Top Five Favorite Spanish Expressions

To be perfectly honest, my very favorite Spanish expressions are kinda “offensive” to society; therefore, I will refrain from posting them on here. I should have named this post my top five favorite PG-rated Spanish expressions. Either way, here they are.

“Que tonto eres”

It literally translates to “What a fool you are” or “Fool, you” or “Silly.” But in Spain, they normally use it to mean fool. It’s just a universal Spanish language expression, but certain things kind of sound better or/and funnier to me when pronounced by a different group of people. Those two different groups for me are Spaniards and Argentinians. I love their accents! One, Argentinian, sounds sweeter; the other, Spanish, sounds more aggressive, more straightforward.

One of the teachers with whom I worked in Spain totally over-used this expression—she called the boys tontos about a dozen times each week. I know what you’re thinking; rude, wrong. But that’s who they are. I thought it was so funny that I made the expression a running joke with my brother and his Spanish girlfriend. Nobody was insulted.

“Tío macho”

This particular colloquial expression is interesting because the masculine form of the Spanish word for uncle is tío. However, in Spain only, the slang “tío” is the equivalent of the American slang dude. The female variant is tía (aunt). Now, the word macho means nothing but male (though it could also mean tough guy, depending on the context). Tío is already masculine, so there wouldn’t be a need for the word macho to accompany it. I don’t know the exact reason, but I’m guessing that the two combined words, “tío macho,” are meant to show emphasis on anger or excitement.

Some Spaniards also use Tío and macho alone interchangeably. These slangs can typically be heard in conversations between two dudes—I guess because “tía macha” wouldn’t work as well. :-D. I heard this expression mostly from upset guys. For example, if their soccer team was losing, they’d scream “¡Jo…tío macho!” It’s a funny thing how slangs make their way in our everyday language.

“Me da igual”

Literally, igual means the same or similar. But a person may say “Me da igual” to mean that they don’t care, they can care less.  Spanish people use this expression in their everyday conversations.

It’s interesting because growing up I remember this expression having some sort of negative connotation. It’s silly that I thought of it that way. Maybe it resulted from the fact that I couldn’t say it to my elders, like my mom, because they’d think I was defying them. Or it just suggests different things in different cultures. So I didn’t use it as much when I was young. In Spain, however, I was reminded of its actual meaning—it’s no big deal—so I brought it back. Sometimes I combine it with the next expression.

Maja (majo)!

“Me da igual, maja.” It works! 🙂

The word maja apparently has its history and origins in Madrid and it has to do with the way people dressed and acted in early XIX century (which also helped me figure out why the printing on my mom’s face-powder, called Maja, from back in the days had a woman dressed in a Spanish dress holding a Spanish fan). But the maja definition to which I refer now is the one that in English translates to nice, pleasant, and kind.

When I lived in Northern Spain, in Valladolid, its usage was very common. When thanking someone, they’d respond with a “¡Nada, maja!” When greeting someone, “¡Hola, maja!” Or “¡Hasta luego, maja!” They also used it in sentences like, “Que chica tan maja” (what a nice girl). But, in southern Spain, it seems that it’s not as common.  I also like any word with the letter J because Spaniards pronounce their J’s very interestingly. They put a lot of emphasis on it, almost sounding as if they were about to cough, and I just find the sound of it so curious.

“Vas a flipar”

This expression is very new in Spain. My six grade students used it way too much. In fact, it’s more of a youngsters’ vocabulary. If someone says to you “vas a flipar,” it means that you’re going to be very shocked, amused, disgusted, or whatever adjective of emotion you can think of with a touch of exaggeration. It’s the same as “you’re going to flip out” in English. It might actually be a form of Spanglish that has crossed over to Spain as more and more American television series are being aired there.

I think idioms make the boring language rules more bearable.

Do you have any favorite Spanish expression you’d like to share?


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