“Hablar por los codos”: Spanish saying for loquaciousness

What does “hablar por los codos” mean? The Spanish expression “hablar por los codos” translates literally to “speaking through the elbows.” However, as with most idiomatic phrases, the true meaning lies beyond the literal interpretation. This popular saying is used to describe a person who talks excessively or cannot stop talking, often to the point of becoming tiresome or annoying to others. It denotes a loquacious nature, someone who dominates conversations and struggles to keep their thoughts to themselves.

Origin and Evolution of the saying

The exact origin of “hablar por los codos” is not entirely clear, but it likely dates back several centuries. Some linguistic experts speculate that the phrase emerged during the Middle Ages, when people would gesture animatedly while talking, often using their elbows to emphasize their points. As the gesture became synonymous with excessive speech, the expression “hablar por los codos” was born.

Over time, the expression has survived and thrived in the Spanish-speaking world, and its popularity has not waned. Its continued use showcases the significance of linguistic heritage in shaping cultural identities and maintaining a sense of connection with the past.

Usage and Cultural Significance

“Hablar por los codos” is a versatile expression used across various contexts. Whether in a casual conversation among friends, a professional setting, or even in literature and media, it finds its way into everyday communication. This widespread use highlights the universality of the experience: everyone has encountered someone who fits the description of being excessively talkative.

The expression also reflects the Spanish culture’s appreciation for expressive communication and eloquence. Spanish-speaking communities place great value on effective communication, and being able to articulate one’s thoughts with passion and skill is often admired. However, the phrase also serves as a gentle reminder that there is a fine line between eloquence and excessive verbosity.

Coping with “Hablar por los codos”

While the expression “hablar por los codos” might evoke humorous anecdotes and lighthearted moments, it can also present challenges in social interactions. Dealing with someone who talks excessively may require patience, tact, and empathy. Engaging in active listening and steering the conversation towards a balanced exchange of ideas can help manage interactions with such individuals.

Additionally, being mindful of our own communication habits is crucial. We should strive for a healthy balance between expressing ourselves and allowing others to share their thoughts. Respecting the importance of pauses and giving others space to speak fosters meaningful dialogue and better relationships.

Language is an integral part of our culture and a reflection of our unique identities. The Spanish expression “hablar por los codos” captures the essence of loquaciousness and its impact on everyday interactions. From its potential origins in the Middle Ages to its continued relevance in the modern world, this expression serves as a delightful reminder of the power and charm of idiomatic language.

Do you remember Donkey in Shrek? That’s a clear representation of “hablar por los codos”, despite we are not sure he has elbows.

Not to be confused with “hincar los codos”

“Hincar los codos” and “hablar por los codos” are two popular Spanish idiomatic expressions, each with distinct meanings. Both expressions involve the idea of elbows,. But they convey entirely different concepts – one is about hard work and dedication, and the other pertains to excessive and perhaps unimportant chatter. “Hincar los codos” literally translates to “to stick one’s elbows in,” but figuratively, it refers to dedicating oneself to study or hard work, implying putting effort and focus into learning or accomplishing a task. On the other hand, “hablar por los codos” literally translates to “to speak through one’s elbows”. It means to talk excessively or without stopping. It also often implying that the person talks a lot but may not necessarily says anything of great substance. If you want to speak spanish like a native, you will need to master these kind of similar expressions.


Safe to use in all contexts


Not new, not old

Vulgar / Formal

Safe to use in formal situations


Easier ways to express same idea

“Es una metralleta”

“No para de hablar”

“No para de darle a la lengua”

Native score

This is an easy one to start mastering spanish idioms

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