In today’s post Spanish idioms: “Dorar la píldora” we will learn how to use this typical Spanish expression. Our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem, helps you to become fluent by enriching your Spanish with new phrases 😊

Learning Spanish is not just grammar rules, but also get familiar with aspects of the language that are typical and unique and mostly connected with history and culture of a country.

That is why using Spanish idioms will help you improve your speaking skills and make your Spanish sound authentic and fluent.

Before starting, we remind you that the meaning of an idiom is not just the result of the conjoined meanings of the words it is composed of. That is why, in most of the cases idioms cannot be translated literally to another language.

Today we are going to learn how to properly use the Spanish idiom: “dorar la píldora”.

There are two main meanings and usages for this expression:

1. DORAR LA PÍLDORA (a alguien) = to sweeten or sugar the pill

The main meaning is “to sweeten or sugar the pill” (literal translation would be: to “gild the pill”).

The expression indicates the action of softening bad news in order to prevent the people who receive it from very strong reaction (especially, disappointment, anger, etc.).
In other words, to mitigate the negative impact that bad news can have on someone.

For a better understanding of the meaning of this idiom and in what settings it is appropriate to us it, let’ see the examples below:

  • Ya sé que ya no quieres ir de vacaciones conmigo, así que no me dores la pildora con este regalito = I know you don’t want to go on holiday with me anymore, so don’t sugar the pill for me with this small present
  • No quiero que me dores la píldora; ¡dime la verdad de una vez! = I don’t want you to sweeten the pill; tell me the truth once and for all!
  • Andrea tiene que ir al dentista, así que le vamos a dorar la píldora diciéndole que luego vamos a comer un helado = Alma has to go to the dentist, so we’re going to sugar the pill by telling her that we’re going to have ice cream afterwards

2. DORAR LA PÍLDORA (a alguien) = to butter somebody up

That is, to flatter someone in order to get something.

  • El jefe le está dorando la píldora a Raquel porque quiere que ella acepte el nuevo encargo = The boss is buttering up Raquel because he wants her to accept the new assignment
  • Marcos le dora la píldora a Anna porque quiere mudarse a su piso = Marcos butters up Anna because he wants to move into her flat.


The origin of this phrase dates back to ancient times and refers to pharmacists’ habit of covering the hand-made pills with sweet substances and then to burn them.

This way the “golden” coating served to disguise the bitter taste of the chemical compound the pills were made of.

Although nowadays pills are made in laboratories and usually covered with a tasteless coating, the phrase is still being used and is one of the most popular expressions among Spanish-native speakers.

Finally, we hope this short article on Spanish idioms: “Dorar la píldora” will come in handy to you 😊

Last time we talked about another idiom that is very frequently used among Spaniards. See our post on Spanish idioms: “Ponerse las botas” 😉

If your goal for this summer is learning Spanish in Valencia, El Rincón del Tándem is happy to provide you with a friendly and cosy space where you can study Spanish by having fun.

If you plan to take lessons every day, Intensive Spanish course and Standard Spanish course might suit you well.

¡Hasta la próxima!