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Love Talk

"Me estaba tirando los tejos" literally means "He was throwing roof tiles at me".

Since living in Spain, I have frequently come across an expression that leaves me feeling puzzled. “Me estaba tirando los tejos,” said Sandra, meaning that someone had been flirting with her.

For anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish, this sentence taken literally can be inferred as, “He was throwing roof tiles at me.” To me, it has always sounded an extreme way to talk about romance.

In a similar vein, I have also heard, “Me estaba tirando los trastos”, which means, “He was throwing pieces of junk at me”. Where do these strange analogies come from?

A little online delving revealed that “tirar las tejos” probably comes from a game played out in the streets by local men called “Tejo”, which consisted of using broken pieces of tiles that had fallen down from rooftops to take aim at a target, much like bowls still played in town squares around Spain today.

When a girl that one of the men had taken a shine to walked past, he would aim his “tejo” near her feet and, with the pretext of collecting it, would then have the opportunity to go and talk to her. A far more romantic expression then I had previously thought then, though how this evolved into “throwing pieces of junk” is still a mystery to me.

On doing a Facebook survey amongst my English-speaking friends to see if there was any equivalent of Spain’s romantic vision of flirting, I received a torrent of responses, which included words such as the old fashioned “courting”, “wooing”, “stepping out” and even “spooning,” from the 1940s, to “pulling” from the 1970s and 1980s, which has made a comeback today, and London-based “shmarming”, “sniffing around” and, perhaps my favourite of all, “chirpsing,” from the 1990s.

Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the expressions in English really does justice to the Spanish “tirar los tejos”, but if anyone else wants to “hand me a line” on this subject I’d love to hear from you.


Genevieve Shaw és copywriter i traductora freelance en anglès amb més de 12 anys d'experiència. És especialitzada en màrqueting, cultura, turisme, salut & wellness. Per saber més, visita o envia un email.

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