We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Spanish has thousands of expressions with milk. Yes, you read that right. Whether you are in Spain or in Ecuador, you will always find a funny expression with milk. So today, we break them down just for you!
Literally, bad milk. But what does it really mean? Having “mala leche” means to have a bad mood or to be ill-tempered. It’s a common expression and you’ll hear it often. When I was writing this article I researched it, and apparently this expression is ancient. According to historians and etymologists, people believed that personality traits were inherited through maternal milk. So someone who was ill-tempered had “bad milk”. The more you know, isn’t it?
Ser la leche
Spanish Gurus is la leche, because we’re just so darn cool. Well, we try to be. Ser la leche means it’s great, extraordinary. In Spain, it’s common to hear something like “este tío es la leche” (literally, this guy is the milk). It can also be used for things, like “esta película es la leche” (this movie is the milk). Sometimes it’s used sarcastically, so it might mean everything is really bad. It’s up to you to judge!
A toda leche
Literally, at full milk. Another enigmatic expression with milk, and the origin is a mystery even to specialists. It can mean one of two things: speed or volume. For example, when we say conducir a toda leche, it means “drive very fast”. But when we say “tener la música a toda leche” it means that the music is loud. Driving at full milk and listening to music at full milk are two things you can only do in Spanish-speaking countries.
Saber la leche
Saber la leche literally means “to know the milk”. When we say él sabe la leche, the correct translation is “he knows a lot”/ he is very knowledgeable about a certain subject. Another expression with a similar meaning is “la leche de listo” (the milk of smart”), which means to be really smart.
Cagarse en la leche
It’s no secret that Spanish speakers se cagan en todo. Spanish-speakers crap on the mother that bore them, on the number 10, on the communion wafer, in the sea and… of course, in the milk. Cagarse en la leche means to, err, defecate on the milk or, in other words, “damn!”. This is a common although vulgar expression, so don’t use it lightly. Never use this expression in a formal context or with people that you don’t really know! And if you do… don’t say that you learned it from us.
De la leche
Different pronouns, different meanings. De la leche means of the milk, but it means incredible. If something is de la leche, it’s amazing or tremendous. Or could you have a cabreo de la leche, which means you’d be incredibly mad. (We sincerely hope that you have a suerte de la leche instead, because you would be really lucky!) But as always… milk can change with context.
Darse una leche
Darse una leche (to give oneself a milk) is another vulgar expression featuring milk. You should not use this in a formal context. In a casual setting, it means to crash into something or to hit something. You can use it with dar(se) or with pegar(se).
Echando leches (spilling milks) means to make everything very quickly. We can use this expression with ‘irse’, ‘salir’ or ‘marchar’. An example would be “salió echando leches del trabajo porque tenía prisa”, which would be “he went out spilling milks because he was in a hurry”.
Nothing or no. “No he entendido una leche” stands for “I have not understood a milk” or, in proper English, “I have not understood a thing.” Maybe you don’t speak a leche of Spanish, which means you speak no (or very little) Spanish. Hopefully that’s about to change: subscribe to our newsletter and to our Youtube channel to access the best Spanish resources on the web!
¡Y una leche!
Do this, do that, this again and... ¡y una leche! Instead of using other slang words, leche fills in as a more polite word. We use this expression when you’re not willing to say whatever people have told you to. Occasionally, it’s used to express disbelief over someone’s promises (the salesperson promised that it wouldn’t break, it would last forever… ¡y una leche!).