‘10’ Old but Interesting Phrases in English and Spanish

alphabet close up communication conceptual


In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about interesting things about English language.  Today, I am peeking inside two of the most widely spoken languages in the world to explore some of their rustic phrases and words barely heard now.

There are some funnier ones as well because as they say, a smile never goes out of style.

And here is a small snippet.  Although a lot of us may have heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, it may not be completely true as far as scientific research is concerned.  According to the research almost an equal number of muscles are required to smile (12) and to frown (11).

The fact that we smile more often has led to strengthening of these muscles making it easier for us to smile than to frown.  So, keep practicing and make it effortless.

Let’s now delve into some of the forgotten gems, I collected from the internet.  Although, most of these phrases have outlived their utility due to changes in the environment and with constant evolution of language, they can still pack a punch as one tries to communicate in a more retro style.

  1. A nod is as good as a wink – You will hardly find anyone using this phrase now. However, the most recent recorded use of it was in Monty Python where a ‘blind bat’ was added too.  ‘a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat’ it said.  The phrase however, implies that a subtle signal is sufficient to indicate agreement, mostly used when someone is engaged in a borderline illegal activity.


  1. Spend a Penny – What do you say when you need to use the washroom? Well, people have their own special ways to express this desire.  In the earlier days, ‘spend a penny’ was a euphemism for using public toilets.  There used to be a door lock in lavatories, those days, which would open up only after a penny was inserted.  Sadly, the phrase become redundant, as the charges increased to 2 pennies.


  1. Flogging a dead horse – Still used by some, the phrase refers to futile efforts to get something out of someone. Like a salesperson who after attempting all his tricks, find himself unable to convince a customer may refer to it as flogging a dead horse.  It also implies evoking interest in a lost cause.


  1. I’ll go to the foot of our stairs – If you are stunned, surprised or amazed, you can probably use this phrase. It used to be an exclamation to express surprise or astonishment.


  1. Shabbaroon – A tongue twister too. Refers to a person who is not well dressed and is also mean.  Somebody dressed wretchedly and with a mean intention.


  1. Unlicked Cub – Many a time older people blame the younger generation for being disrespectful of the elders. This phrase appropriately describes it in just two words.  A person who is rude and uncivilized.


  1. Best thing since sliced bread – When the bread slicing machine was introduced in the 1920’s, it was a revolutionary forward step in the baking industry. This phrase was used to create hype for a new product, person or even service.  I like the phrase pretty much and would definitely use it in my writing going forward.




  1. Temblar como un flan – Spanish for to tremble or shake like a leaf or jelly. Flan is a Spanish dessert that is both smooth and creamy.  This phrase is used to express shaking or trembling in any situation out of fear, nervousness or excitement.


  1. Ser del ano de la pera – Again, Spanish for something very old. Literally, it translates to – ‘to be from the year of the pear’.  Referred to something which is very old and at times outdated, can be attributed to a person or a dress.


  1. Estar Sin blanca – Spanish – Blanca was the least valuable coin in the 16th century Spain. The phrase is used to describe a situation wherein the person is very poor or had spent or lost all his money.  Like after buying an expensive house, the person may say – He gastado todos mis ahorros parra comprar una casa y ahora estoy sin blanca.


Which one is your favorite and with whom would you like to use any of these phrases, do comment!

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