Odd Spanish Expressions: “No tener pelos en la lengua”

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If you haven’t noticed already, but Spanish idioms quite funny when translated into English. This week we want to teach you what “no tener pelos en la lengua” means so you can start using it and sound more like a native speaker. Interesting, the literal meaning of this expression is that a person has no hairs on their tongue. Despite being a very common expression there is no documented event that gave rise to it. However, there is an explanation:

If a person suffered a condition similar to having hairs on the tongue he or she would have difficulty speaking and pronouncing words correctly. This challenge would cause significant damage to their self esteem. The original phrase was actually “tener pelos en la lengua” which means to have hairs on the tongue. This expression refers to people who rarely spoke and struggle to communicate. Now the expression “no tener pelos en la lengua” means the complete opposite. The loose translation describes someone that is very blunt and direct. A person who says what they think and how they feel without caring about what others might think. In English we use the expression “not to mince one’s word, which has a similar meaning.

Examples: 

  • Por mi parte está bien… pero yo no tengo pelos en la lengua y hablaré sin rodeos.

(It is perfectly alright with me, but I am a blunt man and I intend to speak very frankly with you.)  

  • Camarero, esta sopa es horrible, la peor sopa que he comido nunca. Lo siento si soy muy sincere, pero yo no tengo pelos en la lengua.

(Waiter, this soup is awful, the worst soup I have ever eaten. I’m sorry if I’m very honest, but I’m blunt and direct.)

 

– Nina

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Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. After falling in love with Madrid, she started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth! In her spare time you will find Leah at some of Madrid's many museums and cultural exhibitions.

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Is like “to be ashamed of speak out the true”, you don’t want to open your mouth and you prefer to keep quiet or not tell the true (could be little strange or disgusting to see someone with hair on his tong”.

    Reply

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