33 Funny Spanish Jokes & Phrases That Don't Quite Translate (2023)

There are dozens of funny Spanish jokes and phrases and sayings that will make you sound more like a native when conversing with friends and family. These sayings and jokes provide a unique “cultural window” that reflects the morals and values of many Spanish-speaking countries.

Funny Spanish Sayings & Phrases

Just like the English language, the Spanish language is filled with funny-sounding phrases that use puns, symbolism, metaphors, and idioms to make a point. For example, in English, we might use the phrase “to kill two birds with one stone,” but of course, we’re not literally talking about using a stone to kill multiple birds. Rather, this phrase means to achieve two things at once.

You’ll find similar phrases and sayings in Spanish. What’s more, sometimes when you translate Spanish to English sentences, the meaning doesn’t quite come across the same. For instance, there may not be an English equivalent for the Spanish term or perhaps it rhymes in Spanish but doesn’t in the English translation.

And it’s important to realize that while you might find some of these sayings to be funny Spanish phrases, they might actually not be funny at all once you learn what they mean! Check out some common conversational phrases and their translations below to make sense of them all.

Querer es poder.

Literal translation:
Wanting to, is being able to.

What it actually means:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This wise saying points to the resilient heart of Spanish culture, that even if an obstacle appears insurmountable at first, you can overcome it!

[cta_split_test id=”BST-Spanish-Shortcode”]

No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Literal translation:
There’s nothing bad that doesn’t occur in the name of a greater good.

What it actually means:
Every cloud has a silver lining.

This is one of our favorite funny Spanish sayings. It points to a belief in Spanish culture that even if an event appears negative, you should trust that it happened for a reason. Life is giving you what you need now, even if it feels rough.

You can also attribute it tothe belief in a greater good, or a greater power.

Échale ganas.

Literal translation:
Insert desire.

What it actually means:
Try your best.

Ponte las pilas.

Literal translation:
Put your batteries on.

What it actually means:
Work hard.

Es mejor pedir perdón que permiso.

Literal translation:
It’s better to apologize than to ask for permission.

What it actually means:
Do what you need to do now.

Here the attitude is “you better just do what you need to do now and worry about the consequences after,” highlighting another cultural proclivity toward staying in the present moment and doing whatever is needed in that moment.

SEE ALSO: 35 Spanish Slang Words

Despacio que tengo prisa.

Literal translation:
Slowly that I’m in a rush.

What it actually means:
Slower is faster.

Many funny jokes in Spanish also have a bit of wise advice attached to them. This one suggests that doing what you need to do slowly and thoroughly is more productive in the long-run.

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Más vale mal por conocido que bueno por conocer.

Literal translation:
Known evil is better thanunknown good.

What it actually means:
Be content with what you have now.

This saying suggests that known imperfection is better than idealizing a future alternative that may not be too good at all. This is a double-edged sword, however, as staying in your comfort zone can actually prevent you from better options.

Él que transa no avanza.

Literal translation:
He who deceives never advances.

What it actually means:
Deception never pays off.

This rhymes smoothly but only in Spanish.

Tirar la casa por la ventana.

Literal translation:
Throw the house out the window.

What it actually means:
Roll out the red carpet.

This saying is about splurging on special occasions, namely spending a lot of money when the situation warrants it.

Mandar a alguien por un tubo.

Literal translation:
Send someone through a tube.

What it actually means:
Tell them to shove it.

This is about setting limits when people don’t treat you right.

Quedarse con los brazos cruzados.

Literal translation:
Staying with your arms crossed.

What it actually means:
He/she froze.

SEE ALSO: 36 Popular Spanish Slang Words

This is when someone gets paralyzed and doesn’t act when they need to.

Caras vemos corazones no sabemos.

Literal translation:
We see faces but we don’t know hearts.

What it actually means:
Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This isn’t one of the funny things to say in Spanish, but rather something more serious. It means that you should realize things aren’t always the way they appear.

Mejor solo que mal acompañado.

Literal translation:
It’s better to be alone than in bad company.

What it actually means:
It’s okay to be alone sometimes.

This saying reminds people to take care of themselves in relationships. It’s just one of many quotes about love and relationships in Spanish that you’ll come across.

