Last Updated on June 27, 2022 by Nellie Huang

When I moved to Spain, the first things I learned from my local friends were Spanish swear words. Don’t underestimate the power of curse words!

As you probably know, Spain is my second home. I married a Spaniard and lived in Spain for over 7 years, during which I got to know its people and language really well.

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!” (I sh*t on everything that moves!).

Mind you, I adore the Spanish language. When used with expressive hand gestures, it’s full of vigor, passion and emotions. The Spaniards have always captivated my heart with their sultry linguistic demeanors. Learning the language has definitely helped me to make more connections and truly understand their cultural heritage and Spanish cuisine.

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spanish swear words - madrid

Learning to Swear in Spanish

When I first started learning the language (15 years ago!), Spanish swear words were the first things I learned. My Spanish friends were more than eager to impart their knowledge on all things vulgar. But as they say, learning to swear is just part and parcel of learning a new language.

If you learn the Spanish language well and understand the different Spanish accents, you’ll come to observe that they tend to use swear words openly in their daily conversation. Words like ‘coño’ (c*nt) don’t contain extremely vulgar connotations, and so are used commonly by people in Spain.

In writing this post, I’m not saying you should go out on a cussing fest and swear everywhere you go in Spain. For one, please don’t use these swear words with your Spanish teachers or host family or newly minted Spanish friends. I recommend learning some Spanish basics (not just cuss words) before any trip to Spain, as most people don’t speak a second language.

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spanish swear words - spanish 101

15 Best Spanish Swear Words

Here’s a round up of the top swear words most frequently used in Spain. Keep in mind I’m not talking about Spain here, the Latin American countries tend to use slightly different swear words. Without these swear words, life wouldn’t be this colorful or should I say- de puta madre! 

1. Joder! 

Pronunciation: hho-derr!

Meaning: F*ck

The first Spanish word I learned literally translates to ‘f**k’. It’s not really offensive, and used casually by everyone I know in Spain — even my mother-in-law says it to my 3-year-old daughter!

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 used in many power-packed sentences like ‘Jodete!’ or ‘Que te jodan!’ (both means ‘F**k you!’). A lot of people say joder without the “d” as a lazy, shortened version, so it sounds more like ‘jo-eh’.

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spanish swear words - swear jar

2. Mierda!

Pronunciation: mi-ehrr-da

Meaning: Sh*t

This literally means ‘sh*t’, and is the most lightweight of all the swear words on this list. Most people use it to express anger or frustration.

Many people tend to elongate the ‘r’ when they’re saying ‘mierda’ for impact.

It makes a perfect combination with many words to give a better impact, such as ‘Come mierda!’ (Eat sh*t!) or ‘se va a la mierda’ (Going downhill)’. For example, este lugar se va a la mierda, means this place is going to sh*t and falling apart.

spanish swear words - mierda

3. Gilipollas

Pronunciation: hee-li-pohhh-yas

Meaning: Idiot or jerk 

Used frequently to describe idiots, the word ‘Gilipollas’ is simply used to describe someone as a dumbass, idiot or jerk. ‘Gili’ just means idiot and can be combined with other words for more impact.

For instance, you can say ‘gilipuertas‘ or ‘gilitonto’ and they all mean more or less the same thing: idiot.

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spanish swear words - middle finger

4. Qué Cabrón!

Pronunciation: kehh kah bron

Meaning: What a bastard!

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.

top spanish swear words

5. Los cojones!

Pronunciation: los co-hhoh-nehs

Meaning: Balls!

Spanish men are known as ‘machotes’ (macho men who are proud of their balls). They love to show their masculinity by adding the word ‘cojones’ (literally means testicles/balls) to their colorful language.

It tends to be used more like the word ‘Yah right!’ in English, in occasions when someone is trying to give you some crappy excuse, you would respond with ‘Los Cojones!’

It’s also one of the most versatile Spanish swear words. You can also use it to say ‘tienes cojones’ which means ‘you have balls’ or that you are bold.

spanish swear words - no swearing sign

6. Me cago en todo lo que se menea!

Pronunciation: meh cagon-todo-lo-keh seh-meh-neh-ah 

Meaning: I sh*t on everything that moves!

This is a long one, and the most powerful one in my opinion. My personal favorite Spanish swear word of all. It is long yet packs a punch.

I crack up whenever I hear my husband chant this long cuss while driving, and he does that a lot! It literally means ‘I sh*t on everything that moves.’ (strangely unvulgar but can be loosely translated to mean ‘f**k’ 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).

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spanish swear words

7. Me cago en dios!

Pronunciation: meh cagon di-ohs 

Meaning: I sh*t on God!

Holy moly — those who believe in God should totally skip to the next swear word! This is one hell of a swear word. It translates literally to mean ‘I sh*t on God!’.

It might sound totally disrespectful, especially in a Catholic country like Spain, but it’s surprisingly common to hear it especially in southern Spain.

Basically, ‘me cago en’ can be used in many different combinations, such as ‘me cago en tus muertos’ (I sh*t on your death!) or ‘me cago en la leche’ (I sh*t on milk). They generally mean the same, bloody hell and f*ck.

spanish swear words - learning spanish

8. La madre que te parió!

Pronunciation: la ma-dreh keh te pah-ri-ohh

Meaning: Motherf**ker

In my personal opinion, this is the most vulgar curse ever and something I wouldn’t personally use. It translates literally to mean, ‘the mother who gave birth to you’ meaning you are cursing someone’s mother. It is used in the same way as ‘motherf**ker’ in English.

It’s usually used as part of a sentence for example: ‘Me cago en la madre que te parió!’ (I sh*t on the mother who gave birth to you.). Alberto likes to use this when he’s angry with our daughter and it pisses me off as he’s literally cursing me!

