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I took an online quiz about Spanish proverbs which promised to tell me whether or not I'm "truly Mexican". As it happens, I'm not Mexican, so I did rather poorly.

At the end of the quiz, I was told: "La cagaste. Ni modo, a lo hecho, pecho."

I understand that "la cagaste" means something along the lines of "you fucked it up" (literally, "you shat it"). I have no idea what "ni modo, a lo hecho, pecho" means. Google Translate translates it as "No way, done that, chest", which is not very helpful.

What does "Ni modo, a lo hecho, pecho" mean?

Answers in Spanish are okay.

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  • Note this consists in two things: Ni modo and a lo hecho, pecho. The first one was already mentioned in Translation of “ni modo” and the meaning is, more or less, oh well / no big deal, etc. Jan 23 '17 at 7:33
  • I thought it meant, “What’s done is done”. That’s how I understood it when I lived in Mexico. Apr 30 '18 at 2:27
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As fedorqui commented, there are in fact two separate expressions:

Ni modo

Answered in another question, so I'll just leave here the RAE definition:

ni modo

  1. expr. coloq. Méx. y R. Dom. U. para indicar que algo ya no tiene remedio.

A lo hecho, pecho

This expression does not show up in the DRAE as is, but you can look up the definition for pecho and you will find things like this:

pecho

Del lat. pectus.

  1. m. Valor, esfuerzo, fortaleza y constancia.

And:

sacar alguien pecho

  1. loc. verb. coloq. Adoptar una actitud de orgullo, de arrogancia o de desafío.
  2. loc. verb. coloq. Actuar con decisión y valor ante una situación difícil.

tener pecho

  1. loc. verb. Tener paciencia y ánimo.

So the expression could mean something like "face the consequences of what you have just done with courage and patience".

The reason for the expression could be that "courage" (and other similar emotions) is an emotion that is traditionally considered to have its origin in the heart, which is inside the chest (pecho). This is the fist use I have found in Spanish literature:

Mas ya que humano remedio
No puede impedir lo hecho,
Poner a lo hecho el pecho

Juan de la Cueva, "Tragedia de los siete infantes de Lara", 1579 (Spain)

The expression "poner el pecho" means:

poner alguien el pecho a algo

  1. loc. verb. Arrostrarlo.

And:

arrostrar

De rostro.

  1. tr. Hacer cara, resistir, sin dar muestras de cobardía, a las calamidades o peligros.
  2. tr. Sufrir o tolerar a alguien o algo desagradable. U. t. c. intr.
  3. prnl. Atreverse, arrojarse a batallar rostro a rostro con el contrario.
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    I have always thought of A lo hecho, pecho in a funny way: if you had that baby, now go ahead and breastfeed him/her! Jan 23 '17 at 9:31
  • The sense that I picked up intuitively when I heard this phrase appeared to be similar to "move on with life." Not as funny as fedorqui's! May 1 '18 at 3:01

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