Meaning of “tomar el pelo” in spanish

When learning a new language, idioms can be both fascinating and puzzling. One such intriguing Spanish expression is “tomar el pelo.” Translated literally, it means “to take the hair” or “to grab the hair.” But what does it really mean ‘Tomar el pelo’ in Spanish and how is it used in everyday conversation?

Tomar el pelo, spanish idiom

‘Tomar el pelo’ meaning in Spanish:

“Tomar el pelo” is an idiomatic expression used in Spanish to describe the act of teasing, joking, or pulling someone’s leg. When you say “me estás tomando el pelo,” you are accusing someone of making fun of you or trying to deceive you playfully. The phrase is often used in a lighthearted context among friends or family, but it can also be employed when someone is being insincere or playing tricks on others.

Origins and Evolution:

The origins of idioms can be elusive, and “tomar el pelo” is no exception. While the exact source remains uncertain, some believe that the expression might have originated from the practice of jesters and minstrels who used to entertain by playing with their audience’s hair, metaphorically speaking. Over time, the phrase became ingrained in the Spanish language, and its usage expanded beyond its literal connotations.

Usage in Everyday Life:

“Tomar el pelo” is a widely used and versatile idiom in Spanish-speaking countries. It finds its way into everyday conversations, adding a touch of humor or affection to interactions. For instance:

  • Friends Teasing Each Other: “¡No te preocupes! Solo te estoy tomando el pelo” (Don’t worry! I’m just teasing you).
  • Parents and Children: “No me tomes el pelo, ¿de verdad tengo que comer todas las verduras?” (Don’t pull my leg, do I really have to eat all the vegetables?).
  • In Romantic Situations: “No me digas que tienes un regalo para mí si solo me estás tomando el pelo” (Don’t tell me you have a gift for me if you’re just joking).

Similar Expressions in Other Languages:

Like many idioms, the concept behind “tomar el pelo” is not unique to Spanish. Other languages have their own equivalent expressions, each with its own cultural flair. For example:

  • In English, we might say “pulling someone’s leg” or “having someone on.”
  • In French, “se moquer de quelqu’un” means “to mock someone.”
  • In Italian, “prendere in giro” is used similarly to “tomar el pelo.”

Learning idioms like “tomar el pelo” adds depth and color to your understanding of a language. Beyond its literal translation, this expression conveys the nuances of playful banter, affectionate teasing, and good-natured jokes that are an integral part of Spanish-speaking culture. So, the next time you encounter “tomar el pelo,” you’ll better prepare yourself to unravel its meaning and join in the playful spirit of this delightful Spanish idiom. ¡Diviértete! (Have fun!)


Safe to use


Never gets old

Vulgar / Formal

Colloquial, but used in many contexts

Literal translation

To grab someone’s hair


Easier ways to express same idea


“Gastar una broma”

Native score

If you don’t learn a language properly, native speakers can “tomarte el pelo”

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