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best Spanish swear words

9.Hijo de puta 

Pronunciation: ee-hho deh poo tah

Meaning: Son of a bitch!

This translates literally to ‘son of a b*tch!’. ‘Hijo’ means son, ‘puta’ is bitch (which is often used on its own). 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 going on an epic trip – hijo de puta! He just bought a 40inch plasma TV- hijo de puta!

spanish swear words - hijo de puta

10. Tonto del culo

Pronunciation: ton-to del kuloh

Meaning: Idiot

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 often used with close friends.

For instance, Javier just turned down a great job offer, that tonto del culo

spanish swear words - next exit

11. Puta madre 

Pronunciation: poo-tah ma-dre

Meaning: Motherf**ker

Literally meaning ‘f**king 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 f**king good party!). ‘Puta madre!’ is often used to express great satisfaction, eg. ‘Barcelona won! de puta madre!

It’s one of the most commonly used Spanish swear words. Technically it sounds pretty harsh and vulgar, but because it’s used so commonly, it’s pretty accepted everywhere, even when using it with family.

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spanish swear words - more love please!

12. Coño

Pronunciation: koh-nyoh

Meaning: C*nt

As vulgar as this sounds, it’s actually used excessively in Spain. It’s not usually used to describe someone, but rather as a general swear like ‘Joder!’ to express surprise, anger or frustration.

I have heard it being used amongst my Spanish friends, family (a lot), and even in work environment in Spain.

For instance, ‘¡Coño, qué buena está!’ (Damn she looks good!) and ‘¿Dónde coño estás?’ (Where the f**k are you?). A more powerful version is ‘coñazo’ (meaning big c*nt), which is generally used to describe something that is boring, irritating or tedious.

spanish swear words - learn spanish

13. La hostia

Pronunciation: la oz-tiah

Meaning: Holy sh*t

Hold on to your seats ‘cos this one really does pack a punch! The word ‘hostia’ originates from Southern parts of Spain, where it’s used to describe the holy communion used in church.

Since Spain is such a Catholic country, incorporating the holy mother church can be one of the most offensive remarks you can say, depending on how religious a person is.

Hostia can be used one its own to say ‘sh*t’. But it’s usually combined with other words for more impact. For instance, you can say ‘hostia puta’, which means ‘Holy f**k’ or ‘me cago en la hostia’ (I sh*t on the host!).

A super harsh one would be  ‘Te voy a dar una hostia! (I’m gonna slap you in the face!).

spanish swear words

14. Qué te den (por culo)! 

Pronunciation: keh teh-den

Meaning: F**k off!

This literally translates to mean, ‘to give it to you through your ass! ‘Culo’ means ass or butt. In other words, you’re trying to say ‘go f**k yourself!” or ‘up yours!’. You can also simply say ‘que te den’, and it means the same.

spanish swear words

15. A tomar por culo!

Pronunciation: keh teh-den

Meaning: To hell with it!

Another one that involves some ass action. This Spanish cuss has two meanings. In general, it’s used to describe ‘to hell with it’ or ‘f**k it!”. For instance, you can say ‘Argh I need to study for my exam, but I’m so tired. A tomar por culo! I’m going to bed!’.

A second meaning for the phrase is actually not vulgar at all — it is used to describe something as very far.  For instance, ‘vive a tomar por culo de aqui‘ is an exaggerated way of saying ‘he lives very far from here’.

spanish swear words - do you speak spanish?

READ MORE: WHAT IT’S LIKE LIVING IN SPAIN

Do speak Spanish or are you learning Spanish? Don’t forget to check out my 20 language-learning tips! Share some of your other favorite Spanish words with us! 


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MY TOP TRAVEL RESOURCES

Over the years (and traveling to 140+ countries), I’ve learned a thing or two about travel planning. I’ve put together this list of travel resources that I personally use to find the best deals and book travel! For more details, check out my travel tips resource page.

  • Booking Flights: Kayak is brilliant for finding the best dates to fly as it allows you to search for the lowest airfares within a 3-day period. Then I use Skyscanner as they’ve consistently given me the lowest airfares. 
  • Accommodations: I always use Booking.com to book hotels, mainly because of the flexible cancellation policy and good customer service. You can also find short-term rental apartments there (I prefer not to use Airbnb due to the extra charges).
  • Travel Insurance: It’s important to have travel insurance, regardless of whether you’re traveling for a few days or months. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers any healthcare expenses I may have worldwide. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
  • Health Advice: I always refer to the travel guides on the CDC website for recommended medications and vaccines. You can get them at your travel doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Tours: If you’re looking for all-encompassing tours, I recommend small-group adventure tour outfitter, G Adventures. I’ve traveled with them to Antarctica, Mongolia, Svalbard, and Nepal, and loved every single trip. For day tours, I always book with Viator and GetYourGuide; they have easy booking systems and free cancellations.
  • Car Rental: I always book car rentals on Discover Cars, as they’ve consistently given us the best rates and customer service (with free cancellations). We’ve used them in Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Peru, and Mexico.
  • Transportation: Whenever possible, I book local transportation online using Bookaway and Busbud. They’re more reliable than many local transport websites and cover trains, buses, and car hire. 
  • Restaurants: TripAdvisor is my go-to resource for restaurant reviews and bookings. I also make restaurant reservations on OpenTable.
  • Travel WiFi: I always travel with my Travel WiFi Sapphire 2 device; it’s the most convenient way to get internet data on the go. Instead of getting a local SIM card in every country I travel, I get an internet data package online and the device works immediately when I land.

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