¡Eres la leche! (You’re the milk!)
An odd, and let’s face it, hilarious, expression to the naked eye for those not up to speed with Spanish idioms. But for Spanish speakers, ¡Eres la leche! makes perfect sense.
While there are funny expressions like this in every language, you’ll notice that the Spanish language boasts an impressive amount of everyday expressions about milk.
That’s right. Milk. And none of them have anything to do with the white liquid we pour into our coffees!
You’ll actually find that most of these ingenious Spanish phrases that talk about “milk” are used to emphasise, or be expressive. Translate them literally, and they sound utterly ridiculous. But, lots of them have similar equivalent expressions in English, which really helps when it comes to remembering them!
Take a look at these 10 funny Spanish phrases where leche means more than just “milk”.*
*A quick note:
All these phrases come from the Spanish spoken in Spain, not the Spanish universally spoken in other parts of the globe.
Looking for more than a laugh? Start taking your Spanish language learning seriously by learning with Busuu.
1. ¡Eres la leche!
Literal translation: You’re the milk!
English equivalent: You’re unbelievable!
Actual meaning: You’re amazing / incredible / brilliant / exceptional!
Or the exact opposite. We also use ¡Eres la leche! to say that something – or someone – is the worst.
I know what you’re thinking: how can a phrase mean two polar-opposite things?
Well, it depends on the context it’s used in and, most importantly, the tone of voice you use.
You’d use a cheerful tone to say something or someone is amazing, and an annoyed one when you want to give something or someone a good metaphorical thwacking.
|El concierto de anoche fue la leche. |
|Last night’s concert was incredibly good.|
|Siempre llegas tarde. ¡Eres la leche!|
|You’re always late. You’re unbelievable.|
2. Estar de mala leche
Literal translation: to be of bad milk
English equivalent: to be a cranky pants
Actual meaning: to be in a bad mood
This almost translates: “to be of bad milk” makes you picture soured, expired milk – so just imagine what a mood someone would be in if they had the taste of ‘off’ milk swirling around in their mouth!
Also, have you noticed that we use the verb estar in this expression? That’s because we’re describing a feeling or a temporary state.
|Estoy de mala leche porque no dormí bien anoche.|
|I’m in a bad mood because I didn’t sleep well last night.|
3. Tener de mala leche
Literal translation: to have bad milk
English equivalent: to be mean / to have bad luck
Actual meaning: to have a grumpy demeanour, or be ill-tempered
Unlike estar de mala leche, this idiom describing someone’s permanent state of being – so if you’re saying someone has bad milk, you’re saying that person’s not just having a bad day: that’s just how they are. All the time.
|¡Qué mala leche tienes!|
|You’re so mean!|
Careful, though: in some Latin American countries, it also means to be unlucky, as opposed to tener leche, which means to be lucky.
4. Dar(se) una leche
Literal translation: to give a milk / to give yourself a milk
English equivalent: to smack / to injure yourself
Actual meaning: to hit someone
It could be anything from a gentle slap to a forceful thump.
But note that the meaning will change when you add reflexive endings. As then, you’ll be doing the damage to yourself.
The phrase can also be combined with other verbs, like meter(se) una leche or pegar(se) una leche and will carry the same meaning.
|¡Te voy a dar una leche!|
|I’ll slap you in the face!|
|Me caí por las escaleras y me di una leche tremenda.|
|I fell down the stairs and injured myself badly.|
5. A toda leche / echando leches
Literal translation: at all the milk / pouring milk
English equivalent: at full pelt / to do something hastily
Actual meaning: very quickly
This could be in terms of speed, going somewhere very fast, or doing something very quickly.
|Salió de allí a toda leche.|
|He got the hell out of there.|
|Limpié la casa a toda leche porque no tenía tiempo.|
|I hastily cleaned the house because I was short on time.|
6. De la leche
Literal translation: of the milk
English equivalent: the best or the worst
Actual meaning: “very” or “much”
This phrase is basically used as an intensifier – something to emphasise how incredible something is.
But context also plays an important role here.
For example, this phrase can mean two very different things. Remove the context and tone of voice, and the meaning could go either way.
|Tengo una suerte de la leche.|
|I’m so lucky. / Just my luck.|
7. Creerse la leche
Literal translation: to believe you’re the milk
English equivalent: to be full of yourself
Actual meaning: to have a high opinion of yourself
The actual meaning says it all, really. It’s pure egotism, in its simplest form.
|Javier se cree la leche porque vive en Londres.|
|Javier is full of himself because he lives in London.|
Literal translation: milk!
English equivalent: for goodness’ sake!
Actual meaning: expressing surprise, shock, annoyance or irritation.
This one word conveys a host of different feelings. But any Spanish speaker will immediately get the gist as what you mean when you utter it.
9. ¡Y una leche!
Literal translation: and one milk!
English equivalent: There’s no way in hell that’s happening!
Actual meaning: absolutely not.
In short, it’s a very expressive and defiant way of saying “no” when you’re fully against doing something.
|– ¿Me dejas tu coche? |
– ¡Y una leche!
|– Can I borrow your car?|
– There’s no way in hell!
10. ¿Qué leches?
Literal translation: what milks?
English equivalent: what the hell?
Actual meaning: an expression to indicate surprise.
You can mix and match different question words before leche to fit the scenario.
|¿Dónde leches…? |
|Where on earth…?|
|How on earth… ?|
|When on earth…?|
|¿Qué leches haces?|
|What on earth are you doing?|
So there you have it: 10 utterly ridiculous, yet sensical ways of expressing how you feel using the word ‘milk’.
Got a favourite one? Or any other Spanish expressions involving milk, or any other kind of food and drink? Comment to share the hilarity!
And as for the best way to appreciate these funny Spanish phrases? Throw them into your next Spanish conversation, and see how well the milk goes down.
Looking for more help with your Spanish? Or another language, perhaps? Learn up to 12 languages with Busuu today.