Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "hacer la corte" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish
Etymology: Literally, “to do the court”.

The exact origin of this idiom is unclear, but it has been in use for centuries. Some historians believe that it may have originated during medieval times when knights would literally court ladies by performing acts of chivalry and devotion.

Others suggest that it may have evolved from a more general meaning of making an effort to please someone, which was then applied specifically to romantic pursuits.

Usage and Cultural Significance

Today, hacer la corte is most commonly used to describe someone who is trying to win over another person’s affection or favor. This can refer to romantic pursuits or simply trying to impress someone in a professional or social setting.

In some cultures, such as Spain and Latin America, there is a strong emphasis on traditional gender roles when it comes to courtship. Men are expected to take on a more active role in pursuing women while women are encouraged to be coy and demure.

However, these gender roles are changing with modernization and increased equality between genders. Today, both men and women can make efforts to court each other without adhering strictly to traditional expectations.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “hacer la corte”

The idiom hacer la corte is a common expression in Spanish that refers to the act of courting or trying to win someone’s favor. The origins of this phrase can be traced back to medieval times when knights would try to impress their ladies by performing chivalrous acts.

The Medieval Origins

In medieval Spain, courtly love was a popular concept among knights and noblewomen. It was a code of behavior that emphasized chivalry, romance, and devotion. Knights would often perform heroic deeds in order to impress their ladies and win their affection.

As time passed, the term corte (court) began to take on a broader meaning, referring not only to the physical location where kings and queens held court but also to the social circle surrounding them. In this context, “hacer la corte” came to mean ingratiating oneself with those in power or attempting to gain favor through flattery or other means.

The Modern Usage

Today, hacer la corte is still used in Spanish-speaking countries as an idiomatic expression for trying too hard to please someone or seeking approval from others through excessive flattery or attention-seeking behaviors.

This idiom has become so ingrained in modern Spanish language that it is often used without any reference to its historical roots. However, understanding its origins provides insight into how language evolves over time and how cultural practices shape our expressions.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “hacer la corte”

When it comes to speaking Spanish, idioms are an essential part of the language. One such idiom that you may come across is hacer la corte. This phrase is used in various contexts and has several variations depending on the region where it’s spoken.


In general, hacer la corte means to court someone or try to gain their favor. It can also refer to trying to impress someone or flatter them. However, this idiom can have different nuances depending on how it’s used.


The usage of hacer la corte can vary from country to country within the Spanish-speaking world. In some regions, for example, it’s more common to use the phrase “echar los perros” instead of “hacer la corte,” which literally translates as “to throw the dogs.” In other places, people might say “tirar los tejos,” which means something like “throwing darts.”

Another variation of this idiom is adding a preposition after it. For instance, in Mexico and Central America, people often say hacerle la corte a alguien, which means specifically courting someone romantically.


Hacer la corte can be used in various situations. For instance, if you’re trying to get a job or impress your boss at work, you might say that you’re making an effort to do so by saying something like: Estoy haciendo la corte al jefe para que me dé un ascenso (I’m courting my boss so he’ll give me a promotion).

On another note, if you’re talking about someone who’s constantly flattering others or trying too hard to impress them, you might say: Ese chico siempre está haciendo la corte a todo el mundo (That guy is always trying to court everyone).

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “hacer la corte”


There are several synonyms for hacer la corte in Spanish. Some of them include:

Spanish English Translation
cortejar to court/to woo
adular to flatter/to butter up
seducir to seduce/to charm


The opposite of hacer la corte would be to ignore or reject someone. Some antonyms include:

Spanish Word(s) English Translation(s)
ignorar/rechazar/despreciar/abandonar a alguien To ignore/reject/disregard/abandon someone

Cultural Insights

Hacer la corte is a common expression used in Spain and Latin America. It refers to the act of trying to impress or win over someone through flattery or other means. This can be seen in various social settings such as dating, job interviews, or even among friends.

In some cultures, such as in Spain, hacer la corte is seen as a positive trait and is often encouraged. However, in other cultures, such as in some Latin American countries, it may be viewed as insincere or manipulative.

It’s important to understand the cultural context of this idiom when using it in conversation with Spanish speakers. Depending on the situation and culture, hacer la corte can have different connotations and implications.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “hacer la corte”

In order to truly understand and incorporate the Spanish idiom hacer la corte into your vocabulary, it is important to practice using it in various contexts. Below are some practical exercises that will help you become more comfortable with this phrase.

Exercise 1: Conversation Practice

  • Find a language exchange partner or friend who speaks Spanish fluently.
  • Start a conversation with them and try to use the idiom “hacer la corte” at least once during your discussion.
  • If you’re having trouble thinking of a natural way to use the phrase, try asking your partner if they’ve ever had someone try to impress them by doing something special or out of the ordinary.

Exercise 2: Writing Practice

  1. Pick a topic related to relationships or dating (for example, first dates, long-term relationships, etc.).
  2. Write a short story or anecdote that includes the idiom “hacer la corte”.
  3. If you’re struggling with how to incorporate the phrase into your writing naturally, think about how one character might be trying to impress another character in some way.

The key to mastering any new language is consistent practice. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you’ll become more comfortable using hacer la corte in everyday conversations and written communication. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – learning from them is an essential part of becoming fluent in any language!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “hacer la corte”

When it comes to speaking a foreign language, idioms can be tricky. They often have meanings that are not immediately obvious and can lead to confusion if used incorrectly. The Spanish idiom hacer la corte is no exception.

One common mistake when using this idiom is assuming that it has the same meaning as the English phrase to court someone. While both expressions involve showing interest in another person, “hacer la corte” specifically refers to trying to win someone’s favor or approval through flattery or other means.

Another mistake is using the expression too casually. In some contexts, such as in a professional setting, attempting to hacer la corte could come across as insincere or manipulative. It’s important to consider the appropriate level of formality and sincerity when using this idiom.

Finally, it’s important not to confuse hacer la corte with similar expressions like “cortar el bacalao”, which means to hold a position of power or authority. Mixing up these idioms could lead to misunderstandings and awkward situations.

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