Many words are easily forgotten—but not when they’re cute!
The Spanish phrases here will have you saying “awww” all day long.
You’ll have your conversation partners wanting to pinch your cheeks.
Plus, there’s no better way to make your Spanish sound authentic than to adopt the most adored phrases in the Spanish language. Go ahead and transform yourself into the bilingual butterfly you are destined to become.
Why Learn Cute Spanish Phrases?
It’s time to make Spanish your own with some choice phrases that are near and dear to your heart. There is indeed power in cuteness.
There were so many fantastic Spanish phrases that I thought I’d never end up using because I didn’t feel natural when saying them. Now I can’t keep them from coming out!
Call me a Spanish language nerd, but there’s something so exhilarating about finally making Spanish your own. But, just like a new pair of shoes, you have to really “break a phrase in” before you start feeling that it’s yours.
With the upcoming list of cute phrases, you can use the old “fake it till you make it” approach. Everyone feels like an impostor while trying to become fluent in a new language, and even more so at the beginning.
And believe me when I say that “cute” was the last thing I felt when I first began to find my footing with Spanish conversation.
So, don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable throwing these phrases into conversation at first. I can promise you that if you use them enough they’ll eventually become second nature—and you’ll get a little cuter every time!
Gain some confidence!
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30 Cute Spanish Phrases to Make You Sound Adorable
1. Encontrar su media naranja
Translation: To find your half orange
Meaning: To find your other half or your soulmate, the person who complements you perfectly
Estoy segura de que esta vez en Javier he encontrado mi media naranja. Él es exactamente lo que necesito.
(I’m sure that this time I’ve found my other half with Javier. He’s exactly what I need.)
A similar expression in Spanish is encontrar la horma de su zapato (to find the mold of your shoe). By “mold” I mean the cardboard filler that you pull out of a new pair of shoes after you’ve bought them. Still cute, but I prefer media naranja.
2. Buscar las cosquillas
Translation: To search for the tickles
Meaning: To look for ways to annoy someone; to look for someone’s weak spot
¡No me busques las cosquillas! Estoy muy irritada y no quiero que me molestes.
(Quit messing with me! I’m really annoyed and I don’t want you to bother me.)
Yo le busqué las cosquillas a mi hermano, pero no conseguí que reaccionara.
(I tried to tease my brother but couldn’t get any reaction out of him.)
Search for the tickles?! Really, it doesn’t get much cuter than that.
3. Estar en su (propia) salsa
Translation: To be in your (own) sauce
Meaning: To be in your element
Estoy en mi propia salsa en el nuevo trabajo. El arte me apasiona mucho y ahora me pagan para pasar todo el día dibujando.
(I’m in my element at the new job. I’m very passionate about art and now I’m paid to spend all day drawing.)
This is perhaps my favorite of all these cute phrases because it evokes some pretty hilarious images. Here’s another Spanish phrase that also has to do with sauce…
4. Ser el perejil de todas las salsas
Translation: To be the parsley of all the sauces
Meaning: An unwelcome, nosy person who gets into everyone’s business
Enrique se mete en todo y quiere saber todo. Es el perejil de todas las salsas.
(Enrique sticks his nose in everyone’s business and wants to know everything. He’s a meddling nuisance.)
In Spanish cuisine, parsley is an herb widely used to make all different kinds of salsas. That is, it tends to find its way into every sauce just like a nosy person might manage to get involved in other people’s lives.
5. El mundo es un pañuelo
Translation: The world is a handkerchief
Meaning: Similar to our “it’s a small world after all,” this expression is used when people run into each other in a strange or faraway place
Hoy me he encontrado con una antigua compañera de la universidad en el supermercado. Vive en Georgia pero está de vacaciones en Madrid. ¡El mundo es un pañuelo!
(Today I ran into an old friend from college at the supermarket. She lives in Georgia but she’s on vacation in Madrid. It’s a small world after all!)
6. Cruzar el charco
Translation: To cross the puddle
Meaning: To cross the ocean, especially the Atlantic
En 2013 crucé el charco para vivir en España y no he vuelto todavía.
(In 2013 I traveled across the Atlantic to live in Spain and I haven’t returned since.)
Muchos jóvenes de hoy sueñan con cruzar el charco porque creen que en América encontrarán una vida con más oportunidades.
