dar calabazas

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scriptum

Senior Member
Israel / Hebrew, Russian
Hello everybody,

Could anybody explain me the expression "darle calabazas a alguien"? I understand its general meaning, but what is the logic behind it? Why pumpkins and not, say, watermelons?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • marcoszorrilla

    Senior Member
    Español - España
    Creo que aquí hay algo interesante al respecto:
    Diego Saiz (New Jersey, Estados Unidos) se maravilla de la universalidad de la expresión “dar calabazas” para suspender en un examen o rechazar una proposición amorosa. Don Diego aporta el testimonio de un amigo ucraniano que también emplea esa frase para señalar que los padres no dan el permiso para que se ennovie su hija. Es más, entregan una calabaza al pretendiente rechazado para que no siga adelante.
    No es extraño que el signo de la calabaza haya penetrado en varios idiomas. En latín la cucúrbita o calabaza se ve como un símbolo de lo falso, flojo, con poca sustancia. En efecto, se trata de un fruto muy aparente pero poco denso y poco sabroso. Es más, en la vida tradicional se vaciaba fácilmente y se utilizaba como recipiente. En el castellano de la época del Quijote, la expresión “echar a uno calabaza es no responderle a lo que pide, como el galán que saca a la dama en el festín a bailar, y ella se excusa, dando a entender que [el mozo] es liviano y de poco seso, por querer que salga a danzar con él, no siendo o su igual o de su gusto, o que le dejó en vacío hecho calabaza” (Tesoro de Covarrubias).
    Un Saludo.
     

    cutsandnicks

    Member
    Germany, German and Spanish
    That is correct. "Dar calabazas a alguien" means that you refuse somebody's invitation, approaching, etc.

    How is the English expression to define that behaviour?
     

    Pannadol

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    No hay un frase que tenga un vegetale en inglés :p Pero supongo que el frase "To decline someone's/another's advances" would be appropriate?Por ejemplo:1. He asked her to go out with him, but she declined his advances. OR2. He asked her to go out with him, but she declined his request. In the first example, she is saying no to him totally - she is trying to escape him.. in the second example, the emphasis is more on her answer to his specific question. Like they're good friends and she's said "sorry I don't want to go out with you, but...", this example allows for her to kiss him, for example, without accepting his request to go out. In the first example, she wouldn't kiss or cuddle, or anything like that.That being said, "to decline another's advances/request" is quite formal - you probably would not use it in conversation. The informal version would probably be just: "She rejected him".
     

    Pannadol

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Yeh I'd be very careful about using that one... in Australia we'd be a bit surprised at the use of that phrase - it's very rarely used but we do get it, nevertheless the sexual sound is difficult to get past, especially if you're saying it in a spanish accent - rrrrr!
     

    Pannadol

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    With 'to give somebody the axe' - the idea is that you're cutting them off completely, for example the phrase is often used to say you're firing somebody from a job. It's not really in reference to a request or proposal though...
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    Creo que aquí hay algo interesante al respecto:


    Un Saludo.
    That’s incredible, but now I remember the Ukrainian expression (“daty harbuza”). I heard it several times, when I lived in Ukraine as a child, and forgot it completely. I have searched for the phrase in Google and found the following information: originally, a hollow pumpkin was something of a consolation prize for unsuccessful matchmakers. By giving it to them, the bride meant to say: “my chest is empty, I have no dowry, so you don’t have to feel disappointed”.
    Thanks to everybody who replied. And particular thanks to marcoszorrilla.
     

    Jor

    New Member
    Spanish, Argentina
    "Dar calabazas" is an idiom, an it means to give someone the brush off, to make someone fail in an exam or to reject someone´s romantic proposal. In Argentina, although we are familiar with the phrase, it is not usual in everyday language, I guess it is more common in Spain. Some people say that "dar calabazas" to someone means not to give him what he expected because pumpkins are considered a symbol of falsehood, since they have a very thick shell and little content in comparison.
    Hope it helps.
     

