Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions

Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions

With the summer holidays now over for most people in Spain, The Local has put together some of the most common and useful slang expressions used in Spanish workplaces to help ease the pain of the return to work.

If you work in Spain or are about to start a Spanish career, it's important to know what your native colleagues are saying when you mingle around the coffee machine at 11am.

What's all this talk of 'finiquito', and why does the word 'enchufado', or plugged in, get mentioned so often?

If you don't want to feel left out of conversations in 'la ofi', and are ready to surprise your Spanish work buddies with your understanding of office politics in Spain, get reading!

Tener enchufe: To have friends in high places. Knowing the right people is a chief concern for many Spanish workers as it's pretty much endemic in all professional fields, especially among the country's political and business elite. To have 'enchufe', which literally means 'a socket' like the one you plug your gadgets into, is often more important than your skills and qualifications for a Spanish employer looking to help out a friend or a relative. You can also describe a person with good connections as 'enchufado', plugged in.

Lameculos: Brown-noser or arse-licker. Spanish speakers have a few other ways of describing colleagues who suck up to the boss or for anyone else who is too eager to please another person: 'pelota' (like ball in Spanish) or 'perrito faldero' (lapdog).

Hacer su agosto: To feather one's nest or make one's pile. If you know someone who found a niche for themselves in the business world and is now making a killing, in Spanish you say they've found their August and they're wrapping themselves up, 'forrarse'. If someone is deemed to have an easy and comfortable working life, Spaniards say they live like a marquis or a king, 'vivir como un marqués' or 'vivir como un rey'.

Un/a trepa: Someone who is moving up the company ladder quickly. That's right, if someone you know is 'going places within a company', or trying to claw their way to the top, you call them a 'climber' in Spanish.

Dar carpetazo: To shelve something. In business Spanish, if a work project or assignment is getting nowhere and you decide to put it aside, you 'smash the file'.

Escurrir el bulto: To pass the buck. When someone cheekily passes off work or responsibilities to other colleagues in the workplace, they 'drain the lump' (as weird as it many sound) in Spanish.

Pringar: To slog it out. Working long hours is commonplace in Spain. Yes, the two-hour lunch break some companies give their workers makes the working day that much longer but 'pringar', which can also mean to get dirty, is what really keeps employees in the office until after the sun has gone down.

Finiquito: The money you get from an employer who sacks you is usually referred to in Spanish with this colloquial term rather than with the more formal 'indemnización'. Unfortunately, there isn't a literal translation for golden parachute or golden handshake; you might say instead the person got a lot of 'pasta' (slang term for money). By the way, 'finiquito' can also be used for the final payment you get when you've completed your contract.

Salir el tiro por la culata: To backfire. This expression can be used outside the workplace for any situation that goes horribly wrong. It literally means 'for the shot to come out through the butt of the gun' and often happens when you can't cope with a huge workload, or 'no dar abasto' in Spanish, as in 'no daba abasto' (I couldn't deal with it).

Chupar del bote: To make a lot of money without having worked hard for it. As far as we know, there isn't an exact idiomatic translation for this expression, which literally means 'to suck from the jar'. Someone who takes advantage of their position to rake in loads of money, perks and favours without having really earned it, is a jar-sucker.

In Association With