(A lot of young people today dream of crossing the ocean because they believe that they’ll find a life with more opportunities in America.)
It’s quite cute and silly to think of the Atlantic as an obstacle as small as a puddle, but in our modern, globalized world, it’s not too far from the truth!
7. Haber cuatro gatos
Translation: There are four cats
Meaning: When there’s practically no one inside of a place
Íbamos a ir al bar nuevo que acaban de construir en mi barrio, pero solo había cuatro gatos así que decidimos ir al mismo sitio que siempre.
(We were going to go to the new bar that they just built in my neighborhood but it was practically empty so we decided to go to our usual spot instead.)
8. Echar el gancho
Translation: To throw the hook
Meaning: To make someone fall in love with you by seducing them, to capture someone
Irene le echó el gancho al hermano de Miguel el año pasado y este año se casan.
(Irene seduced Miguel’s brother last year and this year they are getting married.)
La policía le ha echado el gancho al ladrón.
(The police have captured the thief.)
9. Hablar por los codos
Translation: To talk through the elbows
Meaning: To talk non-stop, to talk too much
Su hermana es una chica muy pesada. Habla por los codos y no hay quien la pare.
(Her sister is annoying. She talks so much and there is no one who can stop her.)
Some similar phrases are hablar como los loros (to talk like parrots) and enrollarse (to run your mouth.)
10. Faltarle un tornillo
Translation: To be missing a screw
Meaning: To be a little crazy/deranged, to have a screw loose, to be one fry short of a happy meal, a few strings short of a racket, off your rocker, etc.
La semana pasada conocí a un chico muy raro. Me parece que le falta un tornillo porque a los diez minutos me pidió matrimonio.
(Last week I met a strange guy. I think he’s a little deranged because he asked me if I wanted to marry him ten minutes into our conversation.)
11. Estar entre Pinto y Valdemoro
Translation: to be between Pinto and Valdemoro (two Spanish villages)
Meaning: To be indecisive when faced with choosing between two or more options
Sobre este asunto yo estoy entre Pinto y Valdemoro. (I’m undecided concerning this matter.)
Mis padres todavía no han decidido si me van a dejar ir de vacaciones con mi amiga. Están entre Pinto y Valdemoro y no saben si darme luz verde o no.
(My parents still haven’t decided whether or not they’re going to let me go on vacation with my friend. They’re undecided and don’t know whether to give me the green light or not.)
Pinto and Valdemoro are two villages in the province of Madrid that used to be separated by a very narrow stream. It’s said that in Pinto there was a drunk that would go to the stream with his friends in the afternoon and jump from one side to the other yelling “now I’m in Pinto, now I’m in Valdemoro.” One day he fell in the water and said “now I’m between Pinto and Valdemoro.”
12. Ir de la Ceca a la Meca
Translation: to go from Ceca to Meca
When you’re running around all day non-stop
Me pasé todo el día yendo de la Ceca a la Meca para encontrar un regalo especial para mi hermano, pero al final no lo encontré.
(I spent all day running around trying to find a special gift for my brother, but in the end I didn’t find one.)
Como no sé donde están las cosas en el nuevo supermercado, voy de la Ceca a la Meca para cualquier cosa.
(Since I don’t know where things are in the new supermarket, I have to run around for everything.)
While some say this phrase may have been created simply for its rhyming quality, others think it may have something to do with the actual locations as a symbol of going from the material to the spiritual. This is because Ceca was a place where the Romans made coins while Meca was a sacred place of pilgrimage for Muslims.
13. Irse por los cerros de Úbeda
Translation: to go through the hills of Úbeda
Meaning: To ramble on about something completely off-topic, to suddenly change the topic or respond with something that has nothing to do with the conversation, to make “bunny trails”
Él siempre se va por los cerros de Úbeda en la clase hablando de temas que no tienen nada que ver con el debate.
(He always goes off topic/makes bunny trails in class talking about things that have nothing to do with the discussion.)
Yet another phrase connected to a location, this one comes from the days of the Reconquista.
It’s said that one of the Christian king’s captains disappeared before combat against the Muslims, only to arrive afterwards with the excuse that he had gotten lost in the hills of Úbeda. The soldiers and the court then perpetuated the phrase as a sign of cowardice.