    AuPhinger

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    That is correct. "Dar calabazas a alguien" means that you refuse somebody's invitation, approaching, etc.

    How is the English expression to define that behaviour?
    In the social relationship sense, to "brush someone off", or to "give someone a/the cold shoulder" would fit the theme of this discussion (in US English).

    However, the overall definition of "dar calabezas" seems to be more of "consolation prize". The history, going back to the Ukraine, was fun and interesting---Thanks to all!
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    The history, going back to the Ukraine, was fun and interesting
    The word's history is probably much longer. "Calabaza" traces back to the Arabic "qerabat" (water-skins), "harbuz" to the Turkish "karpuz". All of them seem to descend from an Old Persian word meaning "melon"...
     

    Santaynez

    New Member
    USA, English
    En una entrevista reciente a Charlize Theron en la que el reportero le pedía matrimonio ella acabó diciendo algo como:
    " I have something for you. I'm an axe"
    ¿Podría ser? No estoy segura de haberlo entendido bien pero lo han traducido como "Tengo algo para ti. Calabazas"


    Sounds to me that she said "Ananas," meaning "f*** off."
     

    Cattya

    Member
    Spanish
    Hello everybody,

    Could anybody explain me the expression "darle calabazas a alguien"? I understand its general meaning, but what is the logic behind it? Why pumpkins and not, say, watermelons?

    Thanks in advance!
    "Para explicar la relación del rechazo amoroso con las calabazas, algunos aluden al carácter antiafrodisíaco que ya se les atribuía en la Grecia Antigua o durante la Edad Media. La calabaza simboliza lo falso o de poco valor, porque resulta engañosa: promete mucho por su tamaño, pero defrauda por ser poco densa e insípida."
    Fuente: Blogolengua.
     

    acme_54

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Knock back: BRITISH to refuse to accept someone or something
    He’s been knocked back by every girl in the school.
    It is similar in meaning to "ghosting" in internet slang -the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication-.
     

    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    I think it is to reject somebody.
    Correct. :thumbsup:

    It is 'to snub', or 'to shun'.


    It is a colloquial expression, used in a figurative sense. It is often used when talking about love matters, and a potential partner rejecting her / his suitor's advances.

    It is also used more widely, in colloquial speech, or even in professional fields like politics, economy, etc. For example;

    'Fuimos al súper a buscar champagne, ¡Pero 'calabazas'...!' (= there wasn't any left)
    (Here, it's used as an interjection)

    'El gobierno les dio calabazas a los partidos de la oposición, en su propuesta de cambiar la ley.'

    'La empresa le ha dado calabazas a este avance de sus competidores, y la OPA hostil quedó rechazada.'


    It adds a connotation of 'emphasis' to the rejection, meaning that it has a somewhat ironic or 'sneering' sense, which goes beyond just being a mere 'rejection'.

    It has an added sense of 'humilliation' of the person rejected - or of 'mocking' on the part of the speaker.

    In English, it is just 'to say no' - perhaps with an emphatic 'no'. That is, 'to snub', or 'to shun' (as well as most of the others mentioned across the thread):

    - To snub
    - To shun
    - To say no
    (To say NO!)
    - To cold-shoulder
    - To reject
    - To turn down
    - To rebuff
    - To spurn


    As was said earlier in this thread, there appear to be two meanings of dar calabazas:

    To spurn his/her (often amorous) advances.

    To flunk a student.
    Yes.

    It is also used by students, in an educational setting. Although there it is mostly in the singular ('sacar / dar una calabaza').

    'Calabaza' here is a metaphor for a big fail, like 'a zero'.


    Of course, the subject / object relation in this idiom changes (as does its sense, either active or passive), depending on whether the verb used in the expression is 'sacar' or 'dar'.

    It can be either 'sacar / llevarse una calabaza', in a passive sense (meaning 'to (emphatically) fail' / 'to be failed'), or, in an active sense, 'darle una calabaza a alguien' ('to fail s.o.').
     
