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13 handy Spanish expressions to do with hair

Has someone ever told you that they're taking your hair or that you don't have one hair of a fool? Here are 13 useful idioms related to hair which are used in daily conversation in Spain.

13 handy Spanish expressions to do with hair
Spanish expressions to do with hair. Photo: Ryan McGuire / Pixabay

Por los pelos: ‘By the hair’ in its literal sense is used to say that someone has managed to get out of a complicated situation at the last moment and with great difficulty. It’s similar to the English sayings ‘by a whisker’, ‘a close shave’ or ‘in the nick of time’. 

Example: Llegamos por los pelos, un minuto más tarde y no hubiésemos cogido el tren. – We arrived in the nick of time, one minute later and we wouldn’t have caught the train.

Tirarse de los pelos: ‘Pull your hair out’ is used in a similar way to the English expression to show when someone is stressed out or exasperated. 

Example: Se está tirando de los pelos porque no compró boletos de lotería y a sus vecinos les tocó El Gordo. – He’s pulling his hair out because he didn’t buy lottery tickets and his neighbours won the Christmas lottery. 

Tirarse de los pelos is used when someone is pulling their hair out. Photo: Klaus Hausmann / Pixabay

De medio pelo: ‘Of half hair’ indicates that something or someone is not as good as it’s/they are made out to be, they’re mediocre, small-time or second-rate.

Example: Es un empresario de medio pelo por mucho que presuma, todos sus negocios han fracasado. – As much as he shows off, he’s a second-rate businessman, all his ventures have failed. 

Tomar el pelo: ‘Taking the hair’ is a very common expression in Spanish which is similar to ‘pulling someone’s leg’ in English, meaning that you’re joking with them. 

Example: ¿Me estás tomando el pelo? No se de qué hablas. – Are you pulling my leg? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

No tener pelos en la lengua: ‘To not have hairs on your tongue’ refers to being outspoken, direct and saying what’s on your mind.

Example: Marta no tiene pelos en la lengua. Si algo no le gusta, lo dice. – Marta doesn’t mince her words. If she doesn’t like something, she says it.  

Sin pelos en la lengua means you are very outspoken. Photo: Ale Hidalgo / Pixabay

No fiarse ni un pelo: ‘To not even trust a hair’ is used when someone wants to say that you should not trust anything about a specific person or situation. 

Example: No te fies ni un pelo de él, es un estafador. – Don’t trust him one bit, he’s a scammer.

Ni un pelo de tonto: ‘Not one hair of fool’ is a way of flattering someone’s intelligence by saying that they are alert and intelligent enough not to be fooled in any way. 

Example: Marcos no tiene ni un pelo de tonto, sabe lo que hace. – Marcos is no fool, he knows what he’s doing. 

Ponerse los pelos de punta: ‘Put your hair standing on end’ is used in a similar way to the English expression to say that someone is so terrified or freaked out, that their hair stands on end.

Example: Se me ponen los pelos cuando veo películas de terror. – My hairs stand on end whenever I watch horror films.

Con los pelos de punta. Photo: Brigitte Werner / Pixabay

No cortarse un pelo: ‘To not cut one hair’ is used when someone has no shame or embarrassment in doing or saying something and they jump right in or dive in head-first.

Example: Yo no me corto un pelo. Si hay que quejarse, yo soy el primero. – I don’t hold back. If we have to complain, I’ll be the first to do so. 

To not cut one hair really means to not hold back in Spanish. Photo: Engin Akyurt / Pixabay

A pelo: This expression is used in several ways. It could be bareback as in riding a horse without a saddle, but it could also mean uncovered or unprotected, such as skinny dipping or unprotected sex. Another way to use it is when you want to say that someone ‘is left to their own devices’. 

Example: Ni se te ocurra hacerlo a pelo. Aquí tienes un condón. – Don’t even think having unprotected sex. Here’s a condom. 

Se te va a caer el pelo: ‘Your hair will fall out’ is used as a warning to somebody who’s done something wrong or mischievous that they going to receive a punishment for.

