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AlwaysSpanish is Retiring!

After a long awkward silence, here's something to break the ice – all over again. I can totally see why you should be upset to see no action from the Burro for over a month now, but trust me, your wait was all worth it. The news here is that your beloved Burro has just moved into a brand new home – one that's a whole lot richer, swankier, and easier to live in. I'm talking about PeppyBurro. That's the name of the new website! Isn't that cool? At least it tells you all about the Burro's pepped up temperament right off the bat, right? This post is not about Spanish-learning tricks (although I will drop in a couple out of habit, I guess) or grammar lessons. This one's all about our new home!

The Witchcraft Of Spanish Vocabulary

The very first step to conquering a language is to tame its vocabulary. And sadly, that's the part that puts off most novice learners because memorizing strange-sounding words is too darn boring! A never-ending chant of rote rehearsal and a nervous prayer can see you through an upcoming test, but the process just won't cut it if your goal is to actually use the language in the street. It's a mystery how this incredibly inefficient method has survived this long and still continues to be perpetuated by schools and educators around the world. So is there any nirvana around this assault of monotony in our miserable lives? Anything that could make learning foreign words less painful?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Spanish has retired. Please visit the new blog at for all future articles.

Swear In Spanish Like The Natives

Everyone learning Spanish aspires to eventually be able to swear (jurar) and use dirty words (usar palabras guarras) in real crude Spanish and appear native. Fine, maybe not everyone but many do. The ability to use swear words (maldiciones/tacos) is largely considered the ultimate sign of proficiency with the Spanish language. While I personally don’t necessarily subscribe to this school of thought, it’s fun and it kills monotony nonetheless. Please use your discretion beyond this point as quite a few words and phrases listed are pretty loaded and explicit. This is what they call “el lenguaje soez” (“the low language”).

The words for profanity

Profanity is as integral to Spanish as it is to English
Profanity is as integral to Spanish as it is to English
Photo credit: Randal Sheppard licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
While classrooms and teachers do everything possible to steer clear of such language, profanity is an essential spice in any tongue and a knowledge of some common ones would definitely lighten you up and pump you with the much required motivation, if nothing else. Now, before we start with the list of cuss words in Spanish, let’s first learn what the word itself (“profanity”) is called in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Here’s a list of names used to refer to profanity in some countries where this language is spoken.

tacos (in Spain)

palabras sucias (in Panama)

lisuras (in Peru)

puteadas (in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay)

bardeos (in Argentina)

desvergue (in El Salvador)

groserias, majaderías, or maldiciones (in Mexico)

garabatos (in Chile)

plebedades (in the Colombian Caribbean)

The words of profanity

Spanish has a remarkably rich vocabulary of swear words that range in variety from single-word cusses like, cabrón, to full-phrase chants like, métetelo por el culo. It is this crude linguistic demeanor of native speakers that is bound to win you over despite their vulgarity. No matter what your take on using profanity in any Spanish-acquisition program is, you must agree that these words color the language in ways otherwise largely unexplored.

Phrases of profanity, like idiomatic expressions, are rarely translatable into other languages and hence most translations offered in this list are vague and do not reflect the truly intended sense most accurately. Nevertheless, this list should serve as an appropriate jumping-board for those learning Spanish profanity. Also it is worth keeping in mind that the same phrase or word could carry varying degrees of insult in different communities and while a word might be light-humored in one, it could easily be taboo in another!

By the way, just to tickle your curiosity, most words of profanity in Mexican Spanish begin with the letter, “p”!

Fuck! – ¡Joder! / ¡Hostia!

Fuck off/you/yourself! – ¡Qué te jodan! / ¡Jódete!

Don’t fuck with me! – ¡No me jodas!

What a rotter! – ¡Qué cabrón!

Stick it up your ass! – ¡Métetelo por el culo!

Don’t be such a wanker – No seas tan cabrón

Bastard! / Motherfucker! – ¡Cabrón!

Fucking hell! – ¡Manda huevos!

Cock sucker – Mama bicho / Mama guebo / Mamahuevo

Dammit! / Bloody Hell! – ¡Coño! (literally means “cunt” in English but much milder to Spanish ears)

Dickhead/Jerk/Idiot! – ¡Gilipollas!

