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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

What’s the worst possible insult you can say to someone in Spain?

The equivalent of English's C-word doesn't have the same shock factor in Spanish. So what's the worst insult that exists in Spain?

What's the worst possible insult you can say to someone in Spain?
Photos: Olya Adamovich/Pixabay, AFP

Profanity is dished out more often than tapas in Spain, by everyone from frail old grandmothers to innocent-looking children in their first communion sailor suits.

Half of the time, passers-by or family members won’t bat an eyelid at someone shouting ¡mierda! or ¡joder! as swear words are by and large more accepted in all kinds of social contexts.

Does that mean you should lace your Castillian with an ample serving of palabrotas (swear words) or tacos (not the edible kind, it’s another word for swear words)?

Not at all, but if you spend enough time among Spaniards you will probably let the odd obscenity slip out, and you may want to know when you’ve crossed the line.

What’s the worst swear word in Spain?

We say Spain rather than Spanish as Latin American nations have their own dictionaries of colourful language which include completely different profanity to that used in the Iberian Peninsula and Spain’s islands.

Castillian Spanish certainly doesn’t have a word which is as shocking as the C-word in English. The crass equivalent used to refer to that part of the female anatomy – coño – is more an expletive which expresses surprise or anger rather than an insult directed at someone.

So is the Spanish version of the F-word the worst swear word there is? Technically it’s joder jodido in its adverbial form (f**king) – and although it may raise a few eyebrows it’s probably not the harshest word in castellano.

The worst Spanish curse word is probably puta – b*tch. This is an expletive that can be used to express anger, or as an adverb that goes in front of another word, for example, puto frío (f**king cold) or puta mierda (f**king sh*t).

What’s the worst insult in Spain?

Puta can also be used as an insult towards women (usually) and is one of the worst insults that you can call someone in Spain. It’s unlikely to go down well.

What about for men, you ask? Well, calling someone a son/daughter of a b*tch (hijo/a de puta) will also go down like a tonne of bricks unless you know the person and it’s said in a joking manner.

Like in other Mediterranean countries, insulting someone’s mother is a big no-no here, but there is one other Spain-specific profanity that is often added to the insult as the icing on the cake.

Me cago en tu puta madre, which sounds absolutely appalling in English as it translates to ‘I crap on your b*tch mother’, is overall perhaps the worst thing you can say to someone in Spain.

In case you’re wondering Spaniards verbally defecate (me cago en) many other things when expressing anger, from the salty sea (la mar salada) to the milk (la leche) but it’s the combination of calling one’s mother a wh*re and adding that extra layer of disrespect that will likely land you in trouble.

In 2019, these exact words got Atlético de Madrid’s hot-headed forward Diego Costa (pictured below) an eight-match ban after directing them at the referee.

The expletive me cago en… can be used to similar damaging effect with tus muertos (your deceased loved ones) and Dios (God), which also happens to be pretty much the most blasphemous phrase that exists in Spanish. 

Are there other insults that are harsh in Spanish?

Que te follen (get f**ked), que te den por culo (get done up the bum) or it’s shorter version que te den (get done, they get the drift of it) are all pretty charged insults in Spain.

Vete a la mierda – which literally translates as ‘go to shit’ – is a common way of telling someone to F-off, which will also be met with disdain.

Gilipollas, which can mean douchebag or d*ckhead, is also best avoided unless the person really deserves it.

The list could go on but we’d rather leave you with a piece of advice: if you really need to call someone out in Spain and it calls for cursing, do it in your own language (you might just get away with it!).

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SPANISH LANGUAGE

¡Me cago en! Seven things Spaniards verbally defecate on 

Barça’s Gerard Piqué stained his farewell match by getting sent off after telling the ref “I crap on your b*tch mother”. As harsh as it may sound, this kind of swearing is far from uncommon in Spain. Here’s what else Spaniards verbally defecate on.

¡Me cago en! Seven things Spaniards verbally defecate on 

Profanities are both routine and widely accepted in most social situations in Spain.  

Whether it’s mierda (shit), coño (c**t) or puta (bitch), pretty much anything goes.

Swear words tend not to carry as much clout as they do in English, so much so that calling someone a clown (payaso) or an imbecile (imbécil) can often cause more offence.

Not everyone in Spain has a potty mouth though, so don’t feel obliged to start hurling palabrotas (swear words) to sound like a local. It also depends on how the obscenity is delivered. 

READ ALSO: How to ‘swear’ politely in Spanish

One of the most colourful habits Spaniards have when it comes to swearing is the expression me cago en… (I shit/crap on…). They use it to express frustration or anger about something, or if it is followed by the possessive adjective tu (your), it’s more likely to be an insult directed at someone.

Although what you choose to verbally defecate on is completely up to you, there are some particularly evocative expressions that Spaniards use very often. 

I crap in the milk – Me cago en la leche

As weird and off-putting as this may sound, Spaniards ‘crap in milk’ a lot. It’s a bit like saying ‘shit’ or ‘damn’ to express disappointment about something.

I crap on the Virgin – Me cago en la Virgen

As you will see in this list, blasphemy and defecation go hand in hand, and as the Virgin Mary is important to Catholic Spain, she often gets brought up. Spaniards also ‘crap’ on the Almighty when saying me cago en Dios.

I crap on the sacramental bread – Me cago en la hostia 

Shouting ¡hostia! (communion wafer!), as in the host that Catholics eat during mass, is part and parcel of the daily lingo in Spain when something surprises or angers you. With that in mind, it’s logical that Spaniards also express their intent to crap on sacramental bread when they get frustrated.  

I crap on your dead relatives – Me cago en tus muertos

Here’s where things start to get personal. Verbally defecating on someone’s ancestors is a way to let them know that you’re very disappointed with them. Again, it all depends on the context, but more often than not it won’t cause too much offence, especially if they deserve it. 

I crap on your molars – Me cago en tus muelas

If you don’t want to mention the person’s deceased family members, you can avoid this by instead crapping on their molar teeth. It’s a euphemism given that muelas (molars) and muertos (dead people) start with the same syllable.

I crap in the salty sea – Me cago en la mar salada

We know what you’re thinking, as if the sea needed any more toxic waste dropping into it. This poetic expression is another euphemism, this time to avoid expressing what Gerard Piqué said about someone’s madre (mother), which could well be considered the worst insult in Spain. 

READ MORE: What’s the worst possible insult in the Spanish language?

I crap on your bitch mother – Me cago en tu puta madre

It’s not a mental image anyone of us wants but bizarrely this is a widely used insult in Spain. People also replace the madre (mother) with padre (father), although they usually drop the puta for that. Remember that this is an offensive expression in most people’s eyes and it could involve an unpleasant reaction. Saying me cago en la puta (I crap on the bitch) is different as it’s not aimed at someone’s mother. 

READ ALSO: ¡Joder! An expert guide to correctly using the F-word in Spanish

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