Ex. “A Carlos le gusta probar cualquier plato raro que pueda encontrar. Como él siempre dice: ‘lo que no mata engorda.’”
Translation: “Carlos likes eating any strange food he can find. Like he always says, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’”
What does it mean?
We use this expression when somebody eats too much or something that is either unhealthy or strange. Its literal translation is: what doesn’t kill you makes you fat.
The closest equivalent in English would be: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, although in Spanish it’s slightly different as we only use it when talking about food. However, we do have another variant of this expression in Spanish that has the exact same meaning as the English expression. It goes: ‘lo que no mata, te hace más fuerte.’
So don’t be shy — start saying them! Next time you’re traveling in Spain and afraid of trying something new, remember: ‘lo que no mata engorda.’ This will come especially in handy when trying the country’s odder delicacies, such as pig ears or tripe!
What’s the origin of this expression?
Many years ago, being a bit chubby or overweight was considered a good thing, as it was a sign of being in good health and being able to afford to eat well. It essentially meant that you should eat everything and anything you could get your hands on, and if that meant gaining a few pounds (or kilos), even better!
Another example for the road:
Ex. “Cuando probé los insectos por primera vez, me dije a mi mismo: ‘lo que no mata engorda!’ Y lo comí tan a gusto.”
Translation: “When I ate insects for the first time, I told myself: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’ And I enjoyed it.”