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De golosos y tragones, están llenos los panteones.

Literal translation:
Cemeteries are full of greedy people.

What it actually means:
Care for others — or else.

This saying works in English but doesn’t rhyme at all.

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Literal translation:
A shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.

What it actually means:
You snooze, you lose.

Here, again, the rhyme is lost in translation but it’s a good reminder to seize opportunties as they come your way.

Más vale un pájaro en mano que ciento uno volando.

Literal translation:
One bird in hand is better than 100 birds flying.

What it actually means:
A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.

This quote about life is beautiful and thoughtful. The meaning behind this message is simple: you already have something that’s guaranteed yours, so don’t be greedy and try to grab two more that may or may not be yours.

Se puso hasta las chanclas.

Literal translation:
He/she put themselves up to the sandals.

What it actually means:
He/she got hammered.

There are many funny Spanish phrases that have to do with drinking. Use this one when you have a friend who got a little too carried away the night before!

Palabras necias, oídos sordos.

Literal translation:
Annoying words, deaf ears.

What it actually means:
If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Nobody likes to listen to someone nagging, so it’s better to keep quiet!

Entre la espada y la pared.

Literal translation:
Between the sword and the wall.

What it actually means:
Between a rock and a hard place.

This describes a difficult situation where no matter what you do, it feels like the wrong choice.

Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.

Literal translation:
There’s a giant gap between the saying and the action.

What it actually means:
It’s easier said than done.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about an action getting done than to physically carry it out.

Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor.

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Literal translation:
It went from Guate-bad to Guata-worse.

What it actually means:
Things went from bad to worse.

This play on words is clearly compromised in the translation, as the original saying in Spanish uses the country Guatemala, which has the word “bad” in its last two syllables.

Entre broma y broma la verdad se asoma.

Literal translation:
Between jokes and jokes, the truth lurks.

What it actually means:
Jokes can reveal truths.

The beautiful rhyming in Spanish is again lost in the English translation.

RELATED: 50 Beautiful Spanish Words

Now let’s look at some funny Spanish phrases and jokes to share with your friends!

Funny Jokes in Spanish

Now that you’re familiar with what some might call funny phrases in Spanish, how about learning some actual jokes? Below you’ll find some jokes in Spanish that are funny and would begreat for kids and adults alike.

¿Qué le dijo un pez a otro pez? Nada.

Translation:

What did one fish say to another? Nada.

The word “nada” in Spanish can refer to the command to swim, or the word “nothing.” So this joke is a play-on-words

Hay dos palabras que te abrirán muchas puertas: Empuje y jale.

Translation:

There are two words that will open many doors for you: push and pull.

This hilarious little joke is another play-on-words in Spanish.

¿Qué le dijo una ganza a la otra? Venganza

Translation:

What did one goose say to the other? Revenge.

If you separate the first syllable ven,meaning “come,” from the next two, ganza meaning “goose,” you’ll see that the joke’s answer simultaneously reads, “come goose” and the word “revenge.”

Clearly, this joke does not work in English, so if it were translated in a movie, the subtitles wouldn’t capture it well, no matter how skilled the translator is. Talk about a dad joke!

Se encuentran dos abogados y uno le dice al otro:

-¿Vamos a tomar algo?

-Bueno… ¿de quién?

Translation:

There are two lawyers and one says to the other:

-“Let’s get a drink.”

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-“Yes. From who?”

In Spanish the verb tomar (“to take”) is also used to mean “to drink,” so the lawyers are “taking a drink” and “taking something from someone” simultaneously. This highlights the culturaltendency to view lawyers as corrupt, opportunistic, and greedy.

“¡Te dije que me gustan las películas viejas y buenas y tú me llevaste a una película de viejas buenas!”

Translation:

“I told you I liked good and old movies, but you took me to see a movie with pretty women!”

This play-on-words is especially complicated. While vieja means “old,” it also refers to a woman, and while buena usually means “good,” it can also mean “attractive” when referring to a person.

¿Cuál es la fruta más divertida? La naranja ja ja ja.

Translation:

What is the most fun fruit? The orange ha ha ha.