Slut – Malparida / Piruja / Zopupla / Zorra

Go to hell! – ¡Vete a la mierda! / ¡Vete al infierno!

Shit! – ¡Mierda!

Pinche: A keyword of Mexican profanity
Pinche: A keyword of Mexican profanity
Photo credit: hiperkarma licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
For goodness sake! – ¡La madre que me/te/los parió! (literally, “the mother who gave birth to me/you/them”)

How annoying! – ¡Qué putada!

Son of a bitch! – ¡Hijo de puta! / ¡Puta madre!

Eat shit and die! – ¡Come mierda y muerte!

To be the best – Ser el puto amo

Fuck in hell! – ¡Manda huevos!

Ass-face – Cara de culo

Wanker – Pajero

Faggot – Marica

Blow me! – ¡Chupame la pija!

Gay – Joto

Fucking whore – Pinche puta

Suck my dick! – ¡Mamame la verga!

Asshole! – ¡Capullo!

Stupid idiot! – ¡Tonto del culo!

Fucking pussy – Pinche punetas

Fucking dickhead – Pinche pendejo

Slander – Injuria

To swear – Echar votos y reniegos

I shit on everything that moves! – ¡Me cago en todo lo que se menea!

Asshole – Forro (Used mostly in Argentina)

Idiot/Stupid – Boludo

To Blaspheme – Renegar

Before you start cursing

Now, that we have learned some of the most common words of insult used all over the Spanish-speaking world, it is about time we laid down some ground rules before we start stringing them into sentences to be used with unsuspecting locals in your neighborhood.

Swearing is more prevalent in Spain; Latin America is relatively gentler when it comes to slinging insults. Not sure if this has anything to do with their cultures but it is infinitely important that you thoroughly understand the subtle tones and contexts of each of these words so you don’t end up offending someone with more refined ears.

And just in case you are guessing this is all there is, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. The world is big and so is your average Spanish-speaker’s vocabulary of profanity. In fact, there are hundreds and thousands of profane words and phrases that native speakers use in their daily lives. Besides, the same profanity could have different meanings in different contexts or regions. Knowledge of such subtle differences is very important before you start incorporating these cuss words or any strongly negative adjective into your daily speech. In fact, this vocabulary is better acquired for the sake of knowledge instead of active usage. Know them so you understand when someone is using them but be safe and avoid using them at all under any circumstances whatsoever.

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  1. Very nice. It's an Interesting list. I'm glad you took the time write this post as most people shy away from writing about bad words.

    It would be nice to know what country / countries use the expressions you've selected are used in. Swear words vary dramatically from country to country and even regionally with in a country.

    I'm mostly familiar with Mexican Spanish and Mexicans use a whole different set of swear words.

    For example, in Mexican Spanish you're likely to hear:

    Chúpame la verga for suck my dick
    Ojete is asshole
    Penedjo would be used for idiot/stupid, or even asshole in some cases

    To be the best - Chingón

    You can take a look at the blog below for a good resource on swearing in Mexican Spanish, although it does address bad words from other countries and even dives into some sex related Spanish.

    No Seas Pelangoche

    Another example is in the Dominican Republic you're probably going to hear coño used more so than mierda for shit.

    Anyway, thanks for this post, not enough people write about swearing. I hope you write more posts like this. And keep up the good work, this is a great blog!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can understand why most educators are touchy about this subject but we can’t deny the fact that swear words provide us an interesting insight into the lifestyle of any culture. Of course, they also do add quite a bit of spice to your otherwise mundane language-learning exercise. Salud

  3. Careful with who you call gillipollas in Spain, it is generally the one you don´t want to use loosely, and to be saved for serious anger.

  4. Thank you for adding some extra spice in learning Spanish. Watching Spanish movies, I kept hearing the word "mierda", but I was unable to find a translation for it, Now I know. I would love to see more post from you.

  5. You're welcome and thanks for your kind words, Sammy. Currently I am busy working on a new Spanish vocabulary acquisition book based on the techniques discussed here. It's due for release this summer and time is slipping though our fingers. But keep watching, a new post is around the corner! :)


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