By Henryhbk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Spanish Expressions with Estar: I’m Up to my Nose…

Are you fed up, up to your back teeth?

Are you sick and tired of something or someone?

Take heart and be ready for a giggle.

I love this one!

If you’re fed up with someone or something you can say in Spanish:

I’m up to my nostrils! ¡Estoy hasta las narices! 

This expression has got me into trouble on various occasions when I haven’t been able to keep a straight face or suppress a silly giggle.

Picture the scene: You haven’t been in Spain very long; just long enough to start getting your head around the nuances of the lovely Spanish language. Then there’s a gentleman with a protruding, bulbous nose (it does happen), who coincidently is the director of the language academy where you’re working, (A.K.A.  your new boss).

He turns up late on a Monday morning to the language school and, as usual, blames the traffic for his tardiness. As he walks in late to the staff meeting he announces, in way of apology:

By LHOON (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

His actual words were:


“I’m up to MY NOSE with so much traffic!”


Estoy hasta las narices …Literally “I’m up to my nostrils (or perhaps, up to my noses) of so much traffic!”

Nariz = Nose   Narices = Noses

Because ‘nariz’ ends in Z it’s impossible to make a plural with a simple ‘S’ so the Z changes to ‘C’ and then ‘es‘ is added to make the plural.

Narices = ‘Noses’  but very occasionally ‘Nostrils’

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t try and make yourself invisible in order not be seen stifling a giggle and a hiding a smirk. The scene was worthy of a member of the disaffected youth in a secondary school (perhaps a fifteen-year-old?) taking the mickey out of their Latin master.


I’m up to my back teeth


Carcharodon megalodon, extinct shark.


I think the nearest English equivalent of “Estoy hasta las narices” could be “I’m up to my back teeth!”

  This poor shark pictured above must be ‘up to its back teeth’ with humans having their photo taken in its jaw!

So this is one of my favourite expressions in Spanish, although I must admit I’ve got a few. however, the image that the narices expression conjures up always makes me giggle.


Nostril Alert: (Nostrils makes a bit more sense in English as it’s plural, however, ‘nostrils’ is usually translated as ‘orificios de la nariz’ (orifices of the nose) or  ‘ventanas de la nariz, (windows of the nose)   in Spanish.)

Talking of noses, another interesting use of noses (apart from their prime physiological function, that is) is the interjection;

¡Narices! (Literally “Noses!”)

 A quite light interjection,  equivalent to “Oh Heck!” or “Damn!”

But why the heck “noses” of all things? I ask myself.


Amazingly enough, there are many ways of expressing you are absolutely fed up with something in Spanish. Some of these are far too colourful to be transmitted here in this modest article.

I always thought it was a culture thing. Because I learnt pretty quickly I thought perhaps Spanish society as a whole must be long-suffering and have to put up with so many things of which they had become extremely tired.

Then I started researching the synonyms for this expression in English to write this post and guess what? I discovered there are certainly as many expressions to denote how fed up you are with something in English, if not more than there are in Spanish.

Who knew?

For other expressions with ESTAR , see: Estar a dos velas : Stoney broke!

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  1. Fun post! I’m from Barcelona and although I’ve lived for many years in the UK, I still remember how nonsensical idioms seem when you aren’t used to them. Sometimes one can find where they come from, but regarding bits of body parts, it’s difficult to know. I think one of the first ones I learned was about “a pain in the neck” when somebody who is annoying, but we’d never use that expression in Spanish. I imagine something like: “Es peor que un dolor de muelas” (worse than a toothache) would be it. It can be difficult when you’ve become used to one language because there are expressions that are just perfect and they don’t have an exact translation. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Olga! I’m from UK originally, in Spain for 40 years now, teaching, translating etc. I absolutely love Spanish expressions and find their origins amazing. Translating them Is really fun, trying to find the nearest equivalent possible!
      The ‘dolor de muelas’ / ‘ pain in the neck’ is a good example.
      Salutacions cordials…


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