5 Vote


  • Posted Jan 15, 2010
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  • In English, a cross between "snake in the grass" and "still waters run deep." It refers to someone whose cunning is disguised by a passive demeanor. In Spain, it can be a backhanded compliment meaning a person is more astute than s/he appears. - CarlotaG Apr 11, 2013 flag
  • Like "a wolf in sheep's clothing" or "you're not as stupid as you look"? Two completely different meanings, but same wording in different countries. Interesting. - Findy Nov 19, 2013 flag

12 Answers

8 Vote

a ´mosquita muerta´ is someone who appears as innocent and quiet but is always in pursuit of controlling other´s life, especially related to couple relationships. It´s similar to a hypocrite, but it´s nothing to do because s/he is not telling others what to do while doing otherwise, and does not show off unexisting virtues. ¨hacerse la mosquita muerta¨ (which is the exact expression) means to play the coy and innocent but never missing an opportunity to take advantage. It´s a wolf in lamb´s suit. To be considered a ´ mosquita muerta´ you have taken advantage of a situation to your own benefit.

So, hacerse la mosquita muerta is NOT a harmless inoffensive behaviour.

On the contratry, a mosquita muerta seems inoffensive on the surface but on a certain point s/he turns into an expert manipulator. And s/he has something of a chamaleonic behaviour.

I don´t know what´s the translation. Maybe there isn´t one, but I don´t think goody-goodies conveys the same meaning. However, I have always thought that Maude Flanders looks like a mosquita muerta.

Someone proposed this translation: Parecer una mosquita muerta = ¨to look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth¨. However, a mosquita muerta always shows her real self in the end.

Simon & Schusters describe a mosquita muerta as ¨someone feigning meekness but never failing to take advantage of an opportunity ¨ But they don´t propose a translation!!

  • What is a goody goody two shoes? - LuisaGomezBa Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • Someone who is virtuous in a coy, smug or sentimental manner. - mediterrunio Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • What expression would you use in English... - LuisaGomezBa Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • maybe there isn´t an equal expression In English and you ahve to paraphrase it on a translation. But maybe someone will hit the nail on the head soon. - mediterrunio Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • Great example of a phrase/concept that is unique to a culture. Thanks. - DR1960 Jan 15, 2010 flag
5 Vote

But, don't be afraid. "Una mosquita muerta" can be someone inoffensive.

We usually say "es una mosquita muerta" for someone who does not call the attention of anybody with her behaviour and someone who is inoffensive.

Don't exaggerate!. Only if you say the typical comment "y parecía una mosquita muerta" after the inoffensive creature has given you some surprises with her behaviour. You have guessed something new.

You usually say that when you guess the opposite: that she was not what she seemed to be.

"Una mosquita muerta" can be used in other contexts. For example: I do not trust in that type of inoffensive creature. Actually, you want to say: they never are what they seem.

Then you say: no me fío de la gente que parecen mosquitas muertas. They always give you unexpected surprises.

  • you´re right! And very clear. They can be inoffensive but... you never know. - mediterrunio Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • It depends on the context. For example: you can say "but if she is inoffensive" (pero si es una mosquita muerta). Or, on the contrary, you can say: but how can you trust her?. She seems Inoffensive (una mosquita muerta) but actually she isn't. - nila45 Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • The most common usage is not ´ser una mosquita´... sino ¨hacerse la mosquita muerta¨. That is to seem inoffensive. but... you never know. - mediterrunio Jan 16, 2010 flag
1 Vote

Something like a "goody goody two shoes"???

Persona de ánimo o genio apagado, pero que no pierde la oportunidad de actuar en su provecho. Persona que se hace la tonta y finge no entender las cosas

1 Vote

one dead mosquito. (bloodsucker that got what what's coming to him.)

1 Vote

Based on Mediterrunio's comments, I'd suggest "a snake in the grass".

  • wow! interesting suggestion. But sometimes a msoquita muerta is not thaat bad :) It´s just nobody sees it coming. - mediterrunio Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • Just as you wouldn't see a snake in the grass. - Eddy Jan 28, 2012 flag
1 Vote

ser or parecer una mosquita muerta

to look as if butter wouldn’t melt in one’s mouth

  • Where is this term used? - LuisaGomezBa Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • This would usually be "He/she"" looks as if ... - samdie Jan 15, 2010 flag
  • I mean where geographically. I asked a bunch of my american friends and only my husband's mom said she knew it and that it was a smooth talker. - LuisaGomezBa Jan 15, 2010 flag
1 Vote

If someone acts in that seamingly inoffensive manner but is in fact trying to

bring you down we say ,"you have been white Anted". Because White Ants

work unseen and silently to undermine the foundations of your house.

They are a terrible scourge here.

1 Vote

Oooh!!! I worked with a teacher like this last year. Now I know what to call her in Spanish. Sorry I still but I don't know what to call her in English, except two faced, which is kind of the same but not exactly. A two faced person is all sweet and lovely to your face, but goes around talking bad about you behind your back. Oh, another term might be a back stabber, but a back stabber is not necessarily innocent seeming, although they could be.

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1 Vote

another possible interpretation of "mosquita muerta" is somebody that although somewhat slutty, comes across as virtuous

1 Vote

From what I have observed, mostly in telenovelas and radio dramas, a person called una mosca muerta seems most often to be a woman who tries to appear to be honest and of virtue but in reality acts in her own interest. She either is a villainess who wants to take advantage of the heroine or turns out to be falsely accused and/or misunderstood.

In some pop songs she might be the best friend who is really a boyfriend stealer.

0 Vote

also, a mousy girl

0 Vote

I also found this which seems it could sometimes be appropriate.

Hacerse la mosquita muerta - to play dumb

  • sounds more like ´hacerse el tonto´ ;-) - mediterrunio Oct 20, 2010 flag
  • hmm yes, I think they are all closely connected and depends on context. :) - galsally Oct 24, 2010 flag
  • I hear "hacerse pato" here =D - NikkiLR Jan 28, 2012 flag
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