Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "darse de narices" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

In essence, darse de narices means to fail or make a mistake. It can be used in a variety of contexts, from academic or professional settings to personal relationships. Understanding this idiom is crucial for effective communication with native Spanish speakers.

While the origins of this phrase are unclear, it has become a common expression throughout Spain and Latin America. Its usage varies slightly depending on regional dialects and cultural nuances.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “darse de narices”

The idiom darse de narices is a commonly used expression in the Spanish language, which refers to falling or failing unexpectedly. The phrase has its roots in the rich history and culture of Spain, dating back to ancient times when it was first coined.

The Origins of the Phrase

The exact origins of this idiom are unclear; however, many experts believe that it may have originated from bullfighting. In bullfighting, if a matador falls or fails to kill the bull with one strike, he is said to have given himself up to his nose, which is where the phrase “darse de narices” comes from.

Historical Context

Throughout Spain’s history, there have been many instances where people have fallen or failed unexpectedly. This could be seen during battles or wars when soldiers were caught off guard by their enemies. It could also be seen in everyday life when people faced unexpected challenges and setbacks.

In modern times, this idiom has become a part of everyday conversation for Spaniards. It can be used in various situations such as sports events when an athlete falls during a competition or even in business meetings when someone makes a mistake that costs them money.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “darse de narices”

When it comes to understanding idioms in a foreign language, it’s not just about knowing their literal translation. It’s also important to know how they are used in different contexts and variations. The Spanish idiom darse de narices is no exception.


Darse de narices literally translates to “to give oneself noses,” but its meaning is closer to “to fall flat on one’s face.” This expression is often used when someone fails at something or experiences an unexpected setback. For example, if you’re trying to learn a new skill and you fail miserably, you could say that you “te has dado de narices.”

However, this idiom can also be used more broadly to describe any situation where things don’t go as planned. For instance, if your plans for the weekend fall through unexpectedly, you might use this expression as well.


Like many idioms, darse de narices has several variations that add nuance or emphasis to its meaning. Here are some examples:

– Darse un buen/nuevo/nuevo buen golpe: This variation adds intensity by emphasizing the force of the fall.

– Dar con los huesos en el suelo: This variation emphasizes the physical aspect of falling by using the word for bones (huesos).

– Pegársela/dársela contra algo: These variations specify what caused the fall by adding a preposition (pegar or dar) followed by an object (la pared -the wall-, el suelo -the ground-, etc.).

Knowing these variations can help you understand native speakers better and make your own speech sound more natural.

  • To summarize:
  • “Darse de narices” means “to fall flat on one’s face.”
  • It can be used to describe any situation where things don’t go as planned.
  • Variations add nuance or emphasis to the idiom’s meaning.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “darse de narices”


  • Caerse de bruces – to fall flat on one’s face
  • Tropezar – to trip or stumble
  • Chocar contra algo – to collide with something
  • Fracasar – to fail or be unsuccessful
  • Desplomarse – to collapse or crumble


  • Mantener el equilibrio – to maintain balance
  • Caminar con seguridad – to walk confidently
  • Tener éxito – to succeed
  • Ganar terreno- to make progress
  • Aterrizar suavemente- to land softly

Culturally, darse de narices is a common expression used in Spain and Latin America. It refers not only physical falls but also metaphorical failures. The phrase can be used humorously among friends or seriously in professional settings. In some contexts, it may even be considered rude or inappropriate. Understanding the nuances of this idiom is important when communicating with Spanish speakers.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “darse de narices”

In order to fully grasp the meaning and usage of the Spanish idiom darse de narices, it is important to practice using it in various contexts. Here are some practical exercises that will help you become more familiar with this expression.

Exercise 1: Write a short story or dialogue that includes the phrase darse de narices. Be creative and try to use different tenses and forms of the verb.

Exercise 2: Watch a Spanish movie or TV show and pay attention to any instances where characters use the expression darse de narices. Take note of how it is used in context.

Situation Sentence Using “Darse de Narices”
You trip while walking down the street. “Me di de narices en la acera.”
You fail an exam after studying hard. “Me he dado de narices con el examen.”
You attempt a new recipe but it turns out badly. “Nos dimos de narices con la cena que preparamos.”

Exercise 3: Practice using synonyms for darse de narices in conversation or writing. Some examples include: fracasar, tropezar, fallar, chocar contra un muro (to crash into a wall).

By practicing these exercises, you will gain a better understanding of how to use the Spanish idiom darse de narices effectively in your own communication.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “darse de narices”

When using idioms in a foreign language, it’s easy to make mistakes. The Spanish idiom darse de narices is no exception. This expression can be tricky to use correctly, and there are some common mistakes that learners should avoid.

One mistake is using the expression too literally. Darse de narices does not mean to physically hit your nose against something. Instead, it means to fail or fall flat on your face in a figurative sense. Another mistake is using the wrong preposition with the phrase. It should be “darse de narices con”, not “en” or “por”.

Additionally, learners may mistakenly use this expression in inappropriate situations or contexts. For example, it would not be appropriate to use this idiom when talking about a serious accident or injury.

To avoid these common mistakes, learners should take time to understand the meaning and proper usage of the idiom before attempting to use it themselves. They can also practice with native speakers or language tutors for feedback and guidance.

Common mistake:

Using the expression too literally

Correct usage:

Darse de narices means failing or falling flat on your face figuratively.

Common mistake:

Using the wrong preposition

Correct usage:

The correct preposition is con.

Common mistake:

Using the idiom in inappropriate situations or contexts

Correct usage:

Use the idiom appropriately and avoid using it in serious or sensitive situations.

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