Bread Idioms

pan. /pʰan/. n. Language: Spanish. Definition: Bread, a delicacy made of water and wheat and used as a secondary utensil at most Spanish meals. Responsible for half of all weight gained abroad. (For other half, see ‘cerveza.’)

So much pan. Source.

So much pan. Source.

I consider bread the epitome of good cuisine, a food group in and of itself, and an indispensable accompaniment to breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert (bread pudding, I’m talking to you). So I fully appreciate that Spanish incorporates the food into several important idioms.

If you’re looking to improve your fluency, or are just curious about the sayings of a culture that values its carbs, here’s a closer look:

“Al pan pan y al vino vino.”

Literal translation: “To bread bread and to wine wine.” English equivalent: “Let’s call a spade a spade.”

Example: Venga, al pan pan y al vino vino. Este chico todavía está viviendo con su madre y tiene 35 años. “Alright, let’s call a spade a spade. This guy’s still living with his mom and he’s 35 years old.” (Ring a bell?)

“Pan comido.”

Literal translation: “Eaten bread.” English equivalent: “A piece of cake” or “easy as pie.”

Example: Esa ruta de 20 kilometros ha sido pan comido. “That 20 kilometer hike was a piece of cake.” (A common utterance by rugged Basque men.)

“Estar más bueno que el pan.”

Literal translation: “To be better than bread.” English equivalent: To be hot stuff/gorgeous.

Example: Esa chica en tacones está más bueno que el pan. “That girl in heels is hot as sh**.”

“Ganarse el pan.”

Literal translation: “Earn the bread.” English equivalent: “Be the breadwinner” or “Bring home the bacon.”

Example: Aunque no me gusta mi trabajo, hay que ganarse el pan. “Even though I don’t like my job, I’ve gotta bring home the bacon.”

And my personal favorite….

“Más largo que un día sin pan.”

Literal translation: “Longer than a day without bread.” English translation: Something incredibly difficult.

Example: Una hora sin conectar a Instagram se me hizo más larga que un día sin pan. “An hour without going on Instagram was the longest thing of my life.”—Direct quote by all 300 of my high-schoolers.


Any other bread idioms come to mind, either in Spanish, English, or any other world language? How about other foods. . . . Every culture tends to form idioms around its staples.