Spanish word of the day: 'Morbo'

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Spanish word of the day: 'Morbo'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Wisegie/Flickr

The lines between what’s morbidly fascinating and sexually appealing are blurred when it comes to this Spanish word.


Why do I need to know this word?

For starters, it will help you understand why your friend keeps talking about the guy that she likes as ‘morbidly fascinating’ when he’s just an average Joe (or Jose in this case). 

“Morbo” is a noun in Spanish which can mean curiosity, fascination and of course morbidness, or as described in Spain’s official RAE dictionary: “something of unwholesome interest”. 

But in Spanish - as opposed to in English - it can also have a more explicitly sexual meaning. 

If someone gives your morbo – “me da morbo” – it means that you’re sexually attracted to them, they make you horny or turn you on.

That person doesn’t necessarily have to look like Frankenstein for you to use the expression either. They just have that ‘unsuited’ or ‘forbidden fruit’ side to them. 


There’s also the adjective “morboso” which can again refer to something macabre, depraved or morbid as well as something kinky. 

A person can also be described as “un/a morboso/a”, which isn’t exactly a complement, primarily meaning sicko or pervert.

And of course there’s the original meaning of “morbo” or “morboso” which refers to disease or a lack of health (morbidity) in a pathological sense, used nowadays mainly in a medical context. 

Argentinian news show in which a parallel is drawn between sexuality and death. 

When should I use this expression?

Overall “morbo” is used in fairly informal settings. 

It can of course be employed to describe a situation where for example the general public is morbidly fascinated by the news stories of a modern-day Jack The Ripper (Jack El Destripador), which is perfectly acceptable in all contexts. 

It can also be employed to refer to situations which may be cringeworthy, tense, uncomfortable or exciting even. The Real Madrid – Barça football matches are referred to as “el partido del morbo” because of the anticipation and squabbling that often precedes them, especially if a player has signed for the opposite side. 

But if “morbo” is used to describe sexual attraction, it’s probably best to save it for someone who you feel comfortable with, as you’re effectively saying you want to sleep with someone or that you’re horny.

Can you give me some examples?

A veces cuando ves un accidente el morbo te impide quitar la mirada.

Sometimes when you see an accident, morbid fascination prevents you from looking away.


El Sevilla – Betis es el partido del morbo en Andalucía

Sevilla Betis is the match that everybody gets excited about in Andalusia


Paco es un imbécil pero me da mucho morbo, no se que me pasa.

Paco is an idiot but he turns me on, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. 


Los tacones de aguja me dan morbo, me parecen muy morbosos. 

Stilettos make me horny, I find them very kinky. 


Es un morboso, se pasa el día viendo porno.

He’s a perv, he spends all day watching porn.


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