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Home » Language Resources » Popular Spanish Sayings » Letter E

Spanish Sayings - Letter E

Popular Spanish Sayings

Saying: El hilo de la vida
English: The course of life
Comments and History: According to Greek mythology, the Parcae or Moirai - gods of life and death - were three sisters, daughters of Nix, personification of the night: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.

These were the controllers of fate. Each of them had a specific task: Clotho was in charge of putting it together; Lachesis or Laquesis rolled it up and Atropos, the implacable, cut it when that person's life was coming to an end.

The thread of happiness was made of white wool; that of misfortune was black wool, and those person who had gone through both were formed with a mix of wool.

The expression el hilo de la vida - thread of life is used today to mean fragility, weakness and breakability of our life.

Saying: El mismo que viste y calza
English: the very same
Comments and History: A sentence confirming the identity of the person we're speaking to.

Saying: El oro y el moro
English: All this and heaven too
Comments and History: The origen of this saying is from a group of knights from Jerez during the Reconquista wars.

These knights managed to capture fifty Moors, among whom was Abdullah, mayor of Ronda, and his nephew, Hamet.

The mayor was released with the payment of money, but none of the others, not even Hamet, was released, despite the efforts of the king himself, Juan II de Castilla.

The knights -particularly the wife of one of them- demanded the payment of 100 dobles (Castillian currency) for their release.

The king ordered Hamet to be moved to the Corte, but because of the disagreement between the king and the knights, the town soon coined the phrase "quedarse con el oro y el moro" - keep your gold and the moor.

Over time, this phrase is used to denote someone who is asking for too much.

Saying: El que rompe, paga
English: you break it, you buy it
Comments and History: Places responsibility for something on whoever uses it.

Saying: El tiempo de las vacas gordas/flacas
English: Years of plenty
Comments and History: According to the bible, sometimes the Pharoah had a worrying dream: he saw how seven fat cows were devoured by skinny ones.

Disconcerted by such a sight, he called his fortune-tellers, but none could interpret it.

Finally the Phraoah called Jose, son of Jacob and Raquel, who was a prisoner in one of the Pharoah's prisons, and he explain to the Pharoah that the seven fat cows symbolized the next seven years, which would be prosperous, while the seven skinny cows represented shortage and poverty.

The phrase el tiempo de las vacas gordas refers to a period of material wealth, while the phrase el tiempo de las vacas flacas means the opposite.

Saying: En casa del herrero, cuchara de palo
English: the shoemaker's son always goes barefoot
Comments and History: When something lacks consistency or explanation in the face of such obviousness.

Saying: En menos (de lo) que canta un gallo
English: before you can say Jack Robinson
Comments and History: Means "very quickly", without anyone realizing what happened, like the rooster who sings very early, at dawn, very quickly.

Saying: Entrar con el pie derecho
English: To start off on the right foot
Comments and History:Refers to something that has started in favorable conditions.

Saying: Estar entre la espada y la pared.

English: to be between a rock and hard place
Comments and History:To be in a delicate situation, without any obvious exit, like the former swordsmen who found themselves between their opponent and a wall.

Saying: Estar a la cuarta pregunta
English: To be flat broke
Comments and History: Prevoiusly in judicial investigations, there were four questions to the interviewee: are you healthy?, are you clever?, are we lovers?, and the feared fourth question: do you have money?

Apparently they answered yes to all but the fourth question.

When the investigation involved a poor person, he always said no to question four.

Saying: Estar como pez en el agua

English: to be in one's element
Comments and History:To feel comfortable in a place or situation. 

Saying: Estar en Babia
English: To have one's head in the clouds
Comments and History: Babia is a region in the province of León, Spain, quite unfertile and far from populated areas where today there are important marshes for hydraulic power.

During the Middle Ages, the kings of Leon chose this area as a getaway from the problems of the court - to unwind.

The King's absences often provoked worry in his subjects when they were told the king was in Babia.

The expression became colloquial and came to be used to describe someone with a lack of interest in something, or lack of concentration.

These days we use it to say someone is distracted.

Saying: Esto es Jauja
English: This is the life!
Comments and History: Jauja is the capital of the Peruvian province of Junín, famous for its fertile soil and its inhabitants' good health.

During the colonisation period it was a place of rest, especially for those with respiratory problems, and its fame spread to Spain.

The writer Lope de Rueda, influenced by the news of this place, gave the name Jauja to a fictious city called "La tierra de Jauja", in which he describes it as a place of gold, where money grows on trees.

The fantasty stuck, and esto es Jauja and vivir en Jauja mean to be in a great place.

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

D - 11 Sayings

Dar en el clavo
Dar gato por liebre

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