When it comes to speaking Spanish with kids, this is a silly joke to try on them. In English, you use “ha ha ha” when you laugh, but in Spanish, you use “ja ja ja.” So for this one, by repeating the ending of the word for orange, “naranja,” using “ja ja ja,” you’re implying that the fruit is fun and laughing!

¿Cómo llama el vaquero a su hija? ¡Hijaaaaaaaaaa!

Translation:

What did the cowboy say to his daughter? Daughter!

In Spanish, the word for daughter, “hija,” sounds a bit like the way a cowboy would say, “yee-haw!” This funny Spanish joke will be a hit with little kids. While it doesn’t quite make sense when you translate it to English, the message—and humor—go much further in Spanish.

¿Por qué está triste el cuaderno de matemáticas? Porque tiene muchos problemas.

Translation:

Why was the math notebook sad? Because it has many problems.

This funny thing to say in Spanish is a great joke to use with children. Of course, the math notebook is sad because it’s filled with so many math problems! Like in English, “problemas” or problems is another word for calculations.

¿Que dice el mar a la playa? ¡Ola!

Translation:

What did the sea say to the beach? Wave!

This funny Spanish joke is another play on words that won’t make sense if you’re unfamiliar with the language. In Spanish, the word for wave is “ola,” which sounds very similar to the word for hello, “hola.” Therefore, the sea, which is essentially a wave, is saying hello to the beach. Get it?

¿Cuál es el día favorito del gato?Meow-coles.

Translation:

What is the cat’s favorite day? Wednesday.

To make sense of this one, you’ll need to be familiar with the days of the week. In Spanish, the word for Wednesday is “miércoles.” Because the beginning of the word sounds close to the noise a cat would make (meow), you can emphasize the cat’s meow when saying it: meeeeeow-coles!

Now that you know some of these funny Spanish sayings, you won’t feel confused if you hear them in conversation! If you want to learn more about how to make jokes in Spanish and pick up more Spanish slang, then it’s time to turn to private lessons. When you work one-on-one with a private tutor, you’ll get all the inside scoop on how to crack jokes and start conversations with other Spanish speakers. Sign up for in-person or online Spanish lessons with us today!

Post Author:Jason N.
Jason N. tutors English andSpanish in Athens, GA.He majored in Spanish at UC Davis and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica.Learn more about Jason here!

FAQs

What do Spanish people say when they are angry? ›

Estoy enfadado / enfadada (or) Estoy enojado/ enojada

These are the most known Spanish expressions of anger you can use for any intensity. Feeling enfadado / enojado means feeling angry. You can use it in pretty much any scenario as it's associated with anger, irritation, or annoyance.

What not to say to Spanish people? ›

11 Things You Should Never Say to a Spaniard, Ever
  • What side was your family on during the Civil War? ...
  • Waiter, this soup is cold! ...
  • Why do they let kids in here? ...
  • Bullfighting is Spain's national sport! ...
  • Let's have paella and sangria for dinner! ...
  • Is it vegetarian? ...
  • What's all the fuss about football?
Nov 17, 2017

What do Spaniards find rude? ›

Other habits to avoid when dining in Spain is to not place your elbows on the table, do not slurp your food or burp in public. All these actions are considered bad etiquette in Spain. For example, slurping your noodles in places like Japan may be acceptable. But in Spain, it is rude to do this.

Is it rude to say no gracias? ›

2. No gracias — No, thank you. This is a basic, polite way to express that, “really, I'd rather not.”

What is the number 0 in Spanish? ›

If you want to say “zero” in Spanish you would use “el cero”. It's part of the 0-10 sequence you may already know: cero, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez. The numbers in Spanish follow a pattern, just like in English.

Is there no K in Spanish? ›

The letters k and w do not occur in Spanish words unless the word has been borrowed from another language such as English or even Japanese. For example, el karate is considered a “Spanish” noun, even though the k is not a Spanish letter. In Spanish, there are two ways to produce the sound of the English letter k.

What are some slurs in Spanish? ›

Contents
  • 2.1 Chingar. 2.1.1 Chingado/da. 2.1.2 Chingón/a.
  • 2.2 Follar.
  • 2.3 Joder.
  • 2.4 Remojar el cochayuyo.
  • 2.5 Coger.

