(More) Spanish words for a new year

I have been busy with other things of late, haven’t taken time to post, and admit I write today mostly to keep this URL from oxidizing, or sprouting green fungi. I may have more to hold forth about later in the year.

In the meantime: another installment of favorite words and sayings in español:

Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. ‘The devil knows more by being old than by being the devil.’ I’m old and creaky enough now to vouch for the wisdom in this saying. Stick around, keep your eyes open and you’ll recognize patterns that might have eluded you in your salad days.

Ser como el perro del hortelano. A Spanish friend here had a boyfriend who wouldn’t commit, but became fiercely jealous if she dated other men. That’s acting like a ‘perro del hortelano,’ after Lope de Vega‘s eponymous 1618 play.

Dar papaya. A Colombian expression for an injudicious display of wealth. He who swaggers into a city’s worst bar with glittering Rolex and jewelry está dando papaya.

Buenismo / buenista. The buenista insists on seeing the world as a more benevolent place than is suggested by evidence. Not unlike ‘seeing the world through rose colored glasses,’ but weightier, and with a wider scope … and perhaps likelier to spring from the lips of a do-badder who seeks philosophical cover for shoddy conduct.

Discapacitado capilar. The Spanish equivalent of ‘follicly challenged,’ shared with resigned humor by a fellow Madrid baldie.

Matasanos. For a quack doctor. Literally, ‘kills the healthy.’

Lameculismo. English has ‘ass kisser’ for ‘lameculos,’ but only Spanish has a word for the practice, the custom, the syndrome of ass kissing.

Hay cuatro gatos. There’s no one here.

Por cuatro perras. For next to nothing, as in a sale. Again with ‘cuatro.’ Hmmm.

Pleitos tengas y los ganes. An oldie but goodie, branded as ‘in disuse’ by the Cervantes center, and recognized by only some of my Spanish chums here. ‘Lawsuits you have, and you win them’ might be a literal translation, and could be used here as a threat, or an insult, suggesting that such suits are so costly that the winner can only lose.

Politicastro/a. Carpetbagger politician. Americans can consult a frequently nauseating repository of past campaign commercials at archive.org for recordings of Yankee politicastros.

And finally:

Pues, nada translates as ‘well, nothing,’ but is also what your Spain friends may say when a conversation is petering out and it’s time to hang up, or leave, or ask for the check.

So: pues, nada, amigos, ¡y hasta la próxima!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.