Where does this expression come from?

I read the following:

He nombrado a más de 500 altos cargos y dos me han salido rana.

I understand the general meaning and idea behind the use of "rana".

Could someone give some context on its origin and its usage?

Source: El País


2 Answers 2


Salir rana es una expresión muy antigua. Según el Diccionario de dichos y frases hechas de Alberto Buitrago (Espasa), la expresión era antiguamente “salga pez o salga rana”, y aunque en su origen fue propio de los pescadores, se acabó empleando en la lengua coloquial para indicar que algo que se iba hacer saliera bien (pez) o mal (rana). Hoy usamos la versión reducida, es decir, que sólo usamos la parte de “salir rana” para indicar que algo no ha salido como esperábamos o que directamente nos salido mal.



Like Yay points out, it's a colloquial expression we use in Spain to say that something didn't go as expected but not in a dramatic way.

If we take the news from El País, we are reading that a very popular politician from Madrid is telling us in a distended way that she made a few bad choices. She's downplaying her mistake by saying "2 out of 500 ...".

It is an expression typically used in Spanish to dial down something that went wrong into something funny to explain or not important at all.

In a very formal context it could be inappropriate mainly if the mistake had really bad consequences. Like it's the case of this politician's mistake (but she keeps downplaying her responsibility in the situation)

Otherwise you can use it in any context. For example... dates, personal relationships, partners or any context where we made a bad choice.


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