Here comes a new post on typical Spanish expressions! In Spanish idioms: Salvarse por los pelos, we will explain the origin of this expression and when to use it. Our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem is happy to help you master Spanish as you were a native Spanish speaker 😊

Spanish is not just studying grammar, but also getting familiar with aspects of the language that has to do with the culture and history of the country.

That is why being able to use Spanish idioms, especially in informal settings and conversation, will help all Spanish learners sound like native Spanish-speakers.

Have you ever heard the expression “salvarse por los pelos”? 😊

Salvarse por los pelos refers to a situation where someone manages to get out of a trouble or a hazardous and uneasy situation at the very last minute, with a great effort or by chance.

This expressions dates back to the reign of José I Bonaparte (Napoleon’s) brother in Spain. In 1809 the king issued a law that ordered the sailors to cut their hairs. The king was accustomed to the impeccable appearance of French sailors (short hair and shaved beards) and wanted to impose the same aesthetic on Spanish sailors.

Nevertheless, his law led to many protests from the sailors since wearing their hair long was for them not a matter of aesthetics but of utility.

In a letter, a group of sailors explained to the king that, on several occasions, some sailors had been saved by being pulled out of the water by their long hair after falling into the sea accidentally.

This expression keeps being used across the centuries and it is still one of the most frequently idiom used among Spaniards.

In the examples below we can see a couple of situations where this Spanish idiom can be used :

Hoy teníamos que haber hecho el test de historia pero la profesora decidió aplazarlo al ultimo momento. Yo no había estudiado así que me salvé por los pelos = Today we were supposed to do the history test but the teacher decided to postpone it at the last minute. I hadn’t studied, so I narrowly escaped

Una moto pasó a toda velocidad y casi atropella a mi perro. Por suerte pudo esquivarlo y el perro se salvó por los pelos = A motorbike sped past and almost ran over my dog. Luckily, he was able to avoid it and the dog narrowly escaped

Había mucho tráfico de camino al aeropuerto y por los pelos no perdí el avión = There was a lot of traffic on the way to the airport and I narrowly missed my flight.

Esta mañana el gato se cayó en la piscina…por suerte lo vi y enseguida lo saqué del agua. ¡Pobre gato! Se salvó por los pelos = This morning the cat fell in the pool…luckily, I saw him and inmediatly pulled him out of the water. ¡Poor cat! He was saved narrowly

We hope this article on Spanish idioms: “Salvarse por los pelos” helped you use this expression when speaking Spanish with your friends 😊

If you want to enrich your speech with expressions of colloquial language, take a look at our previous post Spanish idioms: “montar un pollo”.

Lastly, our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem is glad to provide you with Spanish lessons here in Valencia.
If you want to learn Spanish and do it intensively, you might be interested in our Intensive Spanish course.

¡Hasta pronto!