Spanish profanity

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The overwriting text in blue says "putos", an insult meaning "faggots / poofs" (graffiti on a wall in Montevideo, Uruguay).

The Spanish language employs a wide range of swear words that vary between Spanish speaking nations, and in regions and subcultures of each nation.


As in most languages swear words tend to come from semantic domains considered taboo such as the domains of human excretions, sexuality, and religion.[1] As in most languages, in Spanish swearing serves several functions in discourse, as emphatic interjections expressing emotion, as expressions of interpersonal stances such as aggression or as expression of gender identity, and as forms of linguistic play.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Spanish insults are often of a sexual nature, taking the form of implying a lack of sexual decency if the insulted person is a woman (e.g. puta, "whore", "zorra" "bitch") or implying a lack of masculinity if the insulted person is male (e.g. maricón "faggot", puto "male prostitute").[8] A particularly forceful Spanish insult is any mention of someone else's mother, including also in its strongest form (e.g. ¡me cago en tu puta madre! "fuck your whore of a mother!").[9][10][11][12][13]

Emphatic exclamations, not aimed to insult but to express strong emotion, often include words for sexual relations (e.g. ¡joder! "fuck!", ¡chingados! "fuckers!") or to excretions or sexual organs (¡mierda! "shit!", ¡coño! "pussy!"). Sexual taboo words that describe a masculine sexuality may be used in a positive sense (e.g. cabrón "male goat", gallo "rooster", cerdo "pig").[8]


"¡Chinga tu madre, cabrón!" in C major. About this soundPlay .

The official definition of this word in Spanish is "an adult male goat".

The modern Spanish version has different connotations depending on the place or situation, but is commonly accepted as the Spanish equivalent for the English profanity "bastard" or "motherfucker". It also means "cheater", (e.g "Este hombre es un cabrón") "This man is a cheater".

The seven-note musical flourish known as a shave and a haircut (two bits), commonly played on car horns, is associated in Mexico with the seven-syllable phrase ¡Chinga tu madre, cabrón! ("Fuck your mother, asshole!"). Playing the jingle on a car horn can result in a hefty fine for traffic violation if done in the presence of police, or road rage if aimed at another driver or a pedestrian.[14]


The term "cojón" is a vulgar name referring to the male's testicles. It is mostly used in Spain, however.

Also it has several vulgar meanings in the modern Spanish language: including an intensifier to difficulty, worth, courage, surpise, threat, annoyance, fear, perfection, success, quantity, voluntary action, limit, coldness, funniness and admiration.

Derivative of "cojón" English equivalent
Un cojón cost a fortune
Mil pares de cojones very difficult
Tener cojones To be brave
Cortarle los cojones To threaten
Tocarle los cojones a To annoy somebody
(a)cojonado scared
Descojonarse de la risa To piss oneself laughing
Acojonante Very funny / scary
¡Tócate los cojones! What a surprise!
Cojonudo,-a Perfection
De cojones Perfectly
Por cojones ...with no other choice
Hasta los cojones Up to the brink
Los cojones morados Cold as hell


Pendejo (according to the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española, lit. "a pubic hair'[15]) according to the Chicano poet José Antonio Burciaga, "basically describes someone who is stupid or does something stupid".[15] Burciaga said that the word is often used while not in polite conversation.[15] Pendejo is equivalent to the English expression dumb-ass, which literally means, "as dumb as a donkey".

Burciaga said that pendejo "is probably the least offensive" of the various Spanish profanity words beginning in "p", but that calling someone a pendejo is "stronger" than calling someone estúpido.[15] Burciaga said "Among friends it can be taken lightly, but for others it is better to be angry enough to back it up."[15] In Mexico, "pendejo" most commonly refers to a "fool", "idiot" or "asshole". In Mexico there are many proverbs that refer to pendejos.[15] However, pendejo has different meanings depending on the country. For example, whilst in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile it means "a boy" or "a teenager that presumes to be an adult" , in Peru and Bolivia it means "a rogue, smart man". Even more, in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Panama, it means "a cowardly man".


Pinche has different meanings:

In Spain, where Castilian Spanish is the national language, the word may refer to a sous chef.[3] However, its main and usual definition is that of a restaurant chef assistant or a kitchen helper who helps prepare the ingredients, assists in cooking the food and cleans the utensils. Some restaurants in Spain have the name "El Pinche", to the great amusement of Mexican and Chicano tourists.[3]

In Mexico, the word can be inappropriate or offensive depending on tone and context. Furthermore, it is often used as an expletive attributive (much like the English terms "damn", "fucking", or British English "bloody"), as in estos pinches aguacates están podridos… ("These damn avocados are rotten…"); Pinche Mario ya no ha venido… ("Fucking Mario hasn't come yet"); or ¿¡Quieres callarte la pinche boca!? ("Would you shut your bloody mouth!?"). Another meaning is used as an insult, as in pinche güey ("loser"), or to describe an object of poor quality, Está muy pinche ("It really sucks").[citation needed] Therefore, it can be said in front of adults, but possibly not children, depending on one's moral compass. Sometimes pinchudo(a) is said instead.[citation needed] It refers to a mean-spirited person.[3]

In El Salvador, the term means "tiny" or "very little" and it is not necessarily considered vulgar.

In Nicaragua, the term means "stingy" or "cheapskate" and it is not vulgar.