14. Salir de Málaga y entrar en Malagón
Translation: To leave Málaga and enter into Malagón
Meaning: To leave a bad situation only to enter into an even worse one
Vender esa casa y comprar esta fue como salir de Málaga y entrar en Malagón.
(Selling that house and buying this one has put me in an even worse situation than the one before.)
The Spanish suffix -ón is one of many Spanish augmentatives (the opposite of diminutives) for expressing that something is big. In this way, we know that Malagón is referring to Málaga but bigger (in this case meaning a bigger problem than the one before).
Using augmentatives and diminutives is quite fun and pretty adorable as well!
Similar expressions are:
- salir de Guatemala y entrar en guatepeor (leave Guatemala and enter into Guate”worse”)
- escapar del trueno y dar con el relámpago (escape the thunder and get hit by lightning)
- saltar de la sartén al fuego (jump from the pan to the fire)
15. Írsele el santo al cielo
Translation: To have the saint go up to heaven
Meaning: To lose your train of thought, have a brain fart, draw a blank, space out, have your head in the clouds
Quería decirte algo en relación con la fiesta pero se me ha ido el santo al cielo y no me acuerdo. Te lo diré cuando me acuerde.
(I wanted to tell you something related to the party but I’m drawing a blank. I’ll tell you when I remember.)
It’s possible that this phrase comes from a priest who began to talk about worldly things because he had forgotten what saint he began talking about.
16. Llegar y besar el santo
Translation: To arrive and kiss the saint
Mefaning: To achieve something really easily, have beginner’s luck, do on the first try
Conseguir el nuevo trabajo ha sido llegar y besar el santo. Han dicho que puedo empezar el lunes.
(Getting the new job was really easy. They said I can start on Monday.)
This phrase may find its origin in the satisfaction of a pilgrim who makes a long and tiring journey by foot to arrive at a church and kiss the saint they are devoted to.
17. Matar el gusanillo
Translation: To kill the little worm (the Spanish suffix -illo is a diminutive suggesting smallness)
Meaning: To eat a snack before a meal to kill hunger pains
Dentro de una hora comemos con nuestros amigos. Pero como tengo mucha hambre, comeré unas galletas saladas para matar el gusanillo.
(We’re having lunch with our friends in an hour, but since I’m really hungry I’ll eat some crackers to satiate my hunger.)
This phrase is said to come from France. It originates from a popular belief that there are little worms inside the human stomach that demand food, especially around lunchtime. It’s for this reason that aguardiente (a type of liquor) is consumed in the morning to kill them or at least put them to sleep.
Cute or disgusting? You decide.
18. Ser un cero a la izquierda
Translation: To be a zero to the left
Meaning: To be completely irrelevant and unimportant
A la hora de decidir las cosas siempre hacéis lo que queréis y mi opinión no se toma en cuenta. Parece que para vosotros soy un cero a la izquierda.
(Whenever we decide something you guys always do what you want and my opinion isn’t considered. It seems like I’m completely irrelevant to you guys.)
Just like a zero means nothing when put to the left of a number instead of to the right, a person who is a “zero to the left” is pretty useless.
19. Cruzársele los cables
Translation: To cross your cables/wires
Meaning: To suffer momentary confusion, get mixed up, lose control
No quería decirle a Maricarmen lo de su novio pero en un momento se me cruzaron los cables y le conté lo que quería ocultar. No sé qué me pasó.
(I didn’t want to tell Maricarmen the thing about her boyfriend but at some point I lost control and told her what I wanted to hide. I don’t know what happened to me.)
If wires cross in a machine, a short-circuit is produced and the machine stops working. In this saying, the wires could refer to our nerves.
20. Apretarse el cinturón
Translation: To tighten one’s belt
Meaning: To be more frugal with finances
Como he perdido el trabajo, a partir de hoy tendré que apretarme el cinturón para sobrevivir hasta que encuentre otro.
(Since I’ve lost my job, from now on I’ll have to be frugal to survive until I find another.)
“Tightening the belt” would be quite literal for me if I was in a financial bind, since most of the money I carelessly spend ends up going towards food and alcohol. I’m what Spanish-speakers would call golosa (gluttonous).
