Using a nationality or ethnicity to create an idiom is not alien to any language. Although not all of them are offensive or pejorative, exploiting foreigners’ most visible features seems to have been on fashion while our languages were forming; something we don’t always approve in today’s society.
Please, be mindful and respectful when using these idioms and don’t forget to read the room before saying them loud.
be Greek to somebody
This is Greek to me! This expression is used when something is really difficult for somebody.
enespañol# ser / sonar a chino
I don’t understand any of this. It’s Greek to me
Split the bill.
enespañol# pagar a escote
Will you invite / buy or are go going Dutch?
When we say something is Spartan we mean something that is simple, without any luxury.
enespañol# ser espartano
Come on, don’t be so cheap. Book something better. That hotel looks Spartan!
when in Rome (do as the Romans do)
To behave as those around you, to respect other cultures or countries’ customs.
enespañol# donde fueres haz lo que vieres
I don’t usually eat with my hand but when in Rome…
A person who gives something to someone but later he or she wants it back.
enespañol# santa Rita rita, lo que se da no se quita
I’m sick of her being such an Indian giver, I’m not accepting any more gifts from her!
stars and stripes
The USA flag
enespañol# la bandera de los EEUU
Whenever I see the stars and stripes I feel proud of our great nation
take French leave
To leave without saying goodbye.
enespañol# despedirse a la francesa
I hate when people take the French leave, it is just so rude!
pardon my French
It is an expression commonly used in the UK after/before swearing, same as “pardon my language”.
enespañol# perdona mi lenguaje
Pardon my French, but I fucking need you to work harder
Chinese whispers is the kind of inaccurate information that comes through gossip.
enespañol# cuentos chinos
Don’t believe the rumors about his breaking with his girlfriend. It’s just Chinese whispers
It refers to practices at work that aren’t standard or according to contracts, usually arrangements negotiated between workers and trade unions.
enespañol# no existe
Some companies turn a blind eye to Spanish practices for the shake of work harmony
A rebel, someone who fights authority or society’s expectations
enespañol# no existe
The Young Turks in the conservative party want such radical reforms their whole institution may be in peril