The word puta (uniform in all Hispanic nations), similar to the Portuguese possibly derives from the Latin putus meaning boy and puta, girl, or from putida, meaning stinky. It has roughly the same meaning as English whore, but in some regions is considered very offensive when specifically directed at a woman. It can also translate as "bitch". The male version, puto can be used to refer to a male whore, but in Mexico and Argentina it is a derogatory term for a homosexual man i.e. "gay whore".

It is, however, considered less offensive when used as an adjective, in which case it is equal to the English "fucking," similar to the Mexican word pinche; for example, dame las putas llaves ("give me the fucking keys") or es un puto idiota (he's a fucking idiot).

In addition, the phrase, hijo de puta, literally meaning "son of a whore", (which translates to "son of a bitch" in English) can often mean "motherfucker".


The verb joder/joderse means "to fuck," and follows the same rules as its English equivalent: "to fuck somebody" e.g. anoche, Juan y su novia jodieron ("last night Juan and his girlfriend fucked"), no me jodas (don't annoy/bother me), or lo has jodido (you've fucked it up). It can be used as an adjective, like the English "fucking" (jodido) and is often used as a light interjection: ¡Joder! Olvidé mi abrigo ("Fuck! I've forgotten my coat").

Alternative ways demonstrating the meaning in the first context are: follar , echar un polvo, (Spain), cogerse (Argentina), chimar, pisar (Central America), culear (Chile and Colombia) and cachar (Peru).


This word has many meanings in the Spanish language, all limited to Mexico:

  1. Adjective [16] for damage (e.g. "Este niño se subio a la bicicleta y ahora su rodilla esta chingada" - "This kid rode his bike and now his knee is damaged")
  2. Noun [16] for a bad place to go (e.g. "¡Ya me tienes harto! ¡Vete a la chingada!" - "I'm done with you! Go fuck yourself!/Go to hell!")
  3. Interjection [16] (e.g. "¿Se sacó todas bien el tonto? ¡Ah, chingado!" - "Did the dumb guy get all the questions right? Holy shit!")
  4. Adjective [16] for awful (e.g. "Este restaurante esta de la chingada" - "This restaurant is very, very, very awful/bad.)

You'll often hear these words in the following contexts:

  1. "¡Hijo de la chingada!" (idiom, adjective)= Son of a bitch!
  2. "¡Chingada madre!" (interjection) = Shit! or Fuck!
  3. "¡Vete a la chingada!" (noun) = Go fuck yourself! or Go to hell!


  • Carajo a noun originally meaning "cock", but it unanimously means "shit" in the figurative sense and as an expression. e.g. me importa un carajo lo que digan ("I don't give a shit about what they said") and ¡Vamos Argentina, carajo! ("Go Argentina, shit!")
  • Coño, equivalent to "pussy" but bears less profanity. It is often used to express surprise or exclamation such as ¿qué coño dijiste? ("what the fuck did you say?"). The word concha or "shell" is often heard in Latin America meaning "pussy" and sometimes in the diminutive, conchita refers to "lil' pussy", while in Peru and Chile "chucha" is also used (¿Qué chucha hiciste?, "what the fuck did you do?").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Espinosa, M. "Algo sobre la historia de las palabrotas." Razón y palabra. Primera revista digital en Iberoamérica especializada en comunicología 23 (2001).
  2. ^ de Marlangeon, Silvia Beatriz Kaul, and Laura Alba Juez. "A typology of verbal impoliteness behaviour for the English and Spanish cultures." Revista española de lingüística aplicada 25 (2012): 69-92.
  3. ^ a b c d Gladstein and Chacón (editors) 39.
  4. ^ Martínez, R. A., & Morales, P. Z. (2014). ¿ Puras Groserías?: Rethinking the Role of Profanity and Graphic Humor in Latin@ Students' Bilingual Wordplay. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 45(4), 337-354.
  5. ^ Durán, Marco Antonio Pérez, and Oscar Arriaga Olguín. "Inventario fraseológico de las groserías en estudiantes de San Luis Potosí." Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas 9.1 (2014): 79-87.
  6. ^ Sacher, Jason, and Toby Triumph. How to Swear Around the World. Chronicle Books, 2012.
  7. ^ Mateo, J., & Yus, F. (2013). Towards a cross-cultural pragmatic taxonomy of insults. Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 1(1), 87-114.
  8. ^ a b Grimes, L. M. (1978). El tabú lingüístico en México: el lenguaje erótico de los mexicanos. Bilingual Review Pr.
  9. ^ Bakewell, Liza. Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun. WW Norton & Company, 2010.
  10. ^ Ilarregui, G. M. (1997). Is the Spanish language sexist? An Investigation of Grammatical Gender. Es sexista la lengua espanola?. Una investigacion sobre el genero gramatical. Women and Language, 20(2), 64-66.
  11. ^ González Zúñiga, J., & Hernández Arias, L. (2015). Análisis semántico y sintáctico de las frases idiomáticas compuestas con las palabras" padre" y" madre" en el español de México (Doctoral dissertation).
  12. ^ Gregersen, E. A. (1979). Sexual linguistics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 327(1), 3-18.
  13. ^ Santaemilia, J., 2008. Gender, sex, and language in Valencia: attitudes toward sex-related language among Spanish and Catalan speakers. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2008(190), pp.5-26.
  14. ^ Gerrard, Arthur Bryson, ed. (1980). Cassell's Colloquial Spanish (3rd revised ed.). London: Cassell Ltd. ISBN 978-0-02-079430-1.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Gladstein and Chacón (editors) 40.
  16. ^ a b c d "chingado, da". Real Academia Española. Retrieved 13 August 2018.


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