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I want to know the Spanish equivalent of ''keeping up with the Joneses''. This means to have a similar standard of living or success, if not better, than those around you.

I see in the Collins dictionary and Word Reference it is ''no ser menos que el vecino''.

So, is it like''necesito no ser menos que el vecino''?

Are there alternative ways to express a similar idea ? It sounds like an almost direct parallel with English.

Similarly, a ''must-have'' item of clothing I see in Collins Dictionary is ''artículo indispensable'' or maybe ''obligatorio''. I understand these words and they make sense. Just wondering is there any modern way of expressing this like ''must-have'' in English.

I mean the original forms are great but it is interesting with things like fashion how languages modernise and adapt. However, I hastily add ,I hate when they are replaced directly with English words all the time instead of adapting Spanish words. Perhaps,though that is just my perspective as an English-speaker.

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  • Why not just use what the dictionary says? The Collins is not full of mistakes. You have two unrelated questions here. Modern? Spanish is not like English. You just have to accept that.
    – Lambie
    Mar 9 at 22:33
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    @Lambie. I know English is not entirely like Spanish! Although,there can be similarities with vocabulary,phrases,even direct translatiòns.I never said there was anything wrong with the dictionary. I thought that this was one of the point of this site,to explore alternative options and variations .Also,the 2 questions are related, they are to do with attainment and/or aspiration,social climbing and desire for material things. I have seen other questions by different users less related with no comment made by others. On this occasion, I don't accept what you say.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 10 at 20:26
  • The questions are two different idioms. Most sites on SE don't allow two different questions like that. Keeping up with the Joneses AND must-have something.
    – Lambie
    Mar 11 at 1:01
  • @Lambie mmm..I refer to a question last week entitled'' Refrán: the shoemaker's children always go barefoot''.In this the question continued on to include other idioms completely unrelated such as ''to be like a bull in a china shop'' and ''the apple doesn't fall far from the tree''. These are not related at all, as a native English speaker I should know. My phrases on the other hand are definitely more closely linked
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 11 at 14:50
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    @Gorpik uhh! You are right. I don't like it. Maybe I'm too serious but what can I say? I must be too much of a language purist but I can't stand English being the constant standard go-to in modern times.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 12 at 21:00

2 Answers 2

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Struggling to find any widely accepted idiom like Keeping up with the Joneses in Spanish that would come natural to those situations where people try to imitate their neighbors, in order to catch-up with their (perceived higher) status.

Though, since I'm from Argentina, I might add that over here there is a funny, culturally interesting phrase, nearly similar from a comedy movie ("Esperando la carroza") in which the woman character criticizes her neighbor, —a female rival of hers— for the constant copying of every act:

(...) la charlatana de al lado me imita en todo yo hago puchero, ella hace puchero; yo hago ravioles, ella hace ravioles

(...) the chatterbox woman next door imitates me in everything I make stew, she makes stew; I make ravioli, she makes ravioli

(As said, in Argentina a fair amount of people will know what you are implying with the above)

PS: It was interesting to find out that the known English idiom (also) comes from an artistic creation, a comic strip depicting a female wanting to 'keep up' with her neighbor's lifestyle

PS 2: I later realized that there's actually a better fitted phrase which most people will understand or use:

(Hacer algo, por) No querer ser menos que el vecino 4

(To do something while) Not wanting to be less than the neighbor (That's it, to keep up and appear as [important/industrious/conspicuous/etc] as they do)

It dawned on me that this one seems widespread and would be well understood both by my son or by, say, someone from Spain.

Colloquially you would hear it like:

*¿Has visto cómo los Gutierrez pintaron su casa, mamá?

—Si, "no habrán querido ser menos que sus vecinos", los Lopez, que remodelaron la suya hace poco"*

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    "I pout" is not the correct meaning here. What the character says in the movie is "I make stew, she makes stew"
    – Gustavson
    Mar 15 at 13:08
  • @ipp .very interesting reference in Argentina.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 16 at 19:23
  • What about "estar a la altura"? We use it in Spanish.
    – Marthu
    Mar 19 at 2:50
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I agree with Lambie that the options provided by the dictionary are perfectly valid.

Alternatively, I suggest something a bit more colloquial (though wordier) for "must-have", which is a relative clause like:

  • Un artículo que no te puedes perder (that you cannot fail to have / that you cannot miss)
  • Un artículo que debes tener sí o sí (that you must have on all accounts)

For "keeping up with the Joneses", there is also the related "mirar (siempre) el jardín del vecino", which suggests envying though not necessarily imitating.

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    I'd agree with your interpretation of "Keeping up with the Joneses". To me, instead of being as successful as your neighbors, it has connotations of doing whatever is necessary to show the appearance that you are just as or more successful - which has nothing to do with actually being so. Also, I once had a next door neighbor whose names actually was Jones :D
    – Peter M
    Mar 10 at 15:57
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    Nice to get some alternatives which is what I was looking for,Gustavson.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 10 at 20:28

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