Spanish is the world’s most widely spoken Romance language, and its proliferation in different countries and locales presents its own set of translation challenges. We identified 10 common Spanish words and phrases without exact English equivalents. For the sake of simplicity, they all originate from Spain.
Spanish bridge/ puente over the river
If you were ever a student, worker or perhaps just an architecture enthusiast in Spain, you no doubt rejoiced upon hearing this term. Used in a literal sense, puente simply means “bridge.” In other contexts, it refers to an extended weekend that arises when a public holiday falls near, but not directly adjacent to, a weekend. For example, if a holiday falls on a Thursday, workers might have a puente in which Friday is also a day off work. A puente “bridges” the gap between the holiday and the weekend.
Ojo is the Spanish word for “eye.” But look out! In certain contexts, it can mean “Watch yourself, because I’m watching you!”
#3 Quedarse de piedra
Hispanophones use this expression to describe when someone is stunned or frozen from shock. Quedarse de piedra literally translates as “to stay like a stone.” For example, in order to say “I froze when I saw the car crash in front of me,” a Spanish speaker might say me quedé de piedra cuando vi el accidente de coche. “I stayed like a stone when I saw the car crash.
#4 ¡El mundo es un pañuelo!
Tiny globe held in a hand
When you run into someone you don’t expect, the world isn’t just small, it’s un pañuelo — a handkerchief. Why a handkerchief? For a Spaniard, a handkerchief is something small enough to tuck in your pocket — and with only four corners to explore, there’s always a chance you’ll run into someone.
#5 ¡Nada del otro mundo!
That news is nada del otro mundo, or literally, “nothing from the other world.” Often accompanied by a sarcastic tone, the speaker uses this phrase to convey that they are not surprised by a particular piece of information.
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