14 Spanish Curse Words Every Learner Should Eventually Know
- Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide
Passionate language teacher and translator. Wife, mother of 3 and amateur surfer.
There’s always a moment in Spanish where you’ll need to express annoyance, frustration, amazement or how angry you are.
That’s where curse words come in handy!
If you thought the English language has a range of swear words, you’ll do a double-take when you see how many palabrotas the Spanish language has.
Spanish curse words are not only insulting, but they’re also quite creative so you’ll just have to find out what they mean.
If curiosity brought you here, or you’ve been hearing a particular Spanish curse word repeatedly on the streets of Spain or Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, and wondered ‘what does it mean?’ this is where you’ll get your answer!
There’s some colorful Spanish language ahead. Not suitable for kids.
Spanish curse words to add to your vocabulary
Maximising your Spanish knowledge is important, which includes Spanish curse words.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently used Spanish curse words (translated) so you can add them to your vocabulary.
Cabrón as a palabrota evolved from the literal meaning of the word in English, which is ‘huge goat’.
It translates to English as ‘bastard’. The word was used to describe men who were unfaithful to their partners.
It can be used to insult someone or, as a complete phrase qué cabrón, it can be used ironically.
As a curse word, it’s not considered a strong one.
There are many other stronger Spanish curse words and phrases on this list.
Puta/ hijo de puta
In English, we have the phrase ‘son of a bitch’, which is exactly what hijo de puta translates to.
To get a bit technical, puta translates to English as ‘bitch’, while hijo means ‘son’ or ‘daughter’.
In action movies, you’ll hear hijo de puta a lot - especially when the protagonist is just about to defeat the evil guy. But it’s not only used for these types of exchanges. It can be used to express shocked admiration.
Here’s an example of hijo de puta being used:
No puedo creerlo. ¡Hijo de puta! ¡Has ganado otra vez!
There’s a whole story behind this Spanish curse word.
Some say it originates from several centuries ago when a man named Don Baltasar Gil, was looking for suitors for his daughters.
Passing through Madrid with his hijas, he received negative attention from onlookers.
Given that women were referred to as ‘pollas’ in the sixteenth century, the onlookers quickly coined the phrase gilipollas to describe them.
It blends his name Gil the conjunction y and the word pollas.
Gilipollas means ‘idiot’ or ‘fool’, and there is a variation of this curse word, which is gilitonto.
This Spanish curse word has quite a few meanings.
It can translate to English as ‘fuck’, ‘shit’ or ‘damn’. It can also refer to male genitalia as a pejorative insult.
Here’s an example of how to use this Spanish insult:
Al carajo tus ideas. No tienen sentido. Eres un tonto.
Que te den por culo
There are many palabrotas and Spanish curse words that refer to the body. Que te den por culo is one example.
It’s not particularly pleasant.
An English translation would give you ‘up yours’ or ‘fuck you up the ass’.
In general terms, though, it is used to tell someone to ‘fuck off’.
¿Pero eres un tonto o qué? Te pedí que no le hablaras de María. Que te den por culo.
This curse word might seem like an extreme insult, but it’s used generally to show irritation.
It means ‘cunt’ in English. You’ll hear it very often in Spain.
Just like the word cojones, coño is a word that has lost its literal meaning.
It’s used so often that people just link it with feelings of anger. So, it can also be interpreted as ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’.
Here’s one example of how it can be used:
Han metido otro maldito gol, ¡coño! No puedo creerlo. Apaga la tele.
This one is not a terrible insult. The literal translation would be ‘clown’.
You can use it to describe someone who’s has done something ridiculous, or who can be considered a laughing stock.
For instance, in some disputes, you might hear someone say:
Eres una payasa y no sabes nada. Deja de ser tan cotilla.
Mierda translates to English as ‘shit’.
You can use it when something irritating or shocking happens Say you drop your phone on the floor. You might say:
Mierda, espero que no haya roto.
Or you might cut yourself shaving and say:
Mierda. ¡Me he cortado!
