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Tener cola de paja

 

An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not readily apparent based on the individual words in the expression. This forum is dedicated to discussing idioms and other sayings.


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Old May 12, 2017, 08:59 AM
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Tener cola de paja

Reading the last tweets from president Trump, I thought "tiene cola de paja", meaning (I'll try to define the notion in my own words expanding on this event) "he knows that he has been caught telling lies and contradicting himself so he's afraid of making a blunder and be accused with a massive 'liar, liar, pants on fire' "

A person who "tiene cola de paja" is very careful about what they do, as they have vulnerabilities -a straw tale- that may caught fire on the slightest distraction.

Is there an English equivalent?
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Old May 12, 2017, 10:59 AM
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I believe powder keg can be used, but context must be added. A person who is a powder keg (like Trump) is someone who is likely to explode at the slightest provocation. A circumstance that is a powder keg is one that may need to be handled gingerly to avoid a big boom. North Korea is currently one of the world's powder kegs.
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Old May 14, 2017, 05:01 PM
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I guess Poli's option is somewhat valid, but I understand "powder keg" in Spanish as "polvorín" or "barril de pólvora".

I never heard the expresión "tener cola de paja"..., but probably "not have a leg to stand on" could be something similar.

http://www.tomisimo.org/idioms/en/no...nd-on-828.html

Or "to have two strikes against one"...

Saludos cordiales.
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Old May 14, 2017, 06:00 PM
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I think if you have a tail of straw, it's in danger of catching fire. Having a cola de paja is dangerous, even unwittingly dangerous. If you are a powder keg you will explode at the light of a match--perhaps more dangerous than a having a straw tail.
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Old May 14, 2017, 07:28 PM
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Thank you, but I think I failed to get its meaning through. "Cola de paja" is widely used here and it is the literal translation from Italian "coda di paglia", meaning basically "having a guilty conscience".

Translating from the Wikipedia article on the subject:

"Having a straw tail is an expression in Italian that indicates the psychological situation of those who, aware of having committed some misdeed, do not have a clear conscience and, therefore, fear being discovered and become alarmed on the least unfavourable allusions, make excuses without being accused, and react impulsively to criticisms or observations.

The probable origin of the expression goes back to the Middle Ages practice of humiliating the defeated or condemned by attaching to them a tail of straw with which they were forced to leave the city at risk of someone burning it up as a gesture of further mockery. Another possible source of the saying is related to the tale by Aesop, telling how a fox lost his tail in a bear-trap and substituted it with a prosthetic one made of straw..."
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Old May 14, 2017, 08:06 PM
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Thank you Alec.

Then maybe something like "wracked with guilt" or "racked with guilt" could do the trick?

... Having a guilty conscience, is what appears here,

http://ase.tufts.edu/biomedical/unolab/sayings.html

¡Saludos!

A mira, aquí ya se ha hablado del tema también:

"he who excuses himself, accuses himself"—an unprovoked excuse is a sign of guilt.
https://forum.wordreference.com/thre...e-paja.140094/
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Last edited by JPablo; May 14, 2017 at 08:12 PM.
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