Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "irse al otro barrio" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

The Spanish language is rich with idiomatic expressions that convey a wide range of meanings. One such idiom is irse al otro barrio, which has a figurative meaning that may not be immediately clear to non-native speakers. This expression is commonly used in Spain and Latin America, and it refers to the act of dying or passing away.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “irse al otro barrio”

The Spanish language is rich in idioms, expressions that convey a particular meaning that cannot be understood from the literal definition of each word. One such idiom is irse al otro barrio, which translates to “go to the other neighborhood” in English. This expression is commonly used to refer to someone’s death, but what are its origins and historical context?

It is believed that this idiom dates back to medieval times when cities were divided into different neighborhoods or districts based on social status or occupation. The wealthy lived in one part of town while the poor lived in another. When someone died, their body was taken to the cemetery located in their own neighborhood for burial.

Over time, this practice changed as cemeteries became overcrowded and new ones had to be built outside city limits. As a result, people started using the expression irse al otro barrio as a euphemism for dying because they were being buried in a different neighborhood than where they lived.

Today, this idiom has become an integral part of Spanish culture and language, often used humorously or ironically when referring to death. It serves as a reminder of how language evolves over time and how historical context can shape our understanding of words and expressions.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “irse al otro barrio”

The Spanish language is rich in idioms that are used to express different emotions, situations, and ideas. One such idiom is irse al otro barrio, which translates to “go to the other neighborhood” in English. This idiom is commonly used to refer to someone’s death or passing away.

However, there are also variations of this idiom that are used in different contexts. For example, some people use the phrase irse al otro mundo instead of “irse al otro barrio.” Both phrases have a similar meaning but may be more appropriate depending on the situation.

Another variation of this idiom is cambiar de barrio, which means “change neighborhoods.” This phrase can be used when someone moves from one place to another or when they change their lifestyle or habits.

It’s important to note that idioms like these are often deeply rooted in culture and history, so their usage may vary depending on where you are in the Spanish-speaking world. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with local customs and language nuances before using any idiomatic expressions.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “irse al otro barrio”


The Spanish language is rich with idiomatic expressions that convey similar meanings to irse al otro barrio. Some common synonyms include:

Spanish English Translation
Morir To die
Pasar a mejor vida To pass on to a better life
Casarse con la parca (colloquial) To marry death (slang)

Note that some of these synonyms may have slightly different connotations or levels of formality compared to irse al otro barrio.


In contrast to the idea of passing away, there are also several antonyms that express the opposite sentiment. These phrases typically refer to being alive or well. Examples include:

Spanish English Translation
Estar vivo/a como una rosa To be as lively as a rose
Estar en plena forma To be in top shape
Estar sano/a como una manzana To be as healthy as an apple

Understanding the synonyms and antonyms of irse al otro barrio can provide a more nuanced understanding of this Spanish idiom. It also sheds light on how different cultures view death and dying.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “irse al otro barrio”

Are you looking to improve your understanding and usage of the Spanish idiom irse al otro barrio? Look no further than these practical exercises that will help you master this common phrase.

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a blank space where irse al otro barrio should go. Choose the correct form of the idiom to fill in the blank.

  • “My grandfather ___________ last year.”
  • “When I heard about his accident, I thought he had ___________.”
  • “I don’t want to think about what would happen if my dog ever ___________.”

Exercise 2: Role Play

In this exercise, pair up with a friend and practice using irse al otro barrio in conversation. One person can play the role of someone who has recently lost a loved one, while the other person can offer condolences using the idiom.

  • Person A: “I’m really sorry for your loss.”

    Person B: Thank you. It’s been tough since my grandmother ___________.

    Person A: “I understand. Losing someone is never easy.”

  • Person A: “Did you hear about John’s car accident?”

    Person B: No, what happened?

    Person A: He was hit by a truck and everyone thought he had ___________.

    Person B: “Oh my gosh! Is he okay now?”

  • Person A: “Your cat looks like it’s getting old.”

    Person B: Yeah, she is. I worry about her health sometimes.

    Person A: “I know what you mean. I don’t want to think about my dog ever ___________.”

Exercise 3: Writing Practice

In this exercise, write a short paragraph using irse al otro barrio in context. You can write about a personal experience or create a fictional scenario.

  • “Last year, my neighbor’s cat suddenly disappeared and we all thought she had ___________. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we found out she had just been hiding under the porch of another house. We were all relieved to see her again.”
  • “When I was younger, I used to have nightmares about my parents ___________. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how silly those fears were.”
  • “My friend’s grandmother recently passed away and it’s been hard for her family. They’re all trying to come to terms with the fact that she has ___________, but they take comfort in knowing she lived a long and fulfilling life.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “irse al otro barrio”

When using idioms in a foreign language, it’s important to be aware of their nuances and potential pitfalls. The Spanish idiom irse al otro barrio is no exception. This expression, which literally means “to go to the other neighborhood,” is used colloquially to refer to someone passing away. However, there are certain common mistakes that non-native speakers should avoid when using this phrase.

Avoiding Literal Translations

One of the most common mistakes when using idioms is trying to translate them word-for-word from one language to another. While this may work for some expressions, it often leads to confusion or even offense when dealing with more complex phrases like irse al otro barrio. It’s important to understand the cultural context behind an idiom and use it appropriately rather than relying on a direct translation.

Being Sensitive in Context

Another mistake that non-native speakers make with this particular idiom is failing to consider its sensitivity in certain contexts. While it may be acceptable among close friends or family members who share a dark sense of humor, using this phrase inappropriately can come across as disrespectful or insensitive. It’s important to be mindful of the situation and audience before using any idiomatic expressions related to death or loss.

  • Avoid literal translations
  • Be sensitive in context
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