Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "hacerse el longuis" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

In the world of language learning, idioms play a crucial role in understanding the culture and customs of a particular country. One such idiom that is commonly used in Spain is hacerse el longuis. This phrase has a unique meaning that cannot be translated directly into English, making it an interesting topic to explore.

The Origin of “Hacerse el Longuis”

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the Catalan word llonguet, which means “long” or “thin”. Over time, this word evolved into “longui”, which was used to describe someone who was trying to avoid something or pretending not to understand. Eventually, this term became part of everyday Spanish language as “hacerse el longuis”.

The Meaning Behind the Idiom

Hacerse el longuis refers to someone who is intentionally ignoring or avoiding something they know they should address. It could also mean pretending not to understand what someone else is saying in order to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. The person who does this may do so out of fear, laziness, or simply because they don’t want to deal with the situation at hand.

Spanish Phrase: “Hacerse el Longuis”
Literal Translation: “To make oneself thin/long”
Actual Meaning: To ignore or pretend not to understand something on purpose.

Understanding the meaning behind hacerse el longuis is important for anyone looking to learn Spanish, as it is a phrase that is commonly used in everyday conversation. By knowing the history and context of this idiom, you can gain a deeper understanding of Spanish culture and communication.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “hacerse el longuis”

The Spanish language is known for its rich idiomatic expressions that reflect the culture, history, and traditions of Spain. One such expression is hacerse el longuis, which has become a popular phrase used in everyday conversations among native speakers. This idiom has an interesting origin and historical context that sheds light on its meaning and significance.

The origins of hacerse el longuis can be traced back to medieval times when Spain was under Muslim rule. During this period, the Moors introduced their own language and customs to the Iberian Peninsula, which had a significant impact on the development of Spanish culture. The word “longui” comes from Arabic “lawnji,” which means someone who pretends not to understand or ignores what is happening around them.

Over time, this term evolved into longuis in Spanish, referring to someone who feigns ignorance or acts as if they do not know something. The idiom “hacerse el longuis” literally translates to “making oneself a longui,” meaning pretending not to understand or ignoring something deliberately.

In modern times, this expression has become widely used in colloquial speech across Spain and Latin America. It is often employed in situations where someone wants to avoid taking responsibility for something or does not want to get involved in a particular matter.

Understanding the historical context behind this idiom provides insight into how it reflects cultural values such as respect for privacy and avoidance of conflict. By making oneself a longui, one can maintain social harmony by avoiding confrontations or unwanted attention.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “hacerse el longuis”

When it comes to understanding a foreign language, idioms can often be the most challenging aspect. The Spanish language is no exception, with its fair share of unique expressions that may leave non-native speakers scratching their heads. One such idiom is hacerse el longuis, which roughly translates to “to play dumb” or “to act like you don’t know.”

While the basic meaning of this idiom may seem straightforward, there are actually several variations in how it can be used. For example, someone might use this expression to describe a situation where someone else is avoiding responsibility or pretending not to understand something they clearly do. Alternatively, it could refer to someone intentionally ignoring an uncomfortable topic or conversation.

Another variation of this idiom involves using it as a way to describe someone who is being deliberately obtuse or difficult for no apparent reason. In these cases, hacerse el longuis might suggest that the person in question is being intentionally uncooperative or trying to create confusion.

Regardless of how it’s used, understanding the nuances of hacerse el longuis can help non-native speakers better navigate conversations and interactions with Spanish-speaking individuals. By recognizing when someone is using this expression and what they mean by it, you’ll be better equipped to respond appropriately and avoid any misunderstandings.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “hacerse el longuis”


The idiom hacerse el longuis can be translated into English as “to play dumb” or “to act clueless”. Other synonyms for this expression include:

  • “Hacerse el tonto”: to pretend to be foolish
  • “Hacer como que no se entiende”: to act like one doesn’t understand
  • “Fingir ignorancia”: to feign ignorance


The opposite of hacerse el longuis would be expressions that imply being aware and attentive. Some examples include:

  • “Estar al tanto”: to be up-to-date on something
  • “Estar atento/a”: to pay attention
  • “Ser consciente de algo”: to be conscious of something

It is important to note that in some contexts, pretending not to know something can also be seen as a sign of respect towards others. For instance, if someone asks you about a sensitive topic or information that is not meant for public knowledge, it might be more appropriate (and polite) to play dumb rather than sharing what you know.

This cultural nuance highlights the importance of understanding context when using idiomatic expressions such as hacerse el longuis. While they may have literal translations in other languages, their connotations and implications can vary depending on the culture and social norms of the Spanish-speaking community.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “hacerse el longuis”

Exercise 1: Identify the Context

One of the first steps in understanding an idiom is to identify its context. In this exercise, read through a short dialogue or text and try to identify where hacerse el longuis might be used. Write down your observations and discuss with a partner.


Person A: Hey, did you forget about our meeting today?

Person B: *silence*

Person A: Don’t hacerse el longuis on me! We agreed on this yesterday.

Exercise 2: Role Play

Role playing can be a fun way to practice using idioms in conversation. In pairs or small groups, create a scenario where one person is trying to get information from another person who is making excuses or avoiding the topic by hacerse el longuis. Practice using the idiom in different ways until it feels natural.


Person A: I heard there’s going to be a surprise party for Maria next week.

Person B: *avoids eye contact*

Person A: Why are you hacerse el longuis? Are you planning something?

  • Alternate scenarios:
  • – Person A wants to know why Person B hasn’t returned their phone calls.
  • – Person A suspects that Person B ate their lunch from the office fridge.

Exercise 3: Use it in Writing

Writing can also be an effective way to practice using idioms correctly. Choose a topic and write a short paragraph or story using hacerse el longuis in context. Share your writing with a partner and discuss any questions or corrections.


Topic: A coworker who always avoids taking on extra work.

I asked Juan to help me finish the project, but he just hacerse el longuis and said he was too busy. I don’t think he realizes how important this is for the team.

These exercises are just a starting point for practicing the Spanish idiom hacerse el longuis. With time and practice, you’ll be able to use it confidently in everyday conversation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “Hacerse el Longuis”

Mistake Correction
Translating literally The phrase “hacerse el longuis” doesn’t have a direct English equivalent. It means to pretend not to understand or know something when you actually do.
Using it too often This expression should be used sparingly and in appropriate situations. Overusing it can make you sound insincere or dishonest.
Mispronouncing it The correct pronunciation of “hacerse el longuis” is ah-sehr-seh ehl lohn-geese. Mispronouncing it can lead to confusion or misunderstandings.
Misusing the verb tense The correct form of the verb depends on who is doing the pretending – hacer (to do) changes depending on whether the subject is masculine/feminine/singular/plural/etc., so pay attention! For example: Él se hace el longuis (He pretends not to understand).
Using it inappropriately This idiom should only be used in informal situations with people you know well. Using it with strangers or in formal settings can come across as rude or disrespectful.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can use the Spanish idiom hacerse el longuis correctly and effectively. Remember to use it sparingly, pronounce it correctly, pay attention to the verb tense, and use it appropriately!

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