“Estar en la cuerda floja”

Spanish expression of the week La cuerda floja by Rodmell House

Ex. “Tantos errores en el trabajo le han hecho estar en la cuerda floja.”

Translation: “He has to walk on a tightrope at work cause of all the mistakes he’s made.”

What does it mean?

It means that someone is in a risky situation, just like a tightrope walker. In English, we say that we have to walk on a tightrope, whereas in Spanish, you say that you are on a tightrope. The Spanish expression uses the verb “estar,” i.e., “Estoy en la cuerda floja en mi trabajo ahora,” meaning, “I’m in a risky situation at work right now.”

What’s the origin?

La cuerda floja means a tightrope in English. This is interesting, because it translates literally from Spanish into English as “the loose rope.” Whereas in English we think of a tightrope as being tense, in Spanish, it is conceived of as being “floja”, which also means unstable, unreliable or weak.

One more example for the road:

Ex. “Mi director del colegio me ha dicho que estoy en la cuerda floja en mis clases y que me tengo que poner las pilas.”

Translation: “My principal told me that I’m really pushing it in school and have to get my act together.”

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