The word comes from listo, meaning clever, or bright. When you add -illo to many masculine nouns in Spanish, it indicates something endearing or small.This example is slightly different, however, and -illo changes the meaning completely and is almost used in a sarcastic or patronising, jokey way to change it from being clever to being a smart ass.
This may be seen as a negative word but it is also used affectionately among friends.
Let's look at some sentences:
- No me gustan los listillos, especialmente cuando creen que tienen razón.
I don’t like smart-asses, especially when they think they’re right.
When using the verb ir – we indicate that someone thinks that they're smart or that they're trying to be.
- Javier va de listillo cuando en realidad no tiene ni idea de nada.
Javier thinks he's clever but he doesn't have any idea about anything.
This word of the day has been contributed by LAE Madrid, the leading Spanish academy in Madrid. Accredited by the Insitituto Cervantes, it offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and families.