10 Mexican Proverbs and Idioms – MOTW5

Do you know what it means when someone puts cream on their tacos in Spanish? Hopefully, this episode will make that phrase and nine other ones clear to you as we look at ten Mexican proverbs and idioms.

1. Echar la casa por la ventana.

Literally: To throw the house out through the window. Idiomatically: To splash out on a party.

2. Árbol que nace torcido, jamás su rama endereza.

Literally: A tree born twisted will never straighten its branches. Idiomatically: A leopard can’t change its spots.

3. Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

Literally: A sleeping prawn will be carried away by the current. Idiomatically: You snooze, you lose.

4. Colgar los tenis.

Literally: To hang up your trainers. Idiomatically: To kick the bucket.

5. Cuando el río suena, agua lleva.

Literally: When you can hear the river, there’s water in it. Idiomatically: There’s no smoke without fire.

6. Echarle crema a tus tacos.

Literally: To put cream on your tacos. Idiomatically: To blow your own trumpet.

7. Hablar sin pelos en la lengua.

Literally: To talk without hairs on your tongue. Idiomatically: To speak frankly.

8. La gota que derramó el vaso.

Literally: The drop that made the glass overflow. Idiomatically: The straw that broke the camel’s back.

9. El mundo es un pañuelo.

Literally: The world is a handkerchief. Idiomatically: It’s a small world.

10. La misma gata, pero revolcada.

Literally: The same cat rolled around. Idiomatically: Same song, different tune.


  • The Sevens Seas Dictionary of Proverbs and Idioms by yours truly. A dictionary I put together a couple of years ago on about a hundred of these tricky little phrases.
  • Las vueltas del Citrillo – a film directed by Felipe Cazals and set at the beginning of the twentieth century in Mexico City. The dialogue uses expressions typical of the period and lots of proverbs.

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