Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "hacerse a la mar" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

One such idiom in the Spanish language is hacerse a la mar. This phrase has its roots in the maritime world and refers to setting sail or embarking on a journey by sea. However, its meaning goes beyond this literal interpretation.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “hacerse a la mar”

The origins and historical context of the Spanish idiom hacerse a la mar are deeply rooted in the country’s maritime history. This phrase, which translates to “to set sail,” has been used for centuries by sailors and fishermen as they embarked on their journeys across the sea.

The Age of Exploration

During the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries, Spain was one of the most powerful naval powers in Europe. Its sailors were known for their bravery and skill as they navigated uncharted waters in search of new lands, resources, and trade routes.

Fishing Industry

In addition to exploration, fishing was also an important industry in Spain. Many coastal towns relied heavily on fishing as a source of income, with fishermen setting out to sea each day to bring back their catch.

Over time, hacerse a la mar became synonymous with adventure, risk-taking, and embarking on a journey into the unknown. Today, it is still commonly used in everyday language to describe setting out on any type of journey or endeavor.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “hacerse a la mar”

The Spanish idiom hacerse a la mar is widely used in various contexts to express the idea of embarking on a journey, taking risks or facing challenges. This phrase has been part of the Spanish language for centuries and has evolved over time, giving rise to different variations that are commonly used in everyday conversations.

Variation Meaning
“Hacerse al mar” This variation is commonly used to refer to sailors who set sail from port and venture into the open sea. It can also be used metaphorically to describe someone who leaves their comfort zone and faces new challenges.
“Hacerse de la vista gorda y echarse a la mar” This variation means turning a blind eye to something and setting off on an adventure or taking risks despite potential consequences.
“Hacerse el/la sueco/a y hacerse a la mar” This variation refers to pretending not to understand or know about something while embarking on an adventure or taking risks.

In addition, there are other variations of this idiom that are less common but still convey similar meanings. For example, echar(se) al agua (literally meaning “to throw oneself into the water”) is often used interchangeably with “hacer(se) a la mar.”

The usage of these idioms varies depending on the context and region where they are used. However, all of them share the common idea of embarking on a journey or taking risks despite potential challenges and obstacles.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “hacerse a la mar”


– Embarcarse: To embark

– Navegar: To navigate/sail

– Partir: To depart

– Iniciar un viaje: To start a journey

These synonyms convey similar meanings to hacerse a la mar and can be used interchangeably in certain contexts.


– Quedarse en tierra: To stay on land

– No salir de casa: Not to leave home

These antonyms highlight the contrast between staying put and venturing out on an adventure.

Cultural Insights:

The phrase hacerse a la mar has maritime origins, as it was originally used by sailors who set sail from port towns. It has since evolved into everyday language and is often used metaphorically to describe any kind of departure or new beginning. Additionally, this idiom is frequently heard during Spain’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations when religious processions take place near coastal areas.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “hacerse a la mar”

1. Fill in the Blank:

Read the following sentences and fill in the blank with the correct form of hacerse a la mar.

– Después de graduarse de la universidad, Juan decidió _________ y viajar por el mundo.

– La tripulación del barco se preparó para _________ en medio de una tormenta.

– A pesar del mal tiempo, los pescadores decidieron _________ temprano para tener una buena captura.

2. Role Play:

Get together with a friend or language partner and practice using hacerse a la mar in different scenarios. For example:

– You are planning a sailing trip with your friend. Use hacerse a la mar to discuss your plans and preparations.

– You are at a seafood restaurant discussing where their fish comes from. Use hacerse a la mar to talk about fishing techniques and locations.

3. Writing Exercise:

Write a short paragraph (5-7 sentences) using hacerse a la mar. Try to use it in context and be creative! Here’s an example:

After years of working as an accountant, Maria decided it was time to make some changes in her life. She had always dreamed of ___________ and exploring new places, so she quit her job and bought herself a small sailboat. Now she spends her days ___________ whenever she can, enjoying the freedom that comes with being out on open water.

By practicing these exercises regularly, you’ll soon find yourself using hacerse a la mar with ease and confidence. ¡Buena suerte!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “hacerse a la mar”

When using the Spanish idiom hacerse a la mar, it is important to understand its meaning and context. This phrase is commonly used in Spain and Latin America, and it refers to setting sail or embarking on a journey.

Avoid Literal Translation

One common mistake when using this idiom is translating it literally. While hacerse means “to make oneself” and “mar” means “sea”, the phrase as a whole does not mean “making oneself into the sea”. Instead, it should be understood as an expression for starting an adventure or taking risks.

Be Mindful of Regional Differences

Another mistake to avoid is assuming that this idiom has the same meaning across all Spanish-speaking countries. In some regions, such as Mexico, it may have a more negative connotation related to leaving behind responsibilities or abandoning something. It’s important to consider the cultural context before using this phrase.

  • Avoid using this idiom in professional settings where formal language is expected.
  • Don’t use this expression if you are unsure of its meaning or proper usage.
  • If you’re learning Spanish, practice using idioms in context with native speakers or through language exchange programs.
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