You could also call someone una mierda.
It can be used to call say that someone ‘sucks’.
However, it could be taken in a metaphorical sense, as the word mierda refers to excrement as well.
Eres una mierda. Se acabo. Nunca te hablaré más.
You’ll likely hear this one a lot in many social contexts.
Joder means ‘fuck’.
It’s not an extreme insult.
It can be used jokingly or seriously with the suffix -ido to describe situations where someone is in a bad situation.
Hombre, habla con tu mujer. ¡Si no, estás jodido!
Que te jodan
Que te jodan is the extended version of joder.
It translates to English as ‘fuck you’.
You can use it in similar contexts to the English version, such as when you’re annoyed with someone.
¡No me has llamado en tres semanas! Pues, si no quieres hablar, ¡que te jodan!
Cojones/ los cojones
If you use cojones on its own, you’re referring to testicles.
But this word can take on plenty of meanings.
For instance, you could say ¡manda cojones! if you want to express how annoyed you are.
You could also say ¡los cojones! when emphasizing that you won’t be taken in by someone’s lies or excuses.
It sort of means ‘no way’, or ‘I don’t believe that’.
¿Quieres tomar unas cañas? Saldremos a las dos de la mañana.
Es que, no puedo. Tengo que hacer cosas en casa.
¡Los cojones! ¡A las dos de la mañana!
If you’re the life and soul of the party, someone might call you la puta madre.
If a wedding celebration was fantastic, someone might call it la puta madre.
And if a concert was great - you guessed it - they would call it la puta madre.
La puta madre means ‘fucking mother’ but it is a compliment.
It has made the list because sometimes it can be used as an insult.
I’ve also included it to show you the difference between this phrase and hija de puta, which I have already covered.
Me cago en la leche
With many Spanish idioms, leche is used as a metaphor for luck or mood.
For example, you’ve got the phrase que mala leche which means ‘to be in a bad mood’.
You also have the phrase eres la leche which means ‘you’re great’.
The literal translation of me cago en la leche is ‘I shit in the milk’.
It can be used to describe a situation where you’ve been unlucky.
Here’s an example of how it’s used:
Tengo gripe y quería ir a la fiesta. Mierda. Me cago en la leche.
Another popular expression is me cago en todo, which means “I shit on everything” (listen to this song by Andres Calamaro).
Vete a la mierda
This last insult is heard in romantic series where the protagonist is about to break up with their partner. It means ‘go to the sh*t’, or might be interpreted in English as ‘go to hell’.
The word vete is an imperative, so it can be used to show how angry you are as it’s a command.
No quiero volver a verte. ¡Vete a la mierda!
Why is knowing and understanding Spanish curse words important?
Besides being able to express your feelings, understanding Spanish swear words in social events can help you blend in, in social situations.
It can mean the difference between nodding along, agreeing in an absent-minded way, and being able to interject or reply to what your Spanish speaking friends say with insight.
Just as understanding Spanish slang helps you understand Spanish natives, knowing your la puta madres from your hija de putas is important. It can make a real difference to your conversations. 😊
Equally important is knowing the appropriate situations in which to use Spanish curse words.
Because even though curse words might be pretty fun to learn, you should obviously try to avoid using some of these cuss words during formal conversations.
If you’re in a meeting and you address someone as una puta, you might land yourself in a lot of trouble!
Pick the right moments and practice your Spanish curse words
When’s the right time to practice using Spanish curse words? Perhaps not at work!
Perhaps not with your in-laws, or with people who you don’t know very well. You’re probably best trying them out with your Spanish friends.
In most Spanish courses, probably not going to be introduced to many of these versatile Spanish swear words.
Listen to how they’re used in context and get a sense of their meaning.
The tone used is also quite important (just like English).
As soon as you hear a Spanish curse word being used, make a mental note of how it was used and the tone of voice used.
You’ll soon be blending right in. 😊
Got any other Spanish curse or cuss words you’d like to see here?
List them below in the comments!
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