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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

‘Drunk as a clam’: How to say you’ve had too much to drink in Spanish

Many languages have original and funny expressions to refer to the act of being under the influence, and Spanish is no exception to this. 

'Drunk as a clam': How to say you've had too much to drink in Spanish
There are many different ways to say that someone is drunk in Spanish. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

One of the first words you learnt in Spanish may have been borracho/a (drunk), not necessarily because you’re inclined to a tipple or two, it’s just a word that comes up often in conversation together with beber (to drink), cerveza (beer), vino (wine) and resaca (hangover).

But if you want to take your boozy Spanish vernacular to the next level and learn some expressions that will get you a few laughs and impress the locals, buckle up and bottoms up because you’re in for a treat. ¡Salud!

Cogerse un pedo/Estar pedo – To grab a fart or to be fart

This is the most common colloquial way of referring to a drunken episode in Spain. 

Pedo, apart from being the noun for fart in Spanish, is also the word for a bender, so if someone shouts ¡menudo pedo!, they’re not necessarily paying tribute to the wind they’ve just passed. 

Equally important in these cases is to not mistake the verbs you use, as tirarse un pedo or echarse un pedo (to throw) is the correct way of referring to actually farting. 

If it’s a monumental bender and you want to emphasize that, you can swap pedo for pedal

Use it like this: 

Acuérdate de no conducir si te vas a coger un pedo.

Remember not to drive if you’re going to get drunk.

Ponerse ciego/Llevar un ciego – To get blind drunk/To carry a blind person

Here’s an expression which has its exact English equivalent: blind drunk. It seems that loss of sight due to severe inebriation knows of no linguistic barriers. It’s worth noting however that in Spain you can also get blind with food or anything else you consume in excess.

Use it like this:

He aprobado el examen así que esta noche me voy a poner ciego a margaritas.

I’ve passed the exam so tonight I’m going to get blind drunk on margaritas.

Estar como Las Grecas – To be like Las Grecas

It’s an oldie which refers to Spanish psychedelic flamenco duo Las Grecas, who had the smash hit in the 70s “Te estoy amando locamente” (I’m loving you madly).   

The gipsy sisters were famed for having some pretty wild parties, so the expression can also be used to refer to someone under the influence of drugs. 

Use it like this: 

¿Cuántas llevan ya? ¡Están como Las Grecas! 

How many have they had? They’re wasted!

 

Llevar una castaña – To carry a chestnut 

Although castaña is usually used to refer to a chestnut, in old Spanish it also meant a recipient used to store liquids, and in modern colloquial Spanish a castaña can also mean a knock or blow. 

You can also say tener una castaña (have a chestnut), cogerse/pillarse una castaña (grab a chestnut), all of which mean to get very drunk. 

Use it like this: 

Anoché me pillé una castaña. ¡Menuda resaca!

I got sloshed last night. What a hangover!

Ir cocido – To be boiled

No secret to this one, you’ve got enough alcohol running through your bloodstream to be boiled over the kitchen hob like a beer-infused bratwurst. 

Use it like this:

Juan va cocido, se ha bebido media botella de ron. 

Juan is bladdered, he’s drunk half a bottle of rum. 

Photo: Tricia/Flickr

Ir piripi – To be tipsy 

This one’s is hard to find a literal translation for as the word derives from a term that no longer exists – piripitulia, an alcoholic drink. We initially thought it referred to a trumpet sound as that’s the kind of silly thing that people who are getting increasingly drunk would do. 

There’s also the verb pimplar, which means to drink excessively. 

Use it like this: 

¿Vas piripi ya? ¡Si no te has bebido ni media cerveza!

Are you already tipsy? You’ve not even drunk half a beer yet!

Estar mamado – To be sucked or breastfed

If there’s dribble oozing from your mouth from all the alcohol you’ve had, this is a suitable expression to use in Spanish.  

Use it like this:

¡Paso de ese borracho! ¿Va super mamado!

I couldn’t care less about that drunkard! He’s sloshed!

Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Estar morado – To be purple or bruised

As purple as the grapes that you’ve just consumed in fermented format, or as bruised as the grapes that were pressed to death for your enjoyment. Either way, here’s another colourful way of referring to someone who is pretty leathered. 

Use it like this:

Nos hemos tomado cuatro botellas de vino así que estamos bastante morados.

We’ve had four bottles of wine so we’re pretty bladdered.

Estar (borracho) como una cuba – As drunk as a barrel 

Apart from the name of the Caribbean country famed for its rum, cuba is also the word for a wine barrel or another recipient used to store liquids, usually alcoholic ones. Therefore, if your behaviour is resembling that of a booze-packed barrel rolling down a hill, this Spanish expression is appropriate. 

Use it like this:

¡Está más borracha que una cuba! No deja de balbucear.

