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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Guerra

As Russia begins its illegal invasion of Ukraine, we look at the Spanish word for war and all its different uses in Spanish. 

spanish word of the day guerra
One small southern Spanish village has changed its name to Ukraine in a show of solidarity. Photo: STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

Guerra, pronounced with the quintessentially strong rolling R and without uttering the U, is the Spanish word for war or warfare. 

It’s actually of Germanic origin – from the old word werra – meaning disorder or fight (bellum is the word in Latin for war).

Examples:

La guerra acaba de empezar.

The war has just started.

Or

Yo no quiero ir a la guerra.

I don’t want to go to war.

Guerra can be used to name an armed conflict but also other situations such guerra de sexos (battle of the sexes), guerra de precios (price war), guerra psicológica (psychological warfare), consejo de guerra (court-martial), banda de guerra (military band).

The expression ‘a war to the death’ is una guerra sin cuartel, a battle cry is un grito de guerra, and if someone describes something as de antes de la guerra (from before the war) it means it’s ancient or outdated.

Interestingly, the word for warlike or relating to war in Spanish is bélico.

Examples:

Ha sido un conflicto bélico muy sangriento.

It’s been a very bloody military conflict.

or

Me gusta mucho el cine bélico.

I really like war films.

There are also some useful expressions with guerra in Spanish, such as dar guerra (to be a handful or cause trouble) or querer guerra (to look for a fight or to be on the prowl).

Examples:

El niño está dando guerra, si no le doy su juguete se pone a llorar.

The boy is being a handful, if I don’t give him his toy he starts crying. 

and

Ese tío quiere guerra. No deja de insultar a la gente.

That guy is looking for trouble. He won’t stop insulting people.

There are more uses of guerra in Spanish but we leave you with a slogan you’ve probably heard before which Spaniards have of course translated: Haz el amor, no la guerra (make love, not war). 

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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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