Too big for your boots: "Más chulo que un ocho"


"Más chulo que un ocho": a well-known Spanish expression


Recently, I was chatting to a friend of mine who is from Madrid. She slipped a well-known Spanish expression into the conversation, which went something like, “Es más chulo que un ocho”. The expression means, “He (or she) is arrogant” or, “He is a real show off”. Literally speaking, however, it translates as, “He is more arrogant than an eight”.

Where does it come from?

“Where does it come from?” I asked my friend. She explained that the expression originates from late 19th – early 20th century Madrid. At that time, the number eight tram crossed the city, taking “chulapos” and “chulapas” — a group of young working class people who dressed in a characteristic way and behaved somewhat recklessly — to a dance, held on 15 May for the celebrations of St. Isidore, a Catholic patron saint.


Expressions in English to say someone is "full of it"


Our conversation made me think about expressions in English to say that someone is arrogant, and talking to friends clarified that there are many.

Here are just a few:

  1. He is too big for his boots

  2. He thinks he’s Lord Muck

  3. He is all mouth no action

  4. He is a blowhole (Irish)

  5. He is a blowbag (Old Scottish)

  6. He thinks he is Archie/Erchie (Scottish)

  7. He thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread

  8. He thinks he is the cat’s pyjamas

  9. He thinks he is the bee’s knees

  10. He thinks he is Donald Trump (US)

  11. He is the big cheese

  12. He is the cock of the walk

  13. He is the cock of the north

  14. He is Billy Big Bollix

  15. He is Hubert Hubris​


Even though I have used “he” in the examples above, “she” could apply, albeit not equally. Definitely not number 12 or 13, correct me if I am wrong!


What is your favourite?

I intend to find out more about where some of these expressions in English originate from and share my findings with you in a future blog post. Meanwhile, why not try out a few expressions from the colourful collection above? If you can think of any more, I’d love to hear from you, and don’t forget to let me know your favourite! I like number 1.