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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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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

This adjective is essential slang talk in Spain, a word with lots of meanings, all of them fairly negative.

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

Chungo is a colloquial way of saying that something is difficult, dodgy or bad. 

It can be used to describe a variety of scenarios and it’s a great way of talking like a native Spanish speaker. 

You can talk about the weather being chungo if there are ominous black clouds up ahead.

If you’re stepping into a dodgy neighbourhood, then watch out because it’s un barrio chungo

If you bought a hairdryer at the rastro (flea market) and it doesn’t work properly, then it’s clearly chungo, and the seller is just as chungo.

Maybe you’ve just sat an exam with complicated questions, you’d call it un examen chungo.

Or if you don’t feel very well, then you’re the one that is chungo

There’s even an expression to say that things aren’t looking good – la cosa está chunga.

All in all, chungo is a very versatile adjective that you can incorporate into most daily speech even though it’s colloquial. 

Here are some examples to help you get used to using chungo.

Example:

Está el tiempo un poco chungo, mejor no vamos a la playa.

The weather isn’t very good today, it’s best if we don’t go to the beach. 

Example:

¡Ojo! Es un tío bastante chungo así que no te fíes de él.

Be careful! He’s a pretty dodgy guy so don’t trust him. 

Example:

Le has comprado un perfume muy chungo a mamá por el Día de la Madre.

You’ve bought Mum a really crappy perfume for Mother’s Day.

Example:

El barrio de El Príncipe en Ceuta es muy chungo, ¡ten cuidado!

El Príncipe neighbourhood in Ceuta is very dodgy, be careful!

 

Example:

Me encuentro un poco chungo, con mareos y nauseas. 

I’m feeling a bit bad, I’m dizzy and nauseous. 

Example:

¿Dama de honor cuando el novio es tu ex? ¡Qué situación más chunga!

Maid of honour when the groom is your ex? ¡That’s an uncomfortable situation!

Example:

¡La cosa está chunga! El Barça tiene que marcar cinco goles para clasificarse.

Things aren’t looking good. Barça have to score five goals to qualify.

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