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Expressions with "clavo" (nail).

Hi everyone! Here we go again with a new set of Spanish expressions. Is a nail only a nail in Spanish? Actually it is. But there are several Spanish expressions that include the word “clavo” (nail in Spanish). Let see them:

Clavo: nail

* Dar en el clavo: to strike home

Sometimes this expression can also be translated as “nailed it” and “hit the nail on the head”. These two English idioms are actually a more accurate translations of the Spanish version but “dar en el clavo” has a more extensive meaning that makes better to translate it as "strike home".


Mike’s message about the future of the company seems to have struck home.

El mensaje de Mike sobre el futuro de la compañía parece haber dado en el clavo.

* Estar como un clavo: to be on the dot

It’s difficult to find an equivalent idiom in English. “Estar como un clavo” (usually, “estar allí como un clavo”) means to be at the required location, at the agreed time ready for what needs to be done. It’s a very common expression in Spain.


Tomorrow is your first day at work, I want you to be there at 6 on the dot.

Mañana es tu primer día en el trabajo, quiero que estés allí a las 6 como un clavo.

* Agarrarse a un clavo ardiendo: to clutch at straws

It’s used to express that someone is ready to do whatever it needs to be done to save the situation even if the circumstances or the way you do it are less than ideal.


He trusted that healer because he had clutched at straws to save her life.

Confió en ese curandero porque se hubiera agarrado a un clavo ardiendo por salvar su vida.

* Un clavo saca otro clavo: one nail/poison/devil drives out another

In this case, both languages have a very similar expression but the Spanish version is more usual in the normal speaking than the English one. Anyway, the Spanish version is used related only to relationship scenarios and means that someone just needs to find a new lover to forget the previous one. A good equivalent in English, if a woman is the one who is trying to move on in her life, would be “The quickest way to get over one man is to get under another one”


You need to get over it, remember that one nail drives out another.

Tienes que superarlo, recuerda que un clavo saca otro clavo.

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