10 May 2020

10 Spanish idiomatic expressions with hair

What’s one of the best things about learning Spanish? All the fun, new idioms you can learn! Spanish expressions are a great way to get a better idea for the culture and make you sound more like a native speaker. What does it mean to take someone’s hair? Or talk about something with hair and signs? Read on to find out.

Lady holding hairdryer to the side of her head while her hair flies in one direction across her face
Spanish idiomatic expressions with hair

1. Soltarse el pelo

Just like you would say in English, this Spanish expression about letting your hair down means the same thing. When you let your hair down you loosen up, become disinhibited. It can also be used to talk about someone who’s normally shy that takes time to warm up to being comfortable around new people.

Después de estudiar para tantos exámenes, tengo que soltarme el pelo. ¡Vamos a bailar!
After studying for so many exams, I need let loose. Let’s go dancing!

2. Tomar el pelo

When you’re playing a trick or joking around with someone in Spain, you’re “taking their hair”. In English, we say to pull someone’s leg.

- Mirella, he ganado la lotería!
- ¡Ostras! En serio?
- No tía. Te estoy tomando el pelo.

-Mirella, I won the lottery!
-Oh my goodness! Seriously?
-No man. I’m just pulling your leg.

girl on chair with money flying around her
I won the lottery! (Not really, I'm just taking your hair)

3. No cortarse un pelo

When someone “doesn’t cut a hair” it means that they’re not embarrassed or afraid to say or do what they think – they don’t hold back. This Spanish expression is usually used to describe people with little self-control who dive right into situations without thinking first.

Juan se tiró al agua del borde del acantilado sin siquiera mirar. ¡Ese tío no se corta un pelo!
Juan jumped into the water from the edge of the cliff without even looking. That guy doesn’t hold back!

4. No tener pelos en la lengua

Someone who doesn’t have hair on their tongue means that they may speak in a vulgar way or perhaps they that say things directly that might offend others. It’s similar to the expression above, except that it only relates to things you say and not actions.

Marta no tiene pelos en la lengua. ¡Le dijo a esa señora que su camiseta era muy fea!
Marta doesn’t beat around the bush. She told that lady her shirt was very ugly!

Man looking at camera with his tongue sticking out
No tener pelos en la lengua

5. Se te va a caer el pelo

When someone tells you your hair is going to fall out, you can expect a punishment coming your way; you’re going to be in real trouble!

Has suspendido la clase de inglés por segunda vez. Cuando papá lo sepa, ¡se te va a caer el pelo!
You failed English a second time. When dad finds out, you’re going to get it!

6. Ni un pelo de tonto

Someone who doesn’t even have one fool’s hair means that they are smart and cannot be fooled.

No intentes engañar a la profe Lucia – ella no tiene ni un pelo de tonta.
Don’t try to deceive the teacher Lucia – she’s nobody’s fool.

Woman with impression that she's not impressed
Lucia no tiene ni un pelo de tonta... she's nobody's fool.

7. Con pelos y señales

If you talk about something “with hair and signs”, you go into all the details.

¡Cuéntame de tu cita con Daniel con pelos y señales!
Tell me all the details about your date with Daniel!

8. Por los pelos

When we almost arrive late, almost miss a train or almost win or lose something, the difference is so small that we describe it by using the tininess of hair. It’s the same as in English: by a hair.

El atleta ganó la carrera por los pelos.
The athlete won the race by a hair.

Closeup of horse hooves running on grass
The horse won the race by a hair.

9. Venir al pelo

Imagine that you’re walking through a desert, sweating profusely and desperately thirsty. Suddenly, an oasis appears in the distance! To say that this is perfect for the situation at the time you would say it “came to a hair” in Spanish. Basically, it’s just right.

Me vino al pelo ver a mi amigo Gerardo, que está siempre sonriendo y bromeando, cuando me estaba sintiendo triste. Me hizo sentir mucho mejor.
Seeing my friend Gerardo, who’s always smiling and joking, was perfect when I was feeling sad. He made me feel much better.

10. Cuando las ranas críen pelo

What’s the likelihood that you’ll see a frog with hair? A flying pig? Chances are, never. This Spanish expression is used after an idea or statement that is impossible.

- Quizás me despertaré temprano mañana para ir a correr.
- Sí, por supuesto. Cuando las ranas críen pelo!

-Maybe I’ll wake up early tomorrow morning to go running.
Ya, sure. When pigs fly!

Woman holding onto balloons flying in the sky
When frogs grow hair (something impossible)