There's an idiom in English for a person who criticises others but when someone else criticises them, they don't like it.

Definition from Cambridge English dictionary:

Someone can dish it out but he or she can’t take it: someone easily criticizes other people but does not like it when other people criticize him or her.

Example: He’s mad at me for teasing him – he can dish it out, but he can’t take it!

We also use don't dish (out) what you can't take to tell someone that they're criticising others but when someone else criticises them, they're easily offended.

Does Spanish have the same idiom? Or what would be the closest idiom to that?

  • You will find that phrases like this tend to be very region-specific. Are you looking for the phrase as used in any specific country? Aug 26, 2020 at 17:30
  • 1
    @EuroMicelli, No. Doesn't have to be specific to a particular region. And I got good answers! :) Aug 26, 2020 at 17:31

4 Answers 4


I don't know if there's a better way to say it, but in Spanish I would use the following:

Tiene la lengua afilada y la piel muy fina.

First, we have afilado which according to the dictionary has the meaning of "hiriente, mordaz" ('hurtful'). Second, we say that a person "tiene la piel muy fina" (literally, 'has a thin skin') when that person can't stand to be criticized. You have an example in this article:

Eso sí, que nadie de la oposición ose a decirles nada a ellos porque tienen una "piel muy fina" y se irritan de una manera exagerada.

And an example of usage of the whole expression:

No se puede tener la lengua tan afilada y la piel tan fina.

Disclaimer: links are included for the sole purpose of analyzing the use of the language, without implying any type of affiliation or attachment to the media or people cited.

  • Thanks, Charlie, for explaining it in English! You made it much easier for me to understand. (Of course, the next question about the translation of Spanish to English would be off-topic.) Aug 25, 2020 at 15:21
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    @TheDarkSide it was my fault in the first place, to answer in Spanish to a question in English. The literal translation of the proposed expression would be "to have a sharp tongue and a thin skin".
    – Charlie
    Aug 25, 2020 at 15:29
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    It's interesting, but unimportant, that we have both those phrases (sharp tongue) and (thin skin) separately in English but we do not use them as a compound as far as I know.
    – mdewey
    Aug 26, 2020 at 14:27

One idiom we use in Spain is : Puño de hierro, mandíbula de cristal. The direct translation in English would be: Iron fists, jaws made of glass.

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    Excelente, no la conocía
    – fedorqui
    Aug 26, 2020 at 7:41

There's a saying of biblical origin in Spanish which says:

"Ver la paja en el ojo ajeno y no la viga en el propio" (Luke 6:41 Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?)

  • 7
    That's not exactly the same, is it? I mean, maybe I'm mistaken but I thought this saying was used to say that someones see what others are doing wrong but does not see what they are doing wrong, but does not imply that they can't accept critics.
    – Charlie
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:19
  • I think that it also implies a bit of the later. Someone that easily accepted the critics would be told about it, and start seeing its own beam / fixing it.
    – Ángel
    Aug 25, 2020 at 21:28

You can say:

Se lleva, pero no se aguanta

That's something we say in Mexico, and its by far the most direct translation.

  • What does "llevarse" mean in that sentence? I am having a hard time rationalizing that expression...
    – wimi
    Aug 31, 2020 at 7:31
  • It's equivalent to the dish it part Aug 31, 2020 at 14:10

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