Now that Christmas is in full swing, learning the meaning and uses of the verb tocar can be synonymous with joy. Who wouldn’t want to win the jackpot (tocar el Gordo)?
At Christmas time, one of the most heard expressions in the streets of Spain is “ojalá me toque el gordo” (I hope I win the jackpot). As you know, Spain is synonymous with traditions and one of them is playing the Christmas lottery. Naming everything is a very Spanish thing to do and it couldn’t be otherwise with the biggest prize in the lottery, which we call El Gordo. It is not the biggest prize that can be won compared to other games of chance, but it is part of the magic of Christmas to play it and above all it is a tradition.
With this explanation we can already deduce the meaning of “Tocar el Gordo” meaning “winning the lottery”. We do not only use the expression “tocar el Gordo” for El Gordo de la Navidad, but for all kinds of games of chance. This means that if we hear someone say “Me ha tocado la lotería” (“I won the lottery”) we should understand that they have won some money playing a game of chance.
Before we win the lottery, people in the street sing Christmas carols and “toca la zambomba y la pandereta” (play the zambomba and the tambourine). Two traditional Christmas instruments that also use the verb tocar. In these expressions, the verb tocar means “to play” a musical instrument.
Another expression for the verb tocar is “tocar la puerta” (to knock on the door), which we are sure you have heard while studying Spanish at our school. Here the verb tocar means to knock, and it can be used both to knock on the door and to ring the doorbell, although it is more common to use it when someone knocks on the door to ask for permission to enter.
Finally, we are going to look at two expressions which are a bit more negative, such as: “tocar las narices” and “tocar fondo”.
“Tocar las narices”. This is a very common expression in Spain. The expression “tocar las narices” is used when someone is annoying you or bothering you, and you can use it to make him/her stop. If someone gets really annoying and bothers you, you can say… “deja de tocarme las narices” (Literally: “stop touching my nose”). At this point, this person should realize that he/she is being annoying and should stop behaving that way. 🙂
“Tocar fondo”. Although the literal meaning may refer to a sinking ship, the expression is used when someone is depressed or hits rock bottom.
It is more than just being sad; it is used when you are at your worst and nothing can get worse.