The Spanish are gifted when it comes to describing their fellow human beings, especially when a negative slant is required! Need to describe someone as tight, crazy, annoying, or sneaky? There’s a laser-guided phrase for every occasion, designed to cause maximum impact with minimum words. This is the real Street Spanish you’ll need next time you want to fit in with (or be rude about) the locals in a hurry.
Watch the video above, and find all the phrases listed below:
1. ¡Eres un rata!
You are really tight, stingy, mean
Literally, ‘you are a rat!’ This expression is used for people that are really tight, stingy, or mean with their money. E.g. ‘Juan es un rata, siempre se asegura de no dejar ni un céntimo de más’, meaning, ‘Juan is really stingy, he always makes sure he never leaves a cent too much’.
2. Eres un chorizo
You’re a thief!
‘Chorizo’ is of course a kind of spicy sausage, but it is also used in slang for either a full-blown thief, or someone who just steals little things all the time.
3. Eres un buitre
You are a vulture!
For people who always grab most of the free stuff first (like free food and drink at a party), or try to live off hand-outs from others.
4. Es un cantamañanas
‘Cantamañanas’, literally ‘sing-mornings’, is used for people who don’t keep their word, or brag a lot without substance.
5. Ese niño da mucha guerra
That kid is a pain in the neck
Literally, ‘that kid gives a lot of war’, this phrase is used for someone that requires lots of attention, and gives you a real headache.
6. ¡Qué listo eres!
You’re a clever one!
As well as being used as a compliment, this is also often used ironically, in a sarcastic tone of voice, to mean ‘you are too clever for your own good’.
7. ¡Qué espabilado eres!
To kids: You’re so clever! To adults: You sneaky git!
Adults say this lovingly to children when they seem clever for their age. But adults also use it negatively with each other, when a friend exploits a situation for his or her own benefit. For example, when your friend is quickest to take the most comfy seat for watching TV!
8. Esa chica está zumbada
That girl is crazy
Cool kids pronounce this without the last ‘d’: ‘zumba’o’.
9. Está como una regadera
He’s totally crazy
‘Regadera’ means watering can! We’re not sure what the connection is!
10. Este chico va a su bola / Este chico va a su aire
This kid does his own thing
This is used for people who are very independent and generally do what they want, when they want, and usually on their own.
11. Está en Babia
He’s lost in his own world
This phrase comes from a tale about one of Spain’s ancient kings, who used to go hunting in an area in the north-west of Spain, called Babia. When people asked to see the king for advice or help, his servants would say, ‘He’s off in Babia’, and that’s the origin of the phrase we use today.