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Published on: Grammar Bites

Four English equivalents of the Spanish phrase ‘muerto de’

In Spanish, the phrase ‘muerto de’ allows to describe a wide range of sensations or states of being: from being cold, hungry or tired to being green with envy or scared to death.

This phrase has a colloquial -and rather dramatic use-, and as such it’s not always easy to figure out what its English equivalent might be. Let’s take a look at four special cases!

Please note that we use the expression ‘muerto de’ with el verbo ESTAR, and that ‘muerto’ can change for both gender (masculino/femenino) and number (singular/plural):

(1) MUERTO DE CANSANCIO

This expression is used to indicate that someone is extremely tired, and may be translated as ‘to be dead tired’, ‘to be exhausted’:

  • Estuve trabajando todo el día. ¡Estoy muerto de cansancio! I’ve been working all day long. I’m dead tired!
(2) MUERTO DE ENVIDIA

This expression means that the speaker is really envious of something or someone. In English we have the equivalent ‘to be green envy”: 

  • Juan está muerto de envidia desde que me compré mi auto nuevo. Juan has been green with envy since I bought my new car.
(3) MUERTO DE FRÍO

We use this phrase to describe an overpowering sensation of cold, almost like you’re ‘freezing to death’:

  • ¿Puedes subir la calefacción? Estoy muerta de frío. Could you turn the heat up? I’m freezing cold.
(4) MUERTO DE MIEDO

This expression indicates that someone is experiencing extreme fear; some common English equivalents are ‘scared stiff’, ‘scared to death’:

  • Después de ver “El exorcista” estuve muerto de miedo toda la noche. After watching “The Exorcist” I spent all night scared stiff.

Besides these four options, there are plenty of things we can express/describe with the phrase ‘muerto de’ such as: ‘muerto de calor’, ‘muerto de sed’, ‘muerto de sueño’, ‘muerto de aburrimiento’, ‘muerto de hambre’, ‘muerto de risa’, etc.

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