Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "echar la tijera" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

In the world of idioms, every language has its own unique phrases that can be difficult to understand for non-native speakers. One such phrase in Spanish is echar la tijera. This idiom is commonly used in Spain and Latin America, and it’s important to understand its meaning if you want to communicate effectively with native Spanish speakers.

The Meaning of “Echar La Tijera”

Echar la tijera literally translates to “throwing the scissors”, but this doesn’t give us any insight into what the idiom actually means. In reality, “echar la tijera” is a slang term that refers to cutting or reducing something. It can be used in a variety of contexts, from describing someone who cuts their hair short, to talking about a company that has reduced its workforce.

Examples of Using “Echar La Tijera”

To better understand how this idiom is used in everyday conversation, here are some examples:

  • “La empresa ha echado la tijera y ha despedido a varios empleados.” (The company has cut back and laid off several employees.)
  • “Me he echado la tijera y me he cortado el pelo yo mismo.” (I’ve trimmed my hair myself.)
  • “El gobierno ha decidido echar la tijera en el presupuesto de educación.” (The government has decided to make cuts in the education budget.)


If you’re learning Spanish or planning on visiting a Spanish-speaking country, it’s important to familiarize yourself with common idioms like echar la tijera. Understanding the meaning of this phrase can help you communicate more effectively and avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “echar la tijera”

The origins and historical context of the Spanish idiom echar la tijera are deeply rooted in the cultural and linguistic history of Spain. This expression has been used for centuries to describe a specific action, but its meaning has evolved over time.

Throughout history, scissors have been an essential tool for tailors, barbers, and other craftsmen. In Spain, they were also commonly used by women to cut fabric or trim their hair. As such, scissors became a symbol of precision and accuracy.

Over time, the phrase echar la tijera emerged as a way to describe cutting something with precision or skill. It was often used in reference to tailoring or hairdressing but could also be applied more broadly.

In modern times, the idiom has taken on new meanings depending on the context in which it is used. For example, it can refer to making precise cuts in a budget or trimming excess from a project.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “echar la tijera”

The Spanish idiom echar la tijera is a commonly used expression in everyday conversations. It has several variations depending on the region or country where it is used, but its meaning remains relatively consistent across all contexts.

Variations of “echar la tijera”

  • “Cortar el bacalao” – literally translates to “cutting the codfish,” this variation is commonly used in Spain to mean taking control or being in charge of a situation.
  • “Dar un corte” – this variation is commonly used in Latin America and means to cut off a relationship or communication with someone.
  • “Meter las tijeras” – another variation commonly used in Latin America, this means to interfere or meddle in someone else’s business.

Usage of “echar la tijera”

The most common usage of echar la tijera is when someone wants to express that they are going to cut something out. This can refer to cutting ties with someone, ending a project prematurely, or even quitting a job. The phrase can also be used more figuratively, such as when one wants to convey that they will not tolerate certain behavior from others.

In some cases, echar la tijera can also be used humorously. For example, if someone makes an inappropriate joke at a dinner party, another guest may say something like: “¡Echa las tijeras!” which would translate roughly as: “Cut it out!”

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “echar la tijera”

Some synonyms for echar la tijera include “cortar el hilo” (cut the thread), “romper relaciones” (break relations), and “dar por terminado” (consider it finished). On the other hand, some antonyms could be phrases like “mantener contacto” (maintain contact) or “reconciliarse” (reconcile).

It’s important to note that this idiom can have different connotations depending on the context and culture. In some cases, it may be seen as a necessary step to protect oneself from toxic relationships or situations. However, in others, it may be viewed as a harsh or unforgiving action.

Understanding these nuances can help non-native speakers navigate social interactions more effectively when using this expression. Additionally, being aware of regional variations in meaning can prevent misunderstandings when communicating with people from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “echar la tijera”

In order to truly understand and incorporate the Spanish idiom echar la tijera into your vocabulary, it is important to practice using it in various contexts. Below are some practical exercises that will help you do just that.

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

  • Read a sentence or paragraph that includes the phrase “echar la tijera”.
  • Try to fill in the blank with the correct form of the phrase.
  • Repeat this exercise with different sentences and paragraphs until you feel comfortable using “echar la tijera” correctly.

Exercise 2: Role Play

  • Create a scenario where one person needs to use “echar la tijera” in conversation with another person.
  • Practice this scenario by role playing both parts until you feel confident using the phrase naturally.
  • Vary scenarios and partners to increase your proficiency with “echar la tijera”.

Exercise 3: Writing Practice

  • Select a topic and write a short paragraph or essay including at least one instance of “echar la tijera”.
  • Edit your writing for clarity and accuracy, making sure you have used the phrase correctly within context.
  • Rewrite your piece multiple times, each time incorporating different forms of “echar la tijera”, such as past tense or future tense versions of the idiom.

The more you practice using echar la tijera, whether through filling in blanks, role playing conversations, or writing paragraphs, the more natural it will become in your Spanish vocabulary. With time and dedication, you will be able to use this idiom with ease and confidence.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “echar la tijera”

When using the Spanish idiom echar la tijera, it is important to be aware of common mistakes that can lead to confusion or miscommunication. This idiom, which translates literally to “throw the scissors”, is often used in a figurative sense to mean cutting ties or ending a relationship.

One mistake to avoid when using this idiom is taking it too literally. While the phrase does involve scissors, it should not be interpreted as a physical action of throwing them. Instead, it should be understood as a metaphorical expression for ending something.

Another common mistake is using this idiom in inappropriate contexts. It is typically used in situations where there has been some kind of falling out or disagreement between people, and should not be used casually or jokingly.

Finally, it’s important to remember that idioms can vary regionally and culturally within the Spanish-speaking world. While echar la tijera may be commonly understood in one area, it may not have the same meaning or usage elsewhere.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and understanding the proper usage of this idiom, you can effectively communicate your intentions and avoid any misunderstandings.

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