Example: Se te va a caer el pelo cuando se lo diga a mi amigo el policia. – You’re going to get it when I tell my friend the police officer.

Soltarse el pelo: ‘Let your hair down’ is used in Spanish as it is in English, meaning to let go or liberate yourself. 

Example: Suéltate el pelo y sal a bailar con la chica. – Let your hair down and go dance with the girl.

De pelo en pecho: ‘Of hair on chest’ is a way to refer to someone who’s very masculine or manly in Spanish. 
Example: Ya no eres un niño, estás hecho un hombre de pelo en pecho. – You’re not a boy anymore, you’re a proper man. 

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¡Me cago en! Seven things Spaniards verbally defecate on 

Barça’s Gerard Piqué stained his farewell match by getting sent off after telling the ref “I crap on your b*tch mother”. As harsh as it may sound, this kind of swearing is far from uncommon in Spain. Here’s what else Spaniards verbally defecate on.

¡Me cago en! Seven things Spaniards verbally defecate on 

Profanities are both routine and widely accepted in most social situations in Spain.  

Whether it’s mierda (shit), coño (c**t) or puta (bitch), pretty much anything goes.

Swear words tend not to carry as much clout as they do in English, so much so that calling someone a clown (payaso) or an imbecile (imbécil) can often cause more offence.

Not everyone in Spain has a potty mouth though, so don’t feel obliged to start hurling palabrotas (swear words) to sound like a local. It also depends on how the obscenity is delivered. 

READ ALSO: How to ‘swear’ politely in Spanish

One of the most colourful habits Spaniards have when it comes to swearing is the expression me cago en… (I shit/crap on…). They use it to express frustration or anger about something, or if it is followed by the possessive adjective tu (your), it’s more likely to be an insult directed at someone.

Although what you choose to verbally defecate on is completely up to you, there are some particularly evocative expressions that Spaniards use very often. 

I crap in the milk – Me cago en la leche

As weird and off-putting as this may sound, Spaniards ‘crap in milk’ a lot. It’s a bit like saying ‘shit’ or ‘damn’ to express disappointment about something.

I crap on the Virgin – Me cago en la Virgen

As you will see in this list, blasphemy and defecation go hand in hand, and as the Virgin Mary is important to Catholic Spain, she often gets brought up. Spaniards also ‘crap’ on the Almighty when saying me cago en Dios.

I crap on the sacramental bread – Me cago en la hostia 

Shouting ¡hostia! (communion wafer!), as in the host that Catholics eat during mass, is part and parcel of the daily lingo in Spain when something surprises or angers you. With that in mind, it’s logical that Spaniards also express their intent to crap on sacramental bread when they get frustrated.  

I crap on your dead relatives – Me cago en tus muertos

Here’s where things start to get personal. Verbally defecating on someone’s ancestors is a way to let them know that you’re very disappointed with them. Again, it all depends on the context, but more often than not it won’t cause too much offence, especially if they deserve it. 

I crap on your molars – Me cago en tus muelas

If you don’t want to mention the person’s deceased family members, you can avoid this by instead crapping on their molar teeth. It’s a euphemism given that muelas (molars) and muertos (dead people) start with the same syllable.

I crap in the salty sea – Me cago en la mar salada

We know what you’re thinking, as if the sea needed any more toxic waste dropping into it. This poetic expression is another euphemism, this time to avoid expressing what Gerard Piqué said about someone’s madre (mother), which could well be considered the worst insult in Spain. 

READ MORE: What’s the worst possible insult in the Spanish language?

I crap on your bitch mother – Me cago en tu puta madre

It’s not a mental image anyone of us wants but bizarrely this is a widely used insult in Spain. People also replace the madre (mother) with padre (father), although they usually drop the puta for that. Remember that this is an offensive expression in most people’s eyes and it could involve an unpleasant reaction. Saying me cago en la puta (I crap on the bitch) is different as it’s not aimed at someone’s mother. 

READ ALSO: ¡Joder! An expert guide to correctly using the F-word in Spanish