Is there a similar expression to express that one is being honest and forthright, and not hiding information?

5 Answers 5


Yes, the phrase you're looking for is

'Poner las cartas sobre la mesa', a quite literal translation.

  • 1
    Depending on localization, "cartas" might be interchanged with "naipes" Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 19:27
  • 3
    In Spanish from Spain, this expression is correct and well known.
    – King Midas
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 8:28
  • 1
    The question is which one is the translation ;-). Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 16:49
  • 1
    @spanish-guest-9834798345 donde se usa naipes?
    – terdon
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 8:40

Otra opción, con el mismo significado, es mostrar las cartas. Se trata de una frase hecha, que deriva directamente de mostrar:

Mostrar. 1. tr. Manifestar o poner a la vista algo, o enseñarlo o señalarlo para que se vea.


DLE says:

poner [...] las cartas boca arriba

1. loc.verb. Poner de manifiesto un propósito u opinión que se guardaba oculto.

DLE also mentions enseñar las cartas as a synonym. So both poner las cartas boca arriba and enseñar las cartas have that meaning of "showing your intentions or opinions, which were previously hidden".

I have always said poner las cartas sobre la mesa, though. I do not think it is uncommon to say it that way.

  • 2
    Living in Colombia and Spain, in both countries I have always heard "poner las cartas sobre la mesa" and "enseñar las cartas". Both sound natural to me, more than "poner las cartas boca arriba"
    – mrbolichi
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 9:21

I add these two expressions that mean something similar (at least in Chile):

Hablar a calzón quitado.

Hablar sin pelos en la lengua.

These expressions mean to say things with total frankness, without hiding anything. They differ from "poner las cartas sobre la mesa" in that they also express shamelessness, speaking without censorship or social or moral concealment.


At least related is the equivalent to the English to come clean: One decides to stop hiding something (and, if you want, lay all cards on the table). The Spanish translation is simply confesar [algo], to confess something.

(In German one could also say "die Hosen runterlassen", literally "let down your pants", to reveal what was previously concealed, in an embarrassing fashion, often under pressure. But I think this idiom has no direct equivalent in Spanish.)

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