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Cortar el bacalao – Misunderstood Expression of the Week

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“Cortar el bacalao” is the Spanish equivalent of ‘to call the shots‘ – meaning ‘to be in charge. ´However, cortar means ‘to cut’, and bacalao is a fish – cod, in fact – so the expression literally means ‘to cut the cod‘. A variation is “partir el bacalao“, which means essentially the same. Hence, “el que corta el bacalao” o “la que corta el bacalao” (as in, “Mi mujer es la que corta el bacalao“) is the person in charge,…

Ponerse las botas – Misunderstood expression of the week

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“Ponerse las botas“. This one is a slightly tricky one… Literally, “ponerse las botas” means ‘to put one’s boots on‘, but the expression actually means… several things. The most common meaning of “ponerse las botas” is ‘to eat a lot’ . However, the expression underlines the enjoyable nature of eating in a way that can hardly be translated, possibly due to the cultural differences between Spain and England (if I ask you to think of Spanish culture, you will probably think “paella”,…

No tener dos dedos de frente – Misunderstood expression of the week

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“Tener dos dedos de frente” is a common Spanish phrase used to say that someone is smart and levelheaded. As you might have guessed, “no tener dos dedos de frente” means the exact opposite: ‘not to be very smart‘ or, as Donald Trump would say, ‘to be dumb as a rock‘. The literal meaning, however, is ‘not to have a two-finger forehead‘ (in other words, to have a forehead that measures less than two fingers – placed sideways – in…

Montar un pollo – Misunderstood expression of the week

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“Montar un pollo” means, literally, ‘to ride a chicken‘, so the expression can seem quite surprising at first (to say the least). As it turns out, “montar un pollo” is actually a widely-used idiom meaning ‘to make a scene‘. For instance, “Mi profesora ha montado un pollo porque he llegado tarde a clase” translates as ‘My teacher made a scene because I was late to class’. This unusual idiom actually derives from “montar un poyo“. A “poyo”, with Y, is…

How is Christmas celebrated in Spain?

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It’s that magical time of year again when the streets are filled with lights, decorations and people shopping for gifts. It’s that time of year when children’s eyes shine with enthusiasm and we all become a little bit more cheerful, more solidary. Christmas is a time in which we all seek to enjoy with our loved ones, reunite with family and old friends, and share family traditions.