Colloquial idioms with “lío” in Spanish Hola amigos, today we are going to learn some colloquial idioms with “lío” in Spanish which are both, very colloquial and use the word “lío”.

Today it is time for some Spanish idioms, and this week we are getting social, why? Because in today’s blog I got some colloquial idioms that I think you are going to use, they are so common, and you probably have heard them before, they all have the word “lío” on them, if you do not know what lío means,  you are about to find out.


You know how much I love idioms, in Spain we use them quite often, and they are that common that sometimes one word can be used in several idioms with different meanings and that happens with “lío” in Spanish.

Normally we use lío as “mess”, but as you know in the idioms nothing is as it could seem, so keep that in mind and let’s dive into some new idioms.


Colloquial idioms with “lío” in Spanish

First thing we need to say is that we can use “lío” in several ways.

a)Colloquial idioms which mean to be confused, indecisive, or when in some situations we can’t think or make a proper decision.

In these situations we could use


-Un lío- a mess

I think this is probably the one you might have heard, we use it when something is really untidy


No sé cómo mi hermana puede encontrar algo en su habitación, ¡es un lío!

“I do not know how my sister can find anything in her room, it is a mess!”


We sometimes use it when our thoughts or a situation are a mess, like if you are thinking about going to the party or not…and someone asks you, you could reply


No lo sé quiero ir, pero no sé si debo, tengo mucho que estudiar…es un lío…

“I do not know, I want to go, but I do not know if I should, I have so mych to study…it is a mess…


Or if you have watched the last episode or your favourite tv series but everything is confusing…exciting…but confusing! You could say…


No tengo ni idea de que está pasando, es un lío

“I have no idea what is going on, it is a mess”


-Tener un lío – to have a mess in your head


We could use this idioms in the very same way than the previous one, the difference is that this is more related to you, like taking the example of the serie, it is not like the plot is a mess it is like you have a mess, because there is so much to take on…kind of the same but slightly different.

For example.


No tengo ni idea de que está pasando en la serie, hay demasiados personajes  y tengo un lío…

“I have no idea what is going on in the serie, there are so many characters and I get mixed up…”


#note that we can say instead “tener un cacao” with the same meaning.


-¡Qué lío! = ¡Vaya lío! –what a mess!


Very similar than the ones above, as if you realise they all fall under the category of “being confused or indecisive”

We could use it to say a place is messy…like

If you open one of your drawers and it is very untidy but you want to find something you could say…

¡Qué lío! A ver si ordeno esto porque nunca puedo encontrar nada

“What a mess!I need to tidy this up because I never find anything.”

Or to express that a situation is messy, let’s use the example of the serie, if someone ask you

¿qué piensas del episodio de anoche?-“What do you think about the episode last night?”

And it was a bit confusing, you could say…

¡Qué lío! No sé quién es quién o qué está pasando

“What a mess! I do not know who is who or what is going on”

#note-you could hear “ ¡Qué follón!, ¡Qué jaleo!” meaning the same


-Estar hecho un lío-To be confussed or indecisive


Imagine your friends want to go away for the weekend but you have a family meeting the same weekend, you want to do both, so if it is a tough decision

You would say


No sé que hacer, quiero hacer las dos cosas, estoy hecho un lío

“I do not know what to do, I want to to both things, I am lost”


-Liarse or Hacerse un lío-to confused yourself


Sometimes, and only sometimes we overthink more than we should and something that might be very simple looks like  a bit challenge to us, imagine you are in your Spanish class, and you can understand something, and you do not know if it is difficult or you are just making things difficult for yourself, you could ask the teacher,


No sé si esto es realmente difícil o me estoy haciendo un lío/liando, ¿puedes explicarlo otra vez por favor?

“I do not know if this is very difficult or I am confussing myself/overthinking, can you explain again please?”

  1. b) Colloquial idioms with “lío” used to describe a love relationships

-Tener un lío-to have an affair

Normally we use it for a gossip…it does not matter if we know the person involve we just can say that someone has an affair.

For example.

No te lo vas a creer, pero he oído que Jimena, de recursos humanos tiene un lío

“You are not going to believe but I hear that Jimena, from HR has an affair”

We could also mention the person who is having an affair with if we know, to be even more nosey J

No te lo vas a creer, pero he oído que Jimena, de recursos humanos tiene un lío con Carlos, de ventas

“You are not going to believe but I hear that Jimena, from HR has an affair with Carlos from sales”

#note-sometimes people use “tener una aventura” instead, again, the meaning does not change.

