There is an expression in Spanish to denote something that is absurd or unexpected. Usually it can be the maximum expression of expertise and talent.

I wondered about this mainly because in Spanish (In Colombia) at least we have some common jokes but I wondered how would you say that in English.

Joke 1:

¿Cuál es el colmo de un boxeador? .. .. Sacarse un moco con el guante.

Joke 2:

¿Cuál es el colmo de un futbolista? .. .. .. Meter un gol y fallarlo en el replay.

Google translate for Joke 2:

What is the height of a player? .. .. .. And failing to score a goal in the replay.

Which really has no sense whatsoever. Can someone explain a way to say this properly?

This is the definition of colmo in rae.

  • 9
    Is this on-topic? It sounds more like an EL&U type of question, than a SL&U question. Unless your real question is "What does colmo mean?"
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 7:12
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    The question is about translating a spanish expression to english. How can this be off-topic?? Being a Spanish expression I don't really see it in EL&U. Unless there is another reason? Meta Topic
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 7:16
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    To me, translating X to Y makes sense on Y's site. Which means "«any language» to Spanish" fits here. And "«any language» to English" fits on EL&U. Also, there are already many questions on EL&U that fit that pattern.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 7:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is asking for translation into English and this SE is the other way around. This should be asked in a SE about English language.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:18
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    @Joze I agree... it is not about my opinion or yours, that is why we vote each question. Some get closed, some don't.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 21:08

9 Answers 9


I'm not a native speaker, but I think you could use the idiom:

To be the last/final straw

So it could be:

What is the last straw for a boxer?

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    Using "last straw" could work, but "last straw" usually implies that the person has experienced a multitude of problems already, and the last straw is the the hardship/annoyance that really pushes the person over the edge. From the translation of the jokes, I don't really see this implied.
    – Aprendedor
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 22:34

For those two particular jokes I would use the form, "What's the highlight of a boxer's career?"

I can't think of an equivalent that one would apply to a person himself rather than his career, though.

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    In this case I would go with pinnacle, summit, apex, or zenith rather than highlight. Now that I answer it I think it might be good for E L & U ... Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 6:17
  • Those work too, but I think "highlight" is still fine (though it is indeed less literal). Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 16:50
  • I think there's a slight difference in meaning too between highlight vs the others though I can't find the words to express it and I don't know which would be closer to this use of colmo which I'm not familiar with. Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 18:17
  • no no, colmo is the opposite of highlight ... a Low-light if you will. like the worst thing that can happen (without being a real tragedy)... to a boxer? needing to wipe his nose with boxing gloves
    – Rostol
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 22:04

Precisamente por esto es que mis hijos me dicen que no cuente chistes traducidos.

Cómo se traduciría

El colmo de los colmos:

Que el mudo le diga al sordo que el ciego lo está mirando

No me suena

The final straw of all the final straws:

Creo que prefiero

Irony of ironies:


Although this word has translation in Spanish, I think this word:


can be used for what you are trying to express.

For example:

What is the irony of a boxer?

I think "colmo" is one of the many word that does not have a direct translation in English, and this is why you need to find a word close to the meaning.


I looked the definition of irony on Google, and here is what I found:

The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

After reading the last part of the definition, I thin that this word fits what you are looking for.


what's the worst about being a boxer?

poking your nose with the gloves...

I am a native Spanish speaker, and this was a way that I could find in English to still have some sense and some humour on it.

I've never heard the "last straw" in a sentence, so I would give my opinion in that, since "colmo", you are referring as something bad about it.

At least we use "colmo" like that in México.

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    "What is" implies something that actually happens, so I don't think it's a good translation. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:49
  • well, certanly its not good trying to poke your nose with gloves, that's the joke
    – Poncho
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:51
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    No. What I mean is that "colmo" jokes expect and imply that the answer will not make sense. "What's the worst about being a boxer?" doesn't imply nonsense. The other person could well answer "The brain damage". Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 17:23
  • Oh, I got it, certainly It does not imply nonsense, It could be used then as "You know what could be weird about being a boxer?--poking your nose with the gloves ", Not sure, but kinda does the job about being a weird question, I think...
    – Poncho
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 19:58

My Nicaraguan friend just told me colmo can be translated as a funny coincidence, like it would be a colmo if an architect's name was Armando Paredes. In that case, I agree that "irony" would be the best translation.


I would translate it into 'Pet Peeve'. It makes more sense to me that way.

  • but a Pet Peeve is something that is more annoying to you than to the regular person. "El colmo" is really annoying to everyone.
    – Diego
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 19:08
  • "El colmo" doesn't even relate to annoying in my opinion. "last straw" is more to the point.
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 13:24

I know this is old, but it doesn't hurt to help: I am a native Spanish speaker and I've been fiddling with the language a little bit to find that the best translations would be "absurd" or, taking the word "combler" from the French language (that means filling, height or "colmo").

Personally, as everyday people use French words in the English language it'd be ok to use it, right?

So, in the end, it'd look like such:

What's the comble of a gardener? To have a daughter named Daisy and the other one Petunia.

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    But you can't just arbitrarily borrow words from other languages unless they're specialized terms...
    – Aprendedor
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 22:24

I saw a translation to "el colmo of..." long time ago. But you must have deep knowledge of the language. The "combler" is the closest you got and it is a good one. In fact, it is the one, but as the next entry says, "you cannot just borrow words and fit them into another language." The rest of the answers are not even close.

  • Do you have any sources for your claims?
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 7:41

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