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Misunderstood Expression Of The Week – ‘No hay tu tía’ – there is no aunt

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We use ‘No hay tu tía’ when we want to say there is no solution or the situation is hopeless.

This expression has a very interesting origin when ‘tutía o atutia’ – a medicinal ointment used mainly to treat eyes sickness was introduced during the Arabic times around 1,000 years ago.


The product, whose name comes from the Arabic al-tutiya, was a mix of zinc oxide and other metal salts and was very effective in healing different ophthalmic illnesses.

The therapeutic fame of this mixture was extended so fast that people started to believe it was a universal remedy that could heal any sickness, so it started to became the answer for everything.

It was held in such powerful belief that whenever there was an illness that did not have a remedy it was said: “no hay tu tía” which meant there was no hope of healing – even with the miracle medicine.

Although people stopped believing in the healing virtues of ‘tutia o atutia’ a long time ago, the expression has remained in the Spanish language although in recent times the expression changed to “no haber tu tía”, even though there is no connection with this relative.

I hope you enjoyed my blog!

Conchi Rodriguez

Vamos Let's Learn Spanish. Spanish courses in London. Spanish courses in Valencia.

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  1. Vanora

    That’s so interesting! Thank you.