Vocabulary: Spanish expressions about speed
They say that Spaniards are calm and not usually in a hurry. But we also have times when we must be quick as well as accurate. Proof of this can be found in some of the expressions related to urgency, speed or haste.
- Ariquitaun:this is an Andalusian expression that is somewhat complicated. Its origin would be in the public address system in the port of Cadiz, which warned about the early arrival of English ships with the expression “arrive at town” (do you notice the resemblance?) But today it is a topical and humorous expression.
- A toda castaña (At full chestnut): what does a chestnut have to do with speed? According to the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) “chesnut” also means “choque” (collision), so this expression would express the inevitable speed of a collision.
- A toda mecha (at full speed): “la mecha”(wick) is the rope or filament used in candles or lighters. As you know they are used up fairly quickly, so you can imagine what the relationship is between this and speed.
- A tumba abierta (at open grave): Nowadays it is not often used. It would be a more serious version of “a toda castaña” as you refer to the speed of having an accident.
- Echando mistos: A curious expression that even confuses Spanish speakers. Some believe it refers to “misto”, a word that got its name from esoteric cults of ancient Greece. But “misto” is also a synonym for “mixed”, which is a way of referring to matches, in which case we would be talking about something very similar to “full blast”. What seems like the more logical explanation?
There are many more, including those from their own regions. Of course it’s a fun topic to investigate.