-Estar liado con alguien-date someone

Keep in mind we use this one in a really colloquial way, normally we would say “ellos están saliendo” they are going out or they are dating. But we can say too

¿Has escuchado que Diana está liada con su jefe?

“Have you hear Diana is dating her boss?”

  1. c) When you are busy you can say

-Estoy liado-I am busy

If a colleague asks you for help but you need to finish a report for lunch time you can say

Dame media hora, estoy liada con este informe que tengo que entregar a las 12.30

“Give me half an hour, I am busy with this report I need to finish by 12.30”

  1. d) Liar a alguien, when you get somebody mixed up or involve in something

If you are going to a party you did not want to go but your friends convinced you to go on your way there you will probably think

Ángela me ha liado, no sé que hago yendo a esta fiesta…

“Angela has played this one on me, I do not know what I am doing going to this party”

  1. e) Estar en un lío, if we are in trouble we could use

If someone ask for help and you get involve easily even when you do not have any idea, like some of your friends ask you for your help to build a deck in their garden, you said yes buy you actually have no idea how to build one, but you did not want to say that, you could say…

Estoy en un lío, no sé por qué soy voluntario para estas cosas si no tengo ni idea.

“I am in trouble, I do not know why I am volunteer for these things if I have no idea”

Ok that is the good way “to be in a mess” as at least is one of your friends but we can use it in not such a good context.

If a friend needs money because he borrowed money and now he can’t pay it back he could say

¿Puedes prestarme dinero? Las personas que me dejaron dinero me lo están pidiendo y no puedo pagarles, estoy en un lío.

“Could you let me some money? People who borrowed me the money are asking for it and I can’t pay them back, I am in trouble!”

#note-if the trouble is big we can say “estar en un buen lío”

  1. f) Sometimes we are in a situation that could bring negative consequences, if so we will use

-Buscarse un lío


Imagine your friend from your previous example, the one who asked for money, before everything happened he told you he was thinking about borrowing money, you could probably warned him saying.


No pidas prestado dinero, si luego no puedes devolverlo vas a buscarte un lío

“Do not ask to get money borrowed, if you can’t pay it back later you are going to be in trouble”


-Liarla / liarla parda / liarla gorda


If one of your friend was in charge of the music in a party but he was not the best dj and he did not check the cd’s before the party and the music did not match the music you could explain to your other friends


Óscar la lío parda en la fiesta de Claudia, no había comprobado los discos y la música era horrible.

“Oscar made such a mess in Claudia’s party, he did not check the cd’s and the music was terrible”


-Armar un lío


In the parlament today they were discussing new laws in education but they could not agree in anything so instead they argued, the press could say


Se ha armado un lío debido a la nueva ley de educación

” due to the new education law it has been a terrific  fuss”


-¡La que has liado!

This one is a bit difficult to understand as it does not have a similar equivalent in English.

Imagine that you are having a party and you have invited Miguel and Sara, that they were a couple before, but Miguel “tuvó una aventura” and they broke up, you did not know until one of your friends says to you

¿Has invitado a los dos a la fiesta? ¡La que has liado!

“Have you invited both of them to the party! You have done such a mess!”-kind of , as I said you do not have an equivalent in English so the translation is a bit poor.


  1. g) Meaning you are going to start doing something, in that case we can say

Ir al lío  o ponerse al lío

First thing in the morning you had a meeting, then you go for a coffee with your colleagues, probably after a while you think is time to get some job done so you could say.

Vale, es tiempo de trabajar un poco, ¡voy al lío!

“Ok time to get some work done, I am going to crack on”

Or if your boss asks you to write a report with the notes from the meeting, you could say

No hay problema, me pongo al lío ahora

“No problem, I will work on it now”

And that is all for today amigos, I hope you enjoyed this blog and you can leave saying you have learnt something from it.

Now it is your turn I would love to hear from you

And before you leave make this blog counts! Leave a comment below with one of the idioms and I will check you  got the meaning right. Also I would love to know

-Have you heard/read/used these idioms before?

-Which one are you going to choose and make it your favourite?

-Do you know any other similar idioms?


Looking forward to reading all your comments.

Write you soon.


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