Having lived in Spain for over five years now, I’ve come to love their colorful language. The Spaniards have an alarmingly rich vocabulary of swear words and vulgarities – ranging from one-word cusses to full-sentence chants like ‘me cago en todo lo que se menea!‘. When speaking to a typical Spanish man, it’s almost strange not to hear a full sentence with anything erm… crude.
Mind you, I adore the Spanish language: combined with expressive hand gestures, it’s full of vigor, passion and emotions. The Spaniards for one, have always captivated my heart with their sultry linguistic demeanors.
If you get to know the Spaniards and learn Spanish well enough, you’ll come to observe that they tend to use palabrotas (swear words in Spanish) openly in their daily conversation. Words like ‘coño’ (cunt) don’t contain extremely vulgar connotations, and so are used commonly by people in Spain.
In comparison, the Latin Americans tend to be a tad bit more gentle in their language. But before you start stringing sentences with a long list of cusses, bear in mind that without the correct usage, you might just end up offending the more refined ones, or end up with a bunch of giggling audience.
Let me sum up the top swear words most frequently used in Spain. Without them, life wouldn’t be this colorful or should i say- de puta madre!
1 Joder! (hho-DErr)
The first Spanish word I learned literally translates to ‘fuck’. For example: You forgot to bring your phone out, Joder! They’re not showing your favourite TV show anymore, Joder! Damn I have to wake up early tomorrow, Joder! It’s just part and parcel of daily life in Spain. It’s used in many power-packed sentences like ‘Que te jodan! (Fuck you!)’.
2 Mierda! (mi-err-da)
This literally means ‘shit’, and is the most lightweight of all these swear words. It makes a perfect combination with many words to give a better impact, such as ‘Come mierda! (A shit-eater!)’.
3 Gilipollas (hhi-li-PO-yas)
Used frequently to describe bastards, the word ‘Gilipollas’ is simply served as a retorting cuss. When someone pisses you off, or even teases you, you would call him a ‘Gilipollas’. Translated literally, ‘gili’ comes from a latin word meaning ‘son’.
4 Qué Cabrón! (kehh cabrON)
In reality, ‘cabrón’ refers to a big male goat, with giant horns. As the old Spanish saying goes, a man whose wife is cheating on him is called a ‘cabrón’ i.e. his horns are growing. Everyone then started using ‘Que Cabrón!’(What a bastard!), to swear at others. It’s quite a mild cuss, and often used just as a sarcastic remark instead of a real curse.
5 Los cojones! (los co-hho-nehs)
The Spanish men are known as ‘machotes’ (macho men who are proud of their balls), and so, besides the toros (bulls) and the corridas(running of the bulls), they love to show their masculinity by adding the word ‘cojones’ (literally means ‘testicals’) to their colorful language. It tends to be used more like the word ‘Bullshit!’ in English, in occasions when someone is trying to give you some crappy excuse, you would respond with ‘Los Cojones!’
6 Me cago en todo lo que se menea!
My personal favorite Spanish swear word of all. It is long yet packs a punch. Whenever I hear my husband chant this long cuss while driving, I crack up. It literally means ‘I shit on everything that moves.’ (strangely unvulgar but can be loosely translated to mean ‘fuck’ in Spanish.) ‘Me cago en…’ is a very commonly used cuss, and can be combined with anything and everything that comes to mind, like ‘Me cago en Dios’ (..on God) or ‘Me cago en tus muertos’ (..on your dead relatives).
7 La madre que te parió!
In my personal opinion, this would be top on the list of the most frequently used curse. It literally means, ‘the mother who gave birth to you!’ It is used in the same way as ‘motherfucker’ in English. Usually used as part of a sentence for example: ‘Me cago en la madre que te parió!’ (I shit on the mother who gave birth to you.), it has the same effects as dropping a huge bomb!
Translated to the English swear word, ‘son of a bitch!’, it’s used in the exact same way as English, except almost ten times the frequency. It is however mostly used to tease someone, especially as a sarcastic or envious remark. Your friend gets a promotion – hijo de puta! Your brother is traveling around the world– hijo de puta! He just bought a 40inch plasma TV- hijo de puta!
9 Tonto del culo
Slightly milder than all the previous curses, this translates to ‘an idiot of the ass’ and it’s used to refer to how stupid/silly someone can be. It’s useful in all occasions.
10 Puta madre (poo-tah madre)
Literally meaning ‘fucking mother’, it can be used to curse but can also be used positively. As a form of exaggeration, it is commonly used to describe how good something is. For example: ‘Esta fiesta está de puta madre!’ (This is a fuckin’ good party!). ‘Puta madre!’ is often used to express great satisfaction, eg. ‘Barcelona won! de puta madre!
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