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Speaking with a friend in Navarre, Spain, I used the phrase "me matas" and received an unexpected response. The intended meaning was a light or joking frustration, which was supported by a bit of research beforehand. His interpretation seemed to be sexual, or maybe that it carried a stronger meaning than I intended.

What is/are the colloquial meaning(s) of "me matas"?

Edit: We were bantering, nothing of consequence but definitely flirtatious. His response was uncharacteristically strong, exclamation points and ‘y tu a mi’. That last bit is what threw me.

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    Could you give a bit more context on the conversation? Me also in Spain would've understood it the way you mention, as a joking frustration. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Nov 19 '18 at 22:14
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    Yes, please, do try and give some more context. Something like this would also be understood as you intended (frustration) here in Argentina. – pablodf76 Nov 20 '18 at 1:16
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    I haven't heard that used in a sexual context ever. Its use in Spanish is generally equivalent to that of English's you're killing me – user0721090601 Nov 20 '18 at 1:34
  • I agree with my fellow Spanish native speakers, "me matas" is the exact equivalent of "you're killing me". According to myenglishpages.com: "The phrase you're killing me is an exaggerated way of saying that something or someone is very funny. – RubioRic Nov 20 '18 at 7:56
  • given specific context i can see how this would be interpreted sexually, however, this can basically be interpreted in any way you want based on context. It could even be understood as romantic frustration. So i really support @fedorqui on asking for more context. – Brian H. Nov 20 '18 at 12:22
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Me matas is a hyperbolic expression; it means "you're making a big impression on me" or "you're causing an important effect on me" or "you're affecting me in a big way". Therefore it can potentially have a sexual or romantic meaning.

It may of course mean "You make me crazy" (either "with lust" or "with love" or both) but also "You make me feel frustrated" (maybe, if you were teasing) or something else that may sound negative but only shows uncertainty regarding your possible reply. And so on.

There's a tradition in song, especially, as you surely know, of men showing love for women by saying how much they make them suffer. This goes far beyond modern romantic songs, and it's found also in literature and poetry; there are instances of it even in the Quijote (1605-1615) and many other works of the time; in a letter the hero, don Quijote, calls his half-imagined lover Dulcinea del Toboso ¡oh bella ingrata, amada enemiga mía!, that is, "O beautiful ingrate, beloved enemy mine!" (this is without Dulcinea actually having done anything at all to don Quijote).

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As already many comments have pointed out the expression "Me matas" in most contexts has the same meaning of the English equivalent "You're killing me".

However, and again depending on context, it could have a romantic connotation. It is common to say "Me muero por esa mujer" (I'd die for her) or in another form "Esa mujer me mata" meaning that I'm insanely in love (or infatuated) with that woman.

If the romantic mood is already set and you tell someone "Me matas" it could be easily interpreted as "I like you a lot", obviously depending on the tone, which would trigger an answer like "y tu a mi".

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You've already accepted an answer but I don't completely agree with the others.

As I've already commented, me matas is mainly the equivalent of the English idiom you're killing me

According to MyEnglishPages

The phrase you're killing me is an exaggerated way of saying that something or someone is very funny.

This idiomatic expression means that the person you are talking to is so funny that one could die from laughing.

It's also possible to use expressions like "it's killing me" or "you're killing me" to mean that you are anxious about something or when something is driving you crazy

Two different meanings are described above:

(1) A person is very funny
(2) A person is very annoying

Both of them are present in the Spanish equivalent. Notice that there is no sexual reference in the description of the idiom.

I think that my fellow Spanish speakers are talking about this other Spanish idiom that is registered in the D.R.A.E, our most relevant language authority

estar muerto, ta por alguien o algo [Be dying for someone or something]

  1. loc. verb. coloq. Amarlo o desearlo con vehemencia.
    English translation: To love or desire someone with vehemence

I think that the expression in English "be dying for someone" exists and it got the same meaning described above.

According to the Longman Dictionary

be dying for something/to do something

spoken to want something very much

Summarizing: Both in Spanish and English, "me matas/you're killing me" and "me muero por ti/I'm dying for you" are different expressions with slightly different meanings. If you employ "you're killing me" to express that you desire someone maybe you can employ "me matas" in Spanish as well but that's not slang nor the main meaning.

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