How do you politely refuse in Spanish? ›

To decline an invitation in Spanish politely, you can use one of the following phrases:
  1. Lo siento, pero ya tengo un compromiso – I am sorry, but I have already made plans.
  2. Me gustaría, pero no puedo – I'd love, but I can't.
  3. Desafortunadamente no puedo – Unfortunately, I can't.
Sep 25, 2019

How do you express hate in Spanish? ›

Odio: “I hate”. The strongest expression for expressing disgust. This works for everything you could possibly hate, for example about a restaurant or an annoying thing. Me fastidia / Me fastidian: “It bothers me / They bother me.” The difference between these expressions is basically singular vs.

Is yawning rude in Spain? ›

Body language. – Spanish people can be described as cheerful and outgoing people and they will use expansive body language to express that. – In conversation, the Spanish aren't likely to stand uncomfortably close, but they may still pat your arm or shoulder. – Yawning or stretching in public is considered vulgar.

Is burping rude in Spain? ›

No eructes (Don't burp): Just like slurping your food, burping is considered rude in Spain. Some people definitely burp in public, but trust us, no one likes those people.

Do the Spanish swear a lot? ›

Cursing is an integral part of the language, so it has become less taboo that in English. You hear it much more often and much more frequently peppering up sentences than we do in the US or England. No one can ever say that Spanish isn't a colorful language.

What is the Spanish slang word for grouchy? ›

grouchy {adjective}

atufado {adj.} [Mex.] [coll.] carrascaloso {adj.}

What is the word for aggressive Spanish? ›

[person, animal, behaviour] agresivo. he was in a very aggressive mood estaba muy agresivo.

How do you show frustration in Spanish? ›

11 Ways to Express your Frustration in Spanish
  1. Estar hasta la coronilla – To be sick of…! Estar hasta la coronilla is one of the most popular Spanish phrases to express frustration. ...
  2. ¡Ya Estuvo Suave! – Enough! ...
  3. ¡Por el Amor de Dios! ...
  4. ¡Maldita sea! ...
  5. Ya / Ay ya – Enough! ...
  6. ¡Ándale! ...
  7. ¡Dios mío! ...
  8. ¡Dame paciencia, señor!
Apr 6, 2023

What's another word for shut up in Spanish? ›

Cállate

How do you say quiet shut up in Spanish? ›

Guarden silencio – Be quiet / Shut up

Even though this expression is another imperative phrase, guarden silencio is one of the most polite, formal and non-aggressive ways to say 'shut up' in Spanish.

What is the Spanish word disgust? ›

[dɪsˈɡʌst ] 1. (= revulsion) repugnancia f ⧫ asco m.

What is Spanish slang for whiny? ›

whining {noun}

lloriqueo {m} [coll.]

What is Spanish slang for evil? ›

If you'd like to say “evil” in Spanish, you have several options. The most basic is “malo.” For example; “El bien y el malo.” = “Good and evil.” “Malvado” = “Wicked or sinful”

What is a sad thing to say in Spanish? ›

Lo siento is probably the most common way to express condolences in Spanish, as it's the English equivalent of “I'm sorry”. For more emphasis, you could say lo siento mucho, which would translate to “I'm really sorry”.

How do you say horrible in Spanish slang? ›

you're horrible! ¡qué malo eres!

What is Spanish slang for fight? ›

Chingar is probably the most frequently used verb in Mexican slang with many different meanings and a long history of usage. Chingar is derived from cingarár—”to fight” in Caló, the language of Spanish Gypsies that had a deep influence on Mexican-American slang.

How do you say sad in Spanish slang? ›

Triste (Sad) Enojado or enojada (Angry) — Remember, the ending in O is for masculine and the ending with an A is for feminine. De malas / Molesto or molesta (In a bad mood / moody) Cansado or cansada (Tired)

What is the Mexican exclamation of joy? ›

What does wepa mean? Wepa is a versatile Latin-American Spanish slang exclamation used to express excitement, congratulations, and joy, similar to the English Oh yeah!, Wow!, or That's awesome!.

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