Why do we say “A buenas horas mangas verdes”?

The Spanish expression “a buenas horas mangas verdes” is used to convey a sense of sarcasm or irony regarding the timing of someone’s actions or statements. It can be translated as “at a good time, green sleeves,” but the meaning is not literal.

The phrase originates from medieval times when a group of peasants known as “mangas verdes” (green sleeves) formed a militia in Andalusia, Spain, to combat banditry. However, their formation was often delayed, and they would arrive “at a good time” when the danger had already passed. Thus, the expression evolved to mean that someone arrived or acted too late or at an inconvenient moment.

Usually comes with annoyance or frustration

When Spaniards use the expression “a buenas horas mangas verdes”, they are expressing annoyance or frustration with someone who is finally doing or saying something, but it is no longer relevant or useful. It implies that the person should have acted or spoken earlier when it would have made a difference or been more timely. Actually, this spanish expression became so popular that many people would understand or complete ir if you just say “a buenas horas”.

In essence, the phrase conveys a sense of irony and serves as a gentle way of telling someone that their actions or words are belated or not particularly helpful anymore.


Express annoyance, but in a polite way


Historic expression, but currently used

Vulgar / Formal


Literal translation

“At a good time, green sleeves”
“Solution comes late”


Easier ways to express same idea

“Ahora ya no me hace falta”

“Ahora ya no lo necesito”

Native score

Native, with a taste of spanish history

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