Here are two billiards related words that show up in colloquial speech. “Cometer una pifia” means “to commit a miscue”. The colloquial translation is “to goof up”. “Retaco” can mean “short cue” or “sawed off shotgun”. The slang meaning, when applied to a person, is “shorty”.
Since it’s World Cup time, here’s a sports related idiom. “Correr la bola” literally translates to “to roll the ball”. The idiomatic translation is “to spread the word”. I suppose that’s one version of what we do when we “get the ball rolling”.
Here’s an idiom that loosely fits the categories of anatomy (hair) and sports (bullfighting): “cortarse la coleta”. The literal translation is “to cut off the pigtail”. It means “to retire from bullfighting” and “to give up a habit or custom”.
When we decide to enter the fray, we might say we’re going to “throw one’s hat into the ring”. An equivalent idiomatic phrase in Spanish is “saltar a la palestra”, which means “to jump into the arena”. University of Pennsylvania graduates are very familiar with The Palestra, its venerable sports facility, but perhaps not all know it means “arena”. Spanish speakers, in turn, know that “arena” literally means “sand”.
“Dejar que ruede la bola” means “to let the ball roll”. The idiomatic translation is “to let things take their course”.
Anyone who has seen a bullfight will have noticed the barreras (barriers) in the ring that provide refuge when the bull pursues banderilleros. They give rise to the phrase “ver los toros desde la barrera”, which means “to see the bulls from the barrier”. Some equivalent phrases in English are “to sit on the fence”; “to be an onlooker”; and “to sit on the sidelines”.
In English, when we want to describe something that is undecided we might use the phrase “It’s still up in the air” or “The jury’s still out”. In Spanish, one equivalent is “La pelota esta aun en el tejado”, which literally means “The ball is still on the roof”.
We all know the French saying “C’est la vie”. In English, we might say: “That’s the way the cookie crumbles”. Spaniards use a sports based phrase: “Asi es el futbol”, which means “That’s the way soccer is”.
A couple of idioms employing the verb “chupar”, which means “to suck”. “Chupar banquillo” literally translates as “to suck the bench”, a sports term. In English we might say that a “bench-warmer” “rides the pine”. “Chuparle el dinero a uno” translates literally to “to suck money out of someone”. In English we would say “to bleed someone of money”.
Here are two idioms using “esponja” which means “sponge”.
“Tirar (arrojar) la esponja” translates to “To throw in the sponge”. We use this phrase in English, but at least in the U.S. the more common version is “To throw in the towel”, which has its origin in boxing.
“Pasemos la esponja por eso” literally translates to “Let’s pass the sponge over that”. The colloquial translation is “Let bygones be bygones” or “Let’s not talk about that any more”.