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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Incendio’

You’re probably familiar with this word but do you know how it’s different from ‘fuego’ (the Spanish word for fire)?

spanish word of the day incendio
To refer to a forest fire or wildfire in Spanish, you should say 'un incendio forestal'. Photo: THIBAUD MORITZ / AFP

The word fuego is probably one of the first words that Spanish language learners learn. 

It’s the most general word to refer to fire, as in the product of combustion.

It can be used when asking someone for a lighter (¿tienes fuego?), or the fire that burns on a bonfire or a campfire (el fuego de la hoguera), the flames of a fire (las llamas del fuego) and even in the sense of gunshots when someone shouts ‘hold your fire! (¡Alto el fuego!).

And it’s also the first word people will exclaim if a fire breaks out – ¡Fuego! (Fire!).

But when a fire is out of control, Spanish speakers rarely use the word fuego to describe this conflagration (yes, that’s a formal way of referring to an extensive fire in English). 

Instead they will call it un incendio (a fire) or el incendio (the fire). If it’s a wildfire or forest fire, they call it un incendio forestal.

That’s not to say you can’t use el fuego to refer to the fire in the general sense, but technically speaking if it’s a fire that’s broken out in a building or a forest fire that’s raging you should use the word incendio.  

There’s also the verb incendiar, to burn down or set fire to, in the active sense of someone choosing to burn something which sees the flames spread. You can also say prender fuego.

Or in the passive sense, as in a forest catching fire, incendiarse.

An example of the word ‘incendio’ in the Spanish press, with the headline reading “Spain’s fires leave two dead and more than 30,000 hectares destroyed”.

Examples:

Un incendio forestal en Barcelona ha arrasado miles de hectáreas de bosque.

A wildfire in Barcelona has destroyed thousands of hectares of forest. 

Los bomberos intentaron apagar el fuego en un edificio de la Gran Vía pero al final el incendio se cobró tres vidas.

The firefighters tried to extinguish a fire in a building on Gran Vía but in the end the blaze claimed three lives. 

Es un pirómano, ha incendiado un hermoso bosque porque le gusta ver cómo las cosas arden. 

He’s a pyromaniac, he set fire to a beautiful forest because he likes to see things burn.

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘Hacer su agosto’

Here’s what ‘doing the August’ means in Spanish and why it applies so well to what is happening currently in Spain. 

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘Hacer su agosto’

Hacer el agosto or hacer su agosto is a Spanish expression which is used to refer to a period of time during which someone makes a lot of money without much effort and/or without scruples. 

In the literal sense, it means to ‘do the August’ or ‘do one’s August’, but it can be best translated into English as making a killing or feathering your nest. 

August is the peak of the high season and typically the month when hotels, airlines and business owners that form part of the Spanish tourism industry put up their prices considerably.

So you’d be forgiven for believing that this expression came about from the fact that money-hungry businessmen and companies shamelessly cash in to capitalise on high demand during the month most Spaniards take off for their summer holidays.

But the truth is that this saying has been around for centuries before tourists headed on masse to the Spanish coast in August.

The expression hacer el agosto actually refers to the period when Spaniards would collect their harvest and store it, with August traditionally being the busiest month for this, and therefore when peasants and landowners would have the biggest yield or make the biggest profit.

Nowadays, the saying is used mainly to refer to financial profit, and it doesn’t necessarily have to happen during August for the expression to apply, it can be at any point when someone is making a killing.

So the next time you want to say in Spanish that someone is raking it in or making a pile of money, don’t forget to use this expression, as Spaniards will be impressed. 

Examples: 

Los bares y restaurantes de Pamplona hacen su agosto durante las fiestas de San Fermín

Pamplona’s bars and restaurants make a killing during the San Fermín festival.

Elena está haciendo el agosto alquilando el piso de sus padres en Marbella a turistas ricos.

Elena is feathering her nest by renting out her parents’ flat in Marbella to rich tourists.

Siempre pasa lo mismo en verano, suben un montón los precios porque los empresarios quieren hacer su agosto.

The same thing always happens in summer, prices go up a lot because business owners want to make a killing. 

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