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El pez que se muerde la cola, el perro que se persigue la cola y otros círculos viciosos

That's another story

Ser otro cantar

It's not to be taken lightly

No ser moco de pavo

By the skin of your teeth

El canto de un duro

To be the black sheep

Ser la oveja negra

Like father, like son

De tal palo, tal astilla

Willy nilly

A troche y moche

Birds of a feather flock together

Dios los cría y ellos se juntan

Between one thing and another

Entre pitos y flautas

It's the same everywhere

¡Aquí se cuecen habas!

To turn as red as a beet

¡Ponerse rojo/a como un tomate!

To stick out like a sore thumb

Cantar como una almeja

To make someone jealous

Poner los dientes largos

Never mind the quality, feel the width!

Burro grande, ande o no ande

To have something on the tip of your tongue

Tener algo en la punta de la lengua

To beat around the bush

Marear la perdiz

The bark is worse than the bite

Perro ladrador, poco mordedor

To beat around the bush

Ir/Andar(se) por las ramas

To arouse suspicion

Dar mala espina

Rumor has it

Malas lenguas

El pez que se muerde la cola, el perro que se persigue la cola y otros círculos viciosos

The expression El pez que se muerde la cola is very common in Spain. It literally means the fish that bites its own tail, and is used to describe very complex situations from which there are no way out. The metaphor of a fish biting its own tail represents lack of movement and consequently, the inability to progress. The fish is trapped, blocked, stuck; it has no way to go. In general, the individual caught in these types of situations has options, but none of them provides him or her with the desired outcome. The circumstances that surround the individual in these dead-end situations are beyond his or her control, that is to say, he or she has no power whatsoever to break out of them. It is always a no-win situation because there is no possible way around it. The English expression Catch-22 is a perfect match for the metaphor described by el pez que se muerde la cola. These expressions are about terms and/or conditions that exclude or contradict one another.

A situation of el pez que se muerde la cola:

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