reason, should not be made public.

Saying: Dársela con queso (a alguien)
English: To put one over on someone
Comments and History: A long time ago, the presence of rodents presented a great threat to people living in cities, because of the diseases they carried.

It was very common to hear the expression armarla con queso (fight it with cheese) in reference to rat catchers, who used cheese to catch them.

The saying dársela con queso came to be used metaphorically in colloquial language to mean bait, "scheming" or "cheating", by which someone attracts another to do something to them, so this expression is interchangeable with caer en la trampa - fall into the trap. 

Saying: De par en par
English: wide open
Comments and History: expresses the idea that the doors are completely open, without any obstacle in our way. Comes from when doors and windows were in two parts (i.e. double doors).

Saying: De puño y letra
English: by his/her own hand
Comments and History:Used to establish authority of a document, so state who wrote/signed it.

Saying: De tal palo, tal astilla
English: like father, like son
Comments and History: Used to make a comparison between members of the same family. Its origin is from the phrase a tal padre, tal hijo, included by Petronius in his "Satyricon".

Saying: Desvestir a un santo para vestir a otro
English: to rob Peter to pay Paul
Comments and History: Means how people must stop doing one thing to do another - even though they're equally important.

Saying: Donde las dan, las toman
English: one sows evil, one will reap it
Comments and History:Whoever causes danger will normally get it themselves.

Saying: Dorar la píldora
English: To sugarcoat something
Comments and History: Medicine has always been regarded as having an unpleasant taste.

In modern times, pills are coated with sugar to make the taste nicer, resorting to dorar la píldora (goldening the pill) so it seems more attractive.

From this comes the expression dorar la píldora, which we use in everyday language to describe what we do when we make something bad seem better.

Saying: Dormir la mona
English: to sleep off a hangover
Comments and History: To get rid of a hangover by sleeping.

Alphabetical index of Popular Sayings

A - 9 Sayings

A buen puerto vas por leña
A caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes

B - 6 Sayings

Bailar con la más fea
Bajar la guardia

C - 9 Sayings

Cada loco con su tema
Caiga quien caiga

E - 13 Sayings

El hilo de la vida
El mismo que viste y calza

F - 2 Sayings

Favor con favor se paga
Fumar la pipa de la paz

G - 4 Sayings

Gajes del oficio
Gastar saliva

H - 7 Sayings

Hacer la vista gorda
Hacerse agua la boca

I - 5 Sayings

Ir de mal en peor
Ir de punta en blanco

L - 9 Sayings

La espada de Damocles
La excepción hace (o confirma) la regla

M - 5 Sayings

Más cale maña que fuerza
Mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos

N - 6 Sayings

No faltaba más
No hay dos sin tres

O - 3 Sayings

Obras son amores y no buenas razones
Ojo por ojo, diente por diente

P - 6 Sayings

Pagar los platos rotos
Parar el carro

Q - 5 Sayings

Quemarse las cejas (o las pestañas)
Querer es poder

R - 2 Sayings

Rasgarse las vestiduras
Roma no se hizo en un día

S - 6 Sayings

Sólo se vive una vez
Salir el tiro por la culata

T - 6 Sayings

Tal para cual
Tener ojos en la nuca

U - 1 Sayings

Una de cal y una de arena

V - 5 Sayings

Vamos al grano
Venir como anillo al dedo