SPANISH EXPRESSIONS WITH “GATO”

14 May 2014

WHAT DOES “HABER GATO ENCERRADO” MEAN?

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Expression used as a sign of distrust. It is used in situations when you suspect cheating or deception is attempted.

Some sources suggest that, originally, this saying meant “to have hidden or saved money ” because “gato” so “cat”  referred to the bag where coins were kept.

Examples:

  • Qué raro que Ana haya ganado el concurso, ¡aquí hay gato encerrado!

            It is weird that Anna won the contest, something’s fishy here!

  • Estamos recibiendo demasiados elogios de la competencia… aquí hay gato encerrado, ¿qué estarán tramando?

           We are receiving a lot of compliments from the competition… something’s fishy, what are they up to?

  • No tenemos gato encerrado y simplemente estamos tratando de mejorar el mundo a través de nuestras tarjetas para elevar la conciencia universal.

           We have no hidden agenda and are simply trying to make the world a better place with the use of our cards to raise awareness.

 

WHAT DOES THE EXPRESSION “DE NOCHE TODOS LOS GATOS SON PARDOS” MEAN?

Literal translation: at night all the cats are grey.

It means that in certain circumstances, objects or people act the same way, or are very similar.

The expression, considered a proverb, is very old and was used by Cervantes in Don Quixote. Apart from the literal meaning, the term referred to insecurity in Madrid in the 19th century, as the inhabitants are called precisely “gatos”, so “cats”.  During the nineteenth century there were guides for foreigners explaining the most common scams and tricks in the city. Of course, it was recommended not to go out at night because, in these circumstances, it was very hard to recognise people you could meet.

Examples:

  • ¿Por qué te asustaste anoche? – Lo siento, no te reconocí. Pensaba que eras un delincuente, como por la noche todos los gatos son pardos.

           Why did you get scared last night? – Sorry, I did not recognize. I thought you were a criminal; all cats are gray in the dark.

  • ¿Por qué te besaste con ese chico tan feo en la fiesta? – De noche todos los gatos son pardos.

           Why did you make ​​out with such an ugly guy at the party? – All cats are gray in the dark

 

WHAT DOES “DAR GATO POR LIEBRE” MEAN?

Cheat, tick, rip off, swindle. Give or sell something of a different quality than requested or purchased.

In the past, serving cats instead of hakes was probably a fairly widespread custom in taverns, especially in times of scarcity. As the texture of the meat is quite similar, it was not hard to fool the customers, especially those really hungry ones. Today we use it when we refer to cheating of ripping off.

Examples:

  • Nos dijeron que era un hotel de 5 estrellas…  y realmente es un hostal, ¡nos han dado gato por liebre¡

           They said it was a 5-star hotel … and it actually was a hostel, they have ripped us off.

  • Estamos dando gato por liebre a los ciudadanos.

           We are pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

  • Eurostat ha firmado contratos con empresas que le han dado gato por liebre y le han estafado.

Eurostat has entered into contracts with companies that have pulled the wool over its eyes and defrauded it.

 

WHAT DOES “HABER CUATRO GATOS”MEAN?

When we say that there are four cats in a place (hay cuatro gatos en un lugar), it means that there is almost no one, the place is almost empty.

Examples:

  • La fiesta de Luis fue bastante aburrida, ¡sólo había cuatro gatos allí!

           The party at Luis´place was pretty boring, there was hardly anyone there.

  • Finalmente tuvieron que suspender las clases de cocina en la universidad porque sólo se habían apuntado cuatro gatos.

           In the end, the cooking clases at the university were cancelled because  almost no one signed up.

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