She’s absolutely sloshed! She won’t stop slurring. 

how to say drunk in spanishPhoto: Michal Jarmoluk/Pixabay

Llevar una cogorza encima – to carry a funerary banquet

Nowadays cogorza is only used to refer to a drunken episode but in 15th century Spanish cogorça was a funeral banquet where it was already customary to drown one’s sorrows.

Use it like this:

¡Menuda cogorza que lleva encima! No se mantiene ni en pie.

He’s absolutely plastered. He can’t even stand up.

Borracho como una almeja – As drunk as a clam 

British English has the expression as drunk as a skunk (perhaps because of the alliteration), but this expression in Spanish perhaps makes a bit more sense as it compares the tanked person in question to a mollusc that is constantly imbued in liquid. 

Use it like this:

¿No te acuerdas de nada? Bueno, ibas borracho como una almeja.

You can’t remember anything? Well, you were as drunk as a skunk. 

Photo: Elmer Geissler /Pixabay

Dormir la mona – To sleep the monkey

Here’s how Spanish people refer to sleeping in after getting trollied the night before.

Pintar la mona, which in its literal sense means to paint the monkey, is also an expression Spaniards use to say they’re wasting time or procrastinating.  

It’s not 100 percent clear what the origins of this bizarre expression is but it’s more likely that it has something to do with a card game than with bringing a monkey home for a nap or some finger painting.

Use it like this: 

Mañana es domingo así que voy a dormir la mona hasta que me de la gana. 

Tomorrow is Sunday so I’m going to sleep the bender off to my heart’s content. 

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SPANISH HABITS

¡Salud! The different ways to say cheers in Spanish

You may be familiar with the basic way Spaniards say ‘cheers’, but there are other Spanish expressions and habits associated with clinking glasses and making a toast that you’ll be happy to learn.

¡Salud! The different ways to say cheers in Spanish

Life in Spain comes with plenty of get-togethers and celebrations, and although alcoholic excesses are not generally part of the Spanish culture, booze will be a part of almost all social occurrences.

If you’re a foreigner who’s made Spain their new home, it’s therefore important to familiarise yourself with the language and idiosyncrasies that are part of such occasions.

Let’s start with the word for a toast, in the sense of honouring someone or something with a drink.

The noun for this is un brindis, which apparently originally comes from the German ‘bring dirs’, meaning ‘bring thee’ (as in, I’ll ‘bring thee’ a drink, a speech, etc.). There’s also the verb brindar, which means to toast.

So if you want to give a toast in Spanish, you should start off by saying me gustaría proponer un brindis por… or me gustaría brindar por… (I’d like to make a toast for) and once you’ve finished your speech you should raise your glass and for example say ¡Por los novios! (for the newlyweds) or ¡Por Juan! (for Juan!).

When it comes to clinking the glasses, Spaniards will often use the interjection chinchín, an onomatopoeia which pays heed to the sound, but it’s really the same as saying cheers.

The most common word used in Spanish to say cheers is ¡Salud!, which means ‘health’, in the same way as the French say santé and the Germans gesondheid. Spaniards may also direct their toast specifically at the person they’re drinking with by saying ¡A tu salud! (To your health!). 

You may be happy to learn that Spaniards don’t take the custom of looking into the other person’s eyes while clinking glasses or drinking quite so seriously as in other European countries, where the failure to do so carries the penalty of seven years of bad sex (ouch!).

A quick glance at the person you’re cheering with will go down well, however, as direct eye contact is the standard in social situations in Spain.

READ ALSO: Why does the birthday person pay for everyone’s food and drinks in Spain?

What is considered to bring bad luck in the bedroom is toasting with a non-alcoholic drink in Spain, so consider yourself warned.

Catalans have an interesting version of the Spanish cheers – ¡salut i força al canut! – which translates to ‘Cheers and strength to the purse’ in order to wish health and wealth, although some people wrongly assume it’s meant to wish people good virility.

While we’re on the subject, there is a very common cheering expression used in Spanish to do with rumpy pumpy.

After cheering, whether by raising a glass or clicking glasses, many Spaniards will then take their glass and quickly place it down on the table before lifting it again to take a swig.

Bemused foreigners will then be reminded that el que no apoya, no folla, ‘the one who doesn’t place it (the glass) down, doesn’t have sex’.

Does it make it any sense? Nope, but it does get a few laughs, and before long you’ll find yourself quickly tapping the base of your drink against the table through force of habit.

Another interesting habit that foreigners in Spain tend to find amusing is when a group of friends in a circle move their glasses in four different directions whilst saying ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro y para dentro!, which means ‘up, down, to the centre and inside’, the latter being when you drink.

So there you have it, ¡Salud a todos! (Cheers to everyone!)

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