Expressions with animals in Spanish
Spanish has an incredible wealth of idioms and colloquial expressions, which you will hear in any spontaneous conversation you may have with your Spanish family or with the locals during your language course in Spain. An example of this cultural aspect are the numerous idioms that include animals. Today, our team at MundoLengua invites you to discover their favorite animal-related expressions used in Cervantes´ native language.
Will you be able to guess the meaning of these set phrases?
We hope you will be like a lynx! (see below)
Llevarse como el perro y el gato, by Yaye Baena.
(lit. Get on like a cat and dog) – everyone knows that the relationship between these two animals is not very good… We can also use this for people, and it is used a lot among friends and for those who perhaps are not quite as friendly.
-They have very different personalities, despite being brothers, they get on like cat and dog.
Estar como una cabra, by David Hirsch
(lit. To be like a goat). Well, an expression that I´m often told is – “David is like a goat.” Obviously , they are not calling me a goat (at least I hope). This expression is used to tell someone that they are a bit crazy. In the good sense of the phrase, I must say I agree with its comparative.
Ser un lince, by Isabel Martín
(lit. to be a lynx) This expression means that you are a bright and lively person, who has their wits about them; essentially it refers to someone with a lot of intuition and a sixth sense.
No ver tres en un burro, by Noemi Diez
(lit. To not see three in a donkey) We use this expression to say that we cannot see anything at all, that we have problems with our vision/sight.
-Where is Miguel de Cervantes street? No idea, at night time I cannot see three in a donkey (I cannot see anything at all).
Llorar lágrimas de cocodrilo/ ser lágrimas de cocodrilo, by Irene Catalán
We tend to use this expression when we do not believe someone else´s tears and sadness as they pretend in order to inflict pain on others and to receive sympathy.
The origin of the expression: crocodiles cry when they devour their prey and when they are out of the water due to the fact that their glands are close to the jaw and their eyes need to be moist.
-I do not believe him at all. They are crocodile tears, he always tends to pretend in these situations.
No buscar tres pies al gato, by Alexander Cockerham
My expression is “do not look for three feet on a cat” (lit.) it is used when someone complicates a situation unnecessarily. For example:
-I don´t really understand the work I´ve been give. I don´t know what to do.
-Don´t look for three feet in a cat and ask your boss to explain it to you again.
Ser un/una rata, by María González
(lit. to be a rat) It is said of a person who is very stingy and wants to spend as little money as possible, even at the risk of them being rude.
–Should we go to the cinema tomorrow?
-Yes, not only is it the “cinema festival” the ticket only costs €2.90
-To be honest with you I find it still a little expensive… Would you be able to pay for me?
–You are such a rat.
Ser más raro que un perro verde, by Nuria Buitrago
(lit. To be more strange than a green dog) It is used to describe something or someone who is a little unusual, they exceed norms with their extravagance.
-He always says that he does not like music, nor literature… He is stranger than a green dog.
Matar dos pájaros de un tiro/matar dos pájaros de una pedrada, by Aurore Michelin
(lit. to two birds with one stone) I find this Spanish expression very amusing! It means to get lots of results from a single action. It can occur through saving time and energy, or by coincidence.
-I have come to the doctors to be vaccinated. Could I ask you to repeat my previous prescription, and for you to give me a general check up. This way I will kill two (or three) birds with one stone.
Estar más feliz que una perdiz, by Pascal Fischer
(lit. To be happier than a partridge) My favorite Spanish expression is “to be happier than a partridge” and it refers to a person that is very happy. I´ve been able to use it a lot lately when people ask me:
-“Pascal don´t you want to go back to Switzerland?”
-“With there being no snow in Andalusia I am happier than a partridge ;)”
Tener la memoria de pez, by Stefanie Kempf
(To have the memory of a goldfish) It means you have a bad memory and the expression originates from the idea that fish have such a bad memory span that they are only able to remember things for 3 seconds.
-Yesterday I went to the supermarket to by three things and I came home with only one of them… this is when my husband told me I have the memory of a goldfish.
The funny thing is that it seems that fish having a bad memory is a bit of a myth and there are even studies that prove it. Therefore, from now on, if someone tells me I have the memory of a goldfish I will have to take it as a complement. Am I right?
Comer como un oso, by Antonio Cuaresma
(lit. To eat like a bear) It is when you pig-out (animal pun intended) on food and you eat and eat without stopping. This is because when bears wake up from their hibernation they are very hungry, and they eat and eat without stopping.
-We got to the bar, we ordered some tapas and he began eating like a bear. He had a ferocious appetite.
Did you like our list of animal-related Spanish expression? Which is your favorite?