Idioms with the word “polvo” Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Spanish Vocabulary


Polvo is “dust”. You can limpiar or quitar el polvo (to dust something) and there are several idioms with it. Shall we learn some of them?

The first idiom is hacer morder el polvo (literally to have someone bite the dust). It means “to defeat someone completely” or “to humiliate someone in a discussion”. Here are some examples:

Los soldados hicieron morder el polvo al enemigo. [The soldiers defeated the enemy completely.]
Mis amigos hicieron morder el polvo a aquel pedante. [My friends destroyed that pedantic man.]

Now, hacer polvo means that you turn someoneo or something into dust. In an idiomatic sense it can be used to say that something gets in your way of doing something, something gets you down or something is “destroyed”. Check out some examples:

Me hace polvo que haya huelga de metro mañana. [It’s a bummer there’s a subway strike tomorrow.]
La muerte de su padre le ha hecho polvo. [His father’s death destroyed him.]
Estas botas me hacen polvo los pies. [These boots are killing my feet.]
Se cayó el reloj al suelo y se hizo polvo. [My watch fell on the floor and shattered.]

Linked to hacer polvo, hecho polvo means “tired”, “run-down”, “depressed”, “destroyed”.

Desde que le operaron de la rodilla, Pedro se ha quedado hecho polvo. [Pedro has been a little down since they operated on his knee.]
Con tanto trabajo, estoy hecho polvo. [With so much work I am run-down.]
El coche quedó hecho polvo después del accidente. [The car was a wreck after the accident.]

Let’s move on to our next two expressions: limpio de polvo y paja and sacudir el polvo.

Limpio de polvo y paja is used to express the net value of something. Here´s an example: La ganancia limpia de polvo y paja es de cien dólares. [The net profit is of a hundred dollars.]. Now sacudir el polvo (literally to shake off the dust) is used when you hit someone: Como hables más de eso, te van a sacudir el polvo. [If you keep on talking about this, you’re going to get hit.]

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. dt:

    Y echar un polvo?!!! Os olvidais lo más importante..

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