Crossed fingers, four-leaf clovers, rabbit feet, horseshoes and red underwear.
There is certainly no shortage of lucky charms, but while we hope those trinkets ward off bad luck, it certainly helps to hear it or wish it on someone else from time to time.
All languages and cultures have their own expressions, beliefs, rituals and charms to attract luck. The Spanish culture is no different!
In fact, my abuela (grandmother) believed no hay mal que por bien no venga (there is no bad that does not bring good).
This common Spanish expression about luck and misfortune was actually one of the first Spanish expressions I ever learned!
If I fell down and scraped my knee or dropped my bowl of plantains on the floor, it was seemingly okay because apparently bad luck always brings something good with it—at least according to my Spanish grandmother.
She never let a chance slip by to remind me that luck influenced every aspect of my life.
This is just a glimpse of how muy importante (very important) luck is in the Spanish culture!
But let’s face it—everyone wants good luck, good fortune and success. And we all want to see those we care about have those things too, right?
Wishing someone luck is a gesture of support that is often expressed wholeheartedly. Expressing this kindness and hope can also help to garner closer relationships or create an instant rapport.
There is more than one way to say “good luck!” in Spanish, though.
So, let’s check out some luck-worthy situations and learn their appropriate luck wishing expressions!
Spanish Beliefs About Luck
What is considered a special good luck charm or even a sign of good luck to come in one Spanish-speaking country might be no big deal in another.
By taking a closer look at some Spanish beliefs about luck—and the charms that assist in bringing on this phenomenon—you will gain a glimpse of some intriguing Spanish customs, which will only connect you deeper to the language and culture.
In Mexico, good luck charms are often called milagros (miracles) and come in the form of small religious charms. The charms, which are often made of metal, can be affixed to a place or just carried or worn by the one who is looking for an upswing in their fate.
They are believed to improve fortune, heal and keep evil at bay. Milagros are not used only in Mexico, however. Some Latin American countries, as well as some places in the United States, adhere to the belief that milagros carry great power.
Wishing someone good luck in Spain can be an interesting exchange. It is not unusual to wish or have someone wish onto you, mucha mierda, which translates to “lots of crap.” This expression is equivalent to the English phrase, “break a leg.”
In Spain, wearing red underwear is thought to bring good luck in finding a mate. Some say it applies only on New Year’s Eve, but others feel it works year-round. I actually heard about this custom in a lingerie shop in Madrid—and they did have quite a lovely assortment of red lingerie for sale in that shop!
Originating in the Almeria province of Spain, Indalo Man is a figure who represents luck and hope. He was first discovered drawn on a cave wall—a piece of ancient art from thousands of years ago—and today is a widely-recognized lucky symbol!
Wherever you are, luck and good fortune are part of the day-to-day in most Spanish-speaking locations. From religious medallions to colorful undergarments, luck is part of the culture.
Learning some expressions to acknowledge or wish someone luck are certainly good additions to your growing Spanish vocabulary.
And who knows, by wishing others luck and good fortune, you might, in turn, attract your own luck and become an afortunado (lucky person).
How to Say “Good Luck!” in Spanish
¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)
This is the basic expression for wishing someone luck. It is a generic phrase that covers just about everything.
If you are leaving a shop and about to walk out into the rain, the shopkeeper may say, “¡Buena suerte!” and tell you to try and walk between the raindrops.
Going on a first date?
Buying a used car?
You can pretty much wish someone luck on anything!
¡Buena suerte con tu nueva casa! (Good luck with your new home!)
¡Buena suerte con tu nuevo novio! (Good luck with your new boyfriend!)
¡Buena suerte en tu nuevo trabajo! (Good luck on your new job!)
¡Buena suerte en tu primer día de trabajo! (Good luck on your first day of work!)
La mejor de las suertes. (The best of luck.)
This is also a pretty standard expression, and one that you might hear many times during the course of a week when you are in a Spanish-speaking country.
Que tengas buena suerte. (May you have good luck.)
This construction is a bit more formal. It is useful in less casual situations, like with someone you just met for the first time or in a business setting.
Que tengas mucha suerte. (May you have a lot of luck.)
Telling someone to have a lot of luck is like wishing them an abundance of good fortune!
¡Cruzaré los dedos por ti! (Fingers crossed for you!)
Crossing your fingers for someone (or even yourself) expresses hope and the wish for something to happen in a favorable way. This expression is widely used in the English language, as well.
When someone is attempting a new venture, activity or even just pressing on through a difficult time, this short yet encouraging expression expresses warm wishes for a successful outcome.
Que te salga bien. (I hope it goes well.)
This is another expression that applies to situations where someone has undertaken an activity that does not automatically come with assured success.
¡Qué suerte! (What luck!)
You might hear this when someone seems exceptionally fortunate.
Did a neighbor narrowly miss being hit by a bus?
Did the opposing soccer team score just before the final buzzer to win the game?
¡Te deseo lo mejor del mundo! (I wish you the best of this world!)
This is a very enthusiastic expression of luck and well wishing. When used between family members or close friends, it can be a very heartfelt and sincere wish.
¡Éxito! (Wish you success!)
Less commonly used than some of the other expressions, this concise expression of good wishes is helpful to know. It rolls off the tongue effortlessly and is great with a hand wave as you are taking your leave.
¡Dale duro! (Hit it hard!)
Thinking of heading to the beautiful country of Puerto Rico? Then, you will likely hear this regional idiom that not only wishes someone good luck but encourages them to do their very best!
Wishing well and good luck in Spanish is a kind and positive way to connect with other Spanish-speakers. These simple phrases are also easy to use in so many commonplace and everyday scenarios.
Next time the opportunity arises, try out one of these good luck expressions and make someone’s day!