SHARE
COPY LINK
THE LOCAL LIST
For members

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

How to hurl insults like a Spaniard

Spaniards, from young children to old people, just love to swear. The Local gives you a round-up of some of the more bizarre phrases.

How to hurl insults like a Spaniard

Unlike in many other countries, references to toilet habits, male and female genitalia and other taboo subjects pop up in general conversations all the time without anyone giving it a second thought.

What’s all this about people doing their business in “the milk”? And why do “testicles” keep being mentioned?

Swearing in Spain is as common as it is ludicrous, so if you wish to embrace the ever-present potty language or simply want to understand what your Spanish friends are trying to convey, read on!


Photo: Vengel Crimson

Me cago en la leche: Spaniards metaphorically crap on all kinds of things when they want to express anger or frustration; from God Almighty (Dios), to 'your' mother (tu madre) and the salty sea (la mar salada). Perhaps the most bizarre thing they choose to mentally defecate on is 'the milk'. All these expressions sound very vulgar in English but in Spanish they're so common most recipients would barely bat an eyelid.

READ MORE: Five ways that 'leche' means more than just 'milk' in Spain


Photo: Kristem Shoemaker

Que coñazo!: If you think this translation sounds bad enough, let us assure you the more literal one would have sounded a lot worse. If something is a drag you use the expression '¡Qué coñazo!'. The Spanish C-word, much more socially acceptable than in English-speaking countries, is also used to express everything from surprise to indignation: ¡Coño!. Don't be surprised if you hear everyone from grandmothers to schoolkids shouting it out at top volume.


Photo: David Goehring

Hostia (host/body of Christ): Probably the most common form of blasphemy used by Spaniards. If someone or something is 'la hostia', it is amazing or the bee's knees. 'Hostia!' on its own is used as damn or bloody hell are in English. Then there's to give someone a host, dar una hostia, which means to smack or hit someone.


Photo: Francesco Rachello

Estar pedo/llevar un pedo: 'To be fart' or 'to carry a fart' has nothing to do with flatulence surprisingly. Although the word for a fart in Spanish is pedo, the expressions are a colloquial way of saying 'to be drunk'. For interest's sake, in Spanish you throw a fart if you want to say you've passed wind – tirarse un pedo. Not that you would make that public knowledge!


Photo: Alec Schueler

Me importa tres cojones: This saying means 'I couldn't give a damn' in English. 'Why testicles?' you may ask. Well, 'cojones' (balls/nuts in English) is commonly recognized as the Spanish word with the highest number of derivative meanings. It's used as a verb (acojonar – to scare), as an adjective (acojonante-amazing) and many more! Even the number of 'cojones' can change the whole meaning of the sentence: ¡Y un cojón! means 'not a chance!' while 'hacer algo con dos cojones' means to be brave.


Photo: Paolo Camera

De puta madre: Calling someone a 'hijo de puta' (son of a bitch) might land you in trouble in Spain despite the customary use of swearwords by many Spaniards. But the most common superlative in colloquial Spanish is 'de puta madre', which means great or awesome. It can also be used as an adverb: juega de puta madre – he plays really well.


Photo: Thomas Beck

Llevar los huevos de corbata: Male genitalia used again in a common colloquial expression in Castilian Spanish. To wear your balls as a tie translates as being tense or nervous. In fact, Spaniards will often hold their throat and say 'this is where I have my balls'- con los huevos aquí- when they want to express nervousness or fear.


Photo: Joseph Choi

Está que te cagas: Why something being good would induce toilet troubles is another mystery. But Spaniards, mainly young ones, will very often use this saying when they're excited about how great something is. There's also “¡Cágate!”, or crap yourself. You say this when you want to express shock or surprise.

List compiled by Alex Dunham 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.

Greetings

Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

 

Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 

Shopping

Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?

 

READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now

SHOW COMMENTS