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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Flipar

Here’s a word that you’ll hear a lot in casual conversation with Spaniards and which can have negative and positive connotations. Learn it and you'll be one step closer to sounding like a local. ¡Vas a flipar! (You're going to love it!).

Flipar can also be used to describe shock, adoration and more in Spanish.
Flipar is a verb that can be used to describe shock, adoration and more in Spanish. Photo: Niamat Ullah/Unsplash

Flipar is a fantastic Spanish verb which has several meanings.

It can be used to describe something that you’re crazy about or very fond of, similar to ‘me encanta’ (I love) but not in a romantic sense. 

Example: 

Me flipa la música reggae.

I’m mad about reggae music. 

It can also be used to describe a situation in which you’re in awe of something, in shock or disbelief, for both negative and positive surprises.

Example:

¡Estoy flipando! No me creo que hayan roto.

I’m speechless! I can’t believe they broke up.

Or

Hemos flipado con lo buena que es jugando al baloncesto.

We can’t believe how good she is at playing basketball.

Similarly, if someone is getting ahead of themselves, you can use flipar to tell them to calm down and stop daydreaming. 

Example:

¿Acabas de empezar a aprender a hablar castellano y quieres ser profe de español? ¡No te flipes!

You’ve just started learning Spanish and you want to be a Spanish teacher? Don’t get carried away!

On the same note, you might hear Spaniards just say ‘¡Flipa!’ which is somewhat like saying ‘Can you believe it?’ or ‘Crazy!’ as an interjection in English.

Flipar can also be used to describe someone who is under the influence of drugs, in which case Spanish speakers often say ‘flipar en colores’ (literally meaning ‘tripping out in colours’), presumably alluding to some colourful acid trip. 

But this expression is used more often than not to describe behaviours or comments which would indicate that someone is not thinking straight, behaving almost as if they were drugged. 

Example:

¡Estás flipando en colores! ¿Cómo te vas a ir a vivir a la Patagonia?

You must be mad! How are you going to live in Patagonia?

And to round things off, there are a couple of other Spanish words with the flip- root you should learn as well.

There’s the word flipado or flipada, which describes someone who is overly confident in their abilities, or who is extremely passionate about something, so again it depends on the context to understand whether it’s good or bad. 

Example:

Ese tío es un flipado, se cree Bruce Lee.

That guy is full of himself, he thinks he’s Bruce Lee.

Or

Carlos es un flipado de los videojuegos, hasta compite en torneos.

Carlos is video game-crazy, he even competes in tournaments. 

And finally there’s flipante, an adjective which describes something that’s astonishing or amazing, usually in a good sense. 

Example:

Es flipante que Nadal haya ganado el Australian Open después de perder los dos primeros sets.

It’s unbelievable that Nadal won the Australian Open after losing the first two sets.

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘No dar un palo al agua’

What do a stick and water have to do with working in Spain?

Spanish Expression of the Day: 'No dar un palo al agua'

One of the main clichés foreigners perpetuate about Spaniards is that they’re work-shy hedonists with a “mañana mañana” attitude towards any sort of responsibility.

Even among Spaniards themselves, there are regional stereotypes about southerners that claim they’re all vagos (lazy), especially those from Andalusia and the Canary Islands. 

Studies have actually shown that people in Spain work longer hours than Germans and other northern Europeans, so it’s understandably frustrating for many Spaniards to hear the same stereotypes regurgitated again and again.

Without a doubt, there are idle people in Spain, just like anywhere else in the world. So what’s one way to describe this laziness in Spanish?

No dar un palo al agua, which in its literal sense means to ‘not hit the water with a stick’. 

In fact, it’s the equivalent of saying in English ‘to not lift a finger’, ‘to never do an ounce of work’ or ‘to do sweet FA’ (FA standing for ‘fuck all’, or Fanny Adams, but that’s another story). 

Even though we initially thought that this Spanish metaphor drew a parallel between not being able to do something as simple as throwing a stick in a lake or a river, the origins of this saying are actually from the world of sailing.

Sailors who weren’t willing to put in the work and let everyone else do the rowing were called out for loafing around and told ¡No das un palo al agua!, in the sense that their oars (the palo or stick refers to the oar) weren’t even touching the water. 

So the next time you want to describe the fact that someone is not pulling their weight, remember this interesting Spanish expression. You can also use the shortened version – ‘no dar ni palo’.

It’s an expression which is widely used in all manner of settings (including formal ones), so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone, apart from perhaps the person who you are describing as working very little or not at all. 

Examples:

Pedro no da un palo al agua. Se pasa el día en las redes sociales aunque haya un montón de trabajo que hacer.

Pedro doesn’t lift a finger, he spends his days on social media even if there’s loads of work to do.

¡No das un palo al agua! ¡Eres un holgazán! ¡A ver si te pones las pilas!

You do sweet FA! You’re a right lazybones! Get your arse in gear!

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