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Ten Spanish words that English should adopt right now

Some Spanish words are so good at perfectly describing a feeling, experience or person you have to wonder why the English language hasn't adopted them yet. The Local has chosen ten linguistic gems that should be immediately adopted into the English language.

spanish words english should have
There's actually a word in Spanish to describe the space between your eyebrows. Photo: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay

1. Espabilar: To liven up, to come to one’s senses, to get one’s act together, to wise up, to get a move on, to wake up!

Example: “¡Espabila!¡Qué vas a perder el vuelo!” (Get your arse in gear or you’ll miss your flight!)

espabilar meaning english

Photo: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay

2. Maruja: a traditional working-class housewife who enjoys gossiping about her neighbours and eavesdropping on others. She’s the informal broadcaster of radio patio, the so-called courtyard radio where most of the chitchat takes place.

Example: “Menuda maruja estás hecha, deja de chismorrear” (You’re such a maruja, stop gossiping).

maruja meaning english

Photo: Nick Karvounis/Unsplash
3. Estrenar: to wear or use something for the first time. It can also be used for new clothing or for a film or play that’s premiering.
Example: “Hoy estreno mis nuevas zapatillas rosas” (I’m wearing my new pink sneakers for the first time today).
estrenar meaning in english

Photo: Joshua Coleman/Unsplash
4. Cachondeo: Lack of seriousness. This may refer to messing about in both a positive sense and a negative one. 
Examples:  “Nos pasamos la tarde de cachondeo” (We spent the afternoon mucking about) 
“Menudo cachondeo de gobierno.” (This government is a joke)
cachondeo meaning english

Photo: Eliott Reyna/Unsplash
5. Pagafantas: Literally meaning Fanta buyer, it usually refers to guys who buy drinks for girls and treat them nicely, but never actually get remotely close to sealing the deal in the relationship sense.
Example: “No seas tan pagafantas, deja de mimarla“, (Don’t be such a pagantas, stop spoiling her).
pagafantas meaning english

Photo: Adam Ashtamkar/Unsplash
6. Guiri: (Urban Dictionary def.) a somewhat pejorative term for a foreigner, usually a tourist, who happens to be in Spain and stands out as being pretty obviously not a local.
The term is usually used to refer to fairer-skinned people from the likes of Great Britain, Germany or Sweden, for example.
Example: “Benidorm está lleno de guiris.” (Benidorm is full of northern European tourists).

Photo: Marc Pascual/ Pixabay
7. Trapichear: to eke out a living by buying and selling, to carry out shady deals, to wheel and deal.
Example: “Siempre son los mismos trapicheando en la plaza“, (It’s always the same ones wheeling and dealing in the square).
spanish words english should have

Photo: Martin Zaenkert/Unsplash
8. Empalagar: To feel sick from eating too many sweet things. 
Example: “No me gusta el merenge, es demasiado dulce y empalaga“, (I don’t like merengue, it’s too sweet and it makes me feel sick”.
empalagar meaning english

Photo: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay
9. Desvelado: Unable to sleep because you are kept awake by someone or something.
Example: “El llanto del bebé consiguió desvelar a todos” (The baby’s crying succeeded in keeping everyone awake). 
desvelado meaning english

Photo: Matthew Henry/Unsplash
10. Entrecejo: The space between the eyebrows.
Example: “No tiene entrecejo, es cejijunto.” (He has no space between his eyebrows, just a monobrow). 
spanish words english should have

Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

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Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Chiringuito’

Here’s one of the most summer-themed Spanish words out there, so you need to add it to your vocab. 

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Chiringuito'

When Spaniards think of summer, they often picture vacaciones (holidays), sol y playa (sun and beach) and tinto de verano (red wine mixed with soda/lemonade and ice – don’t diss it until you’ve tried it). 

And the place where they’re most likely to enjoy all these placeres del verano (summer pleasures) is at a chiringuito

Un chiringuito is essentially a beach bar. 

They’re usually small establishments that serve drinks and food to beachgoers during the sweltering summer months, meaning that many don’t open for the rest of the year. 

You’ll get the more rough and ready ones, wooden huts with dried out palm leaves providing shade as the radio blasts los éxitos del verano (the summer hits), to the more refined chiringuitos that are essentially like upmarket beachside gastrobars serving up plates of sardines as if they were haute cuisine. 

The word chiringuito (pronounced chee-reeng-gee-toh, the u in silent) was brought to Spain by los Indianos, the name given to Spaniards who emigrated to South and Central America in the 19th and 20th centuries and then returned to Spain, often with a lot more money under their belt. 

They would order a chiringuito when they wanted un café, a word used by Cubans who worked on sugar plantations to refer to how the coffee they made would filter through a stocking squirted out like a stream (chorro or chiringo).

The first beach kiosk to be dubbed a chiringuito was in 1949 in the coastal Catalan town of Sitges, where many wealthy Indianos settled. 

Then came the hippie movement in the sixties, the explosion of tourism in Spain and the hoards of beachgoers needing refreshing drinks to get some respite from the sun.

In 1983, chiringuito made it into the Spanish dictionary and in 1988 French pop singer Georgie Dann hit the charts with El Chiringuito.

These simple wooden beach huts were now officially part of Spanish culture.

But chiringuito has another meaning in Spain which pays heed to the informal nature of these establishments. 

Nowadays, chiringuito is often used to refer to a shady business, a government department born from cronyism, a bunch of cowboys basically.

Headline in Spanish right-wing news website OK Diario reads “Sánchez increased shady public enterprises (chiringuitos) by 10 percent as GDP plummeted due to the coronavirus”.

We certainly know what kind of chiringuito we prefer.

There’s also the expression “cerrar el chiringuito”, which means to finish a duty and leave.


Vamos a tomar unas cañas y un pescaito al chiringuito.

Let’s go and have some beers and some fish at the beach bar. 

Si quieres mantener tus inversiones a salvo has de alejarte todo lo lejos que puedas de lo que se conoce como chiringuito financiero.

If you want to keep your investments safe you have to get away as far as you can from shady companies.

Ya es tarde, habrá que pensar en cerrar el chiringuito e irse a casa.

It’s late, time to finish work and go home.