    Last edited:

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It is also used more widely, in politics, economy, etc. For example;

    'El gobierno les dio calabazas a los partidos de la oposición, en su propuesta de cambiar la ley.'

    'La empresa le dio calabazas a este avance de sus competidores, y la OPA hostil quedó rechazada.'


    It has a somewhat ironic or 'sneering' sense, meaning that it adds a connotation of 'emphasis' to the rejection, which goes beyond just being a mere 'rejection'.

    It has an added sense of 'humilliation' of the person rejected, or of 'mocking' on the part of the speaker.

    In English, it is just 'to say no' - perhaps with an emphatic 'no'. That is, 'to snub', or 'to shun':

    - To snub
    - To shun
    - To say no
    (To say NO!)
    - To reject
    - To turn down
    - To rebuff
    I couldn't say, "The government snubbed the opposition's proposed change to the law." "Snub" implies disrespect, but there's no disrespect involved in rejecting a proposal.

    I couldn't say, "The government shunned the opposition's proposed change to the law" either. "To shun" means "to keep away from"; this is not the same as "to say no".

    I would say, "The government gave short shrift to the opposition's proposed change to the law."

    As to your "empresa" example, I might say, "The company was dismissive of this move by its competitors, …"
     
    Last edited:

    Ferrol

    Senior Member
    Spanish.España
    Pero
    I couldn't say, "The government snubbed the opposition's proposed change to the law." "Snub" implies disrespect, but there's no disrespect involved in rejecting a proposal.

    I couldn't say, "The government shunned the opposition's proposed change to the law" either. "To shun" means "to keep away from"; this is not the same as "to say no".

    I would say, "The government gave short shrift to the opposition's proposed change to the law."

    As to your "empresa" example, I might say, "The company was dismissive of this move by its competitors, …"
    Pero ¿Valdría "snub" para expresar "dar calabaza" en el sentido de rechazar los avances amorosos de alguien?. Yo hubiera dicho que si
    Juan lleva tiempo tirandole los tejos a Ana, pero ella le da calabazas
    Juan has long been making a play for Ana, but she snubs him
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Pero

    Pero ¿Valdría "snub" para expresar "dar calabaza" en el sentido de rechazar los avances amorosos de alguien?. Yo hubiera dicho que si
    Juan lleva tiempo tirandole los tejos a Ana, pero ella le da calabazas
    Juan has long been making a play for Ana, but she snubs him
    Diría que no, ya que en eso no hay falta de respeto.
     

    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    A ti también, Ferrol.
    Thanks for your comments, Sound shift.

    All of the English equivalences depend on context, of course. They don't all work for every example, as you showed.

    However, I would point out that the Spanish expression doesn't involve 'disrespect', but rather a sense of 'disappointment', 'frustration', etc on the part of the snubbed person / side.

    Or, rather, just a sense of wallowing in the situation on the part of the speaker.

    It is not really 'disrespect' that is involved here, but 'frustration', that is implied.

    Also, the 'dar calabazas' implies the perspective / interest of the speaker in the situation described, beyond just the situation as an objective fact, which is what 'reject' would express.
     
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    jilar

    Senior Member
    Español
    However, I would point out that the Spanish expression doesn't involve 'disrespect', but rather a sense of 'disappointment', 'frustration', etc on the p
    Pero no creo que sea por la expresión en sí.
    Si una mujer, o un hombre -consideremos ambas posibilidades ;)- rechaza las insinuaciones o las intenciones por parte de otro de tener una relación sentimental, el afectado, o afectada, se sentirá frustrado, molesto, ...

    Es la acción de rechazar, y sentirse así, la que genera esos sentimientos. Independientente de cómo la expresemos o las palabras que usemos para explicarla -excepto, claro está, si hay una verdadera intención de humillar u ofender al otro (no sé, imagina que le pides salir a una chica y te contesta: -¡pídele una cita a tu puta madre! ¡Asqueroso!
    Este ejemplo no se explicaría sin más diciendo que la chica te dio calabazas)
     
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