Dar calabazas

Category: Spain Terms

You’ve probably heard the Spanish idiom “dar calabazas.” And you´ve probably heard it in two very different instances. You might have heard: “Esa chica me dio calabazas” and “en el examen me dieron calabazas.”

Does “dar calabazas” mean the same thing in these two cases? Well, yes and no. They both imply some form of rejection, but each of a different kind. The literal translation of “dar calabazas” is “to give someone pumpkins”, but of course that is not how you should understand it in the 2 cases mentioned.

If you hear: “esa chica me dio calabazas” you should understand “that girl turned me down.” That is: I was interested in starting a romantic relationship with that girl, but she is not interested in me and declined my advances.

In the other case mentioned “en el examen me dieron calabazas,” what you are saying is “I flunked the test.” You are talking about a test given in an academic context and your answers did not meet the teacher’s expectations.

If you hear or read “dar calabazas” in a context other than the two mentioned above, you should refer back to its literal meaning, and that is to give someone pumpkins.