21. Pasar al otro barrio
Translation: To go to the other neighborhood
Meaning: To kick the bucket/pass away
No conduzcas tan deprisa. No quiero pasar al otro barrio antes de que me llegue la hora.
(Don’t drive so fast. I don’t want to kick the bucket before it’s my time to go.)
22. Pegársele a alguien las sabanas
Translation: To have the sheets stick to oneself
Meaning: To be unable to wake up
Perdón por haber llegado tan tarde. Es que llegué a casa a las cinco de la mañana y se me han pegado las sabanas.
(Sorry for arriving so late. I arrived home at five in the morning and had trouble waking up.)
It wasn’t my fault—the sheets stuck to me!
23. Quemarse las pestañas
Translation: To burn one’s eyelashes
Meaning: To burn the candle at both ends, to study or read a lot
Para aprobar el examen de matemáticas tuve que quemarme las pestañas.
(I had to burn the candle at both ends in order to pass the math test.)
This phrase was used historically to refer to the fact that one had to read by candlelight and quite literally burn their eyelashes when they got too close to the flame.
24. Meterse a alguien en el bolsillo
Translation: To put someone in your pocket
Meaning: To win someone’s approval, to have someone in the palm of your hand
Yo me he metido al profesor en el bolsillo, tiene muy buena opinión de mí.
(I’ve got the teacher in the palm of my hand. He has a really good opinion of me.)
El actor fue increíble—se metió a todos en el bolsillo.
(The actor was incredible—he had everyone in the palm of his hand.)
25. Devolver la pelota
Translation: To return the ball
Meaning: To fight fire with fire
Le devolveré la pelota a Juan en cuanto pueda. Lo que me hizo es imperdonable.
(I’ll get back at Juan when I can. What he did to me is unforgivable.)
26. Cortar el bacalao/tener la sartén por el mango
Translation: To cut the cod/to have the pan by the handle
Meaning: To be the one in charge
Mi madre siempre ha sido la que corta el bacalao en nuestra casa.
(My mother has always been the one who gives the orders in our house.)
In the past, cod was cut in the fish market with a very sharp knife that required both strength and skill to handle. For this reason, the boss was normally the one to cut the cod.
No te opongas al jefe. Él tiene la sartén por el mango y puede decidir si te despide o no.
(Don’t oppose the boss. He’s the one in charge and can decide whether or not he fires you.)
27. Tener las manos largas
Translation: To have long hands
Meaning: To have “sticky fingers” or to be a violent person
Mi hija tiene las manos largas. Cada vez que ve a otro niño, le pega.
(My daughter is very violent. Every time she sees another child, she hits them.)
Mi amiga tiene las manos largas. No es capaz de entrar en una tienda sin robar algo.
(My friend has sticky fingers. She’s incapable of entering a store without robbing something.)
It’s not their fault—they just have long hands!
28. Tener buena percha
Translation: To have a good clothes hanger
Meaning: To have a good figure
Como tiene muy buena percha, a Cristina todo le queda fenomenal.
(Since she’s got such a good figure, everything looks great on Cristina.)
It’s silly to think of humans as clothes hangers, but that’s exactly what this phrase likens us to!
29. Tirar la casa por la ventana
Translation: To throw the house out the window
Meaning: To spend way more money than you can afford to, to spare no expense
Esta primavera no vamos a viajar a ningún sitio porque en Navidades tiramos la casa por la ventana y ahora nos toca apretarnos el cinturón.
(This spring we aren’t traveling anywhere because we went all out during the holidays and now it’s time for us to save money.)
This phrase originates from the 17th century when the lottery was established by Carlos III. During that time, it was tradition for those who won the lottery to throw old furniture and other household items out the window to begin their new lives of wealth.
30. Vivir en el quinto pino
Translation: To live on the fifth pine tree
Meaning: To live out in the middle of nowhere, in the boondocks
Mis amigos ya no me visitan ahora que me he comprado una casa en las afueras de la ciudad. Dicen que vivo en el quinto pino.
(My friends don’t come visit me anymore now that I’ve bought a house in the outskirts of the city. They say I live in the boondocks.)
So, you now have 30 seriously cute phrases you can add to your Spanish repertoire.
That’s a lot of cuteness to handle all at once!
Keep this list on hand, and whenever you want to wow your friends with just how adorable you can be in Spanish, try one out.
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