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Learning Spanish For Members

Spanish word of the day: Yuyu

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Spanish word of the day: Yuyu
If something gives you 'yuyu', it's likely to make your hair stand on end. Photo: Physicsgirl/Pixabay

Today’s Spanish word describes a sensation nobody generally wants to feel. 

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Yuyu is what Brits call the willies and Americans the heebie-jeebies.

When Spaniards want to say that something gives them the creeps, they’ll say me da yuyu.

It’s a widely used way of saying that something freaks you out in Spanish, but yuyu is actually not included in the Spanish Royal Academy’s dictionary (RAE).

It is believed this slang word derives from the word juju, the black magic used in some West African cultures.  

There’s another commonly used word to describe that feeling of your hairs standing on end: dar repelús

However, yuyu is used in particular when talking about something that you fear, be it walking on the edge of a cliff or a particular person, whereas repelús can also be used to speak of something that you find disgusting or uncomfortable.

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So if it’s a particularly high-pitched sound or seeing something that makes you grimace, say me da repelús

But if it’s a haunted house that sends a shiver down your spine, say me da yuyu or me da repelús

Other similar expressions are me da escalofríos (it gives me shivers), me pone los pelos de punta (it makes my hair stand on end) or me pone la piel de gallina (it gives me goosebumps). 

That’s right, in Spanish goosebumps are called chicken skin! 

Oh, and if Spaniards find something cringeworthy, they say me da grima

 

Examples:

Uy uy, que yuyu me da ese tío. Tiene la mirada de loco. 

Oh oh, that guy gives me the creeps. He has crazy eyes.

 

El Caminito del Rey me da bastante yuyu. Es que tengo vértigo. 

The Caminito del Rey walk gives me the willies quite a bit. I’m scared of heights, you see.

 

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