In case the title doesn’t make it clear enough already, let me spell it out for you: This post is not safe for work! There, you’ve been warned. Now if your boss catches you reading this while you ought to be working on that pre-lunch deck and gives you a “we need to talk,” the blame is squarely on you. Alright, now that the little disclaimer is in place, let’s move on to the juicier bits you came here for.
You could be a Buddha reincarnate and swearing might come as naturally to you as binging on bananas would to mountain lions. Having said that, it’s still a temptation hard to resist. Swear words are as old as language itself and even if you don’t use any, you’ll do well to learn them. I can think of at least three strong reasons for this. First, it helps you make sense of what’s going on should you ever happen to be at the receiving end. Just because you don’t curse doesn’t mean others won’t too. Second, bad words are still words, a very natural part of a very natural language no matter how stigmatized. And anything that’s part of a language can only help you understand better how the language works. The last but no less significant reason I can think of is that learning them is motivating! Most of you would agree that being able to curse in a foreign language is the quickest way to feel confident in that language and stay in the game a little longer than otherwise. This is the reason why this is the vocabulary most language learners look to master first. At least that’s how it went down in my case.
First Let’s Translate Profanity Itself
This should come as the logical first step, wouldn’t you agree? Even before we start rolling in the mud with all those handpicked Spanish profanities, it only makes sense to first learn the Spanish for the word profanity itself. And here’s the interesting thing about Spanish: No two countries do things the same way! So while one country uses one translation for a word, another would use something entirely different, and so on. This is the case with the word in question too. So without much preamble, here’s a far-from-complete list of all the Spanish translations of profanity or cusswords in various Spanish-speaking countries around the world:
- bardeos (Argentina)
- garabatos (Chile)
- groserias, majaderías, or maldiciones (Mexico)
- desvergüenza (El Salvador; better translated as a shameless remark)
- palabras sucias (Panama)
- plebedades (the Colombian Caribbean)
- puteadas (Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay)
- lisuras (Peru; refers more to rude or cheeky remarks)
- tacos (Spain)
How’s that for variety? Looks like the best place to be foul-mouth could be Mexico going by the number of different names it has for profanity. Just kidding, they’re good people and you should not be foul-mouthed anywhere regardless of the country. More generic terms also exist for this class of words and expressions; two that come to mind are palabras guarras and maldiciones. Foul language in general is el lenguaje soez (the low language) while the act of swearing is jurar.
And Now Let the Swearing Begin!
This is your last chance to turn around because what follows is the absolute filth. The temptation to roll in the dirt is strong, I totally get it. But if you really don’t have the appetite for the sailor’s tongue, don’t go any further. The least you must do, should you choose to continue, is make sure there’s no kids around you – don’t wanna corrupt their bratty minds, do you?
Expressions of profanity, just like any other, are generally not translatable between languages word-for-word. This is the organic nature of languages and one can do nothing about it. This is the reason the list below does not offer a literal translation; instead, it shows the vague sense an expression conveys. Also, the degree of offense any given expression can cause would vary largely and depend on the context and person, among other things. Having said that, you should still have a fair understanding of how most insults work by the time you finish reading. Alright, now if you’re ready, let’s dive right in.
Espressions Involving Fornication
- ¡Joder! (Fuck!): This verb means to fuck or to screw, both figuratively and literally. When used by itself and without any conjugation as an interjection, it expresses everything from extreme shock or surprise to extreme frustration.
- ¡Hostia! (Fuck!): More common in Spain than elsewhere, hostia does not exactly translate into fuck but is used the same way you would use fuck in English as an interjection. Another equivalent would be when you use Jesus or dammit as an interjection.
- ¡Jódete! or ¡Qué te jodan! (Fuck off/you/yourself!): This is yet another creative way to use joder, especially when your anger is directed at someone in particular. Just as in English, this expression could even be used in a lighter mood among friends but you should know better than to push your luck.
- ¡No me jodas! (Don’t fuck with me!): This one has a very straightforward grammar so long as you’re already acquainted with the Spanish present indicative conjugation.
- cabrón (motherfucker): Cabrón is undisputedly one of the most recognizable of Latin American swear words to the non-Hispanic world thanks to it being done to death in so many movies and TV shows. The word is a catch-all for everything from something as benign as idiot to something as downright vulgar as bastard, motherfucker, or asshole. Context can wildly sway its implied meaning.
- pinche (fucking): Pinche in this sense is often used in combination with a noun. The more innocent translation of this word is kitchen assistant. However, it’s rarely used to mean that nowadays. Often paired with pendejo as pinche pendejo (fucking idiot), this is extremely common in the streets of Mexico. In the rest of Central America, pinche also means miserly or cheap.
The Crass Ass
- cara de culo (ass-face): Yes, this is actually a thing! Wouldn’t it be fun to call someone that? Spanish is mighty creative that way. The phrase is super-simple and yet so powerful. Cara is Spanish for face and culo is the rear. No rocket science there.
- capullo (asshole, jerk): This one also belongs in Spain more than anyplace else. Depending on the mood of the person using it, the word can also mean daft, imbecile, cheeky, or simply annoying. When not used as an insult, capullo is Spanish for a flower bud. Really? Flower bud and asshole? What’s the connection!
- forro (asshole): This is one rich word in South America. The usage as an insult is only confined to Argentina; however, it has a whole range of other meanings, both slang and standard, elsewhere. In some contexts, it means talent, in others fraud or swindle. Fraud does call for skills, after all. Forro also happens to be slang for rubber and, consequentially, condom.
- ¡Métetelo por el culo! (Stick it up your ass!): Meter is Spanish for insert. When conjugated for the familiar second-person imperative, it becomes mete. And you’ve already met culo before so the expression should be easy to follow.
- ¡Tonto del culo! (Such an ass!): Since you’re already familiar with culo now, this one shouldn’t be hard to comprehend.
Penis – the Mother Ship of All Vulgarity
- bicho (cock): Don’t get this one wrong, bicho can also be used as a perfectly innocent slang for a child in almost all of Central America. But given the right context, you can turn it into a solid weapon of vulgarity. The offensive usage, though, is primarily confined to Mexico and Puerto Rico.
- huevo (penis): Huevo is Spanish for egg which easily explains its alternative usage in less-than-polite settings. In Mexico, the word can also be used as an interjection when one wants you to fuck off. In the rest of Latin America, though, huevo has a slightly milder connotation as it’s slang for an imbecile, coward, loafer, or just an idiot.
- ¡Chúpame la pija! (suck my cock!): Pija is yet another slang for the male genitalia and chupar means to suck. You could easily replace chupame in this expression with mámame and the insult would stay intact because mamar is almost synonymous with chupar. For more variety, you could also try verga , yet another slang for penis, for pija.
- mamahuevo (cocksucker): Be sure you’re not around your subject when you call them this. Mamar and huevo join hands effortlessly to give us one of the most vicious insults one could hurl at anyone. In places like Mexico and Puerto Rico you could also try mamabicho.
- ¡No seas gilipollas! (Don’t be a dick!): Gilipollas is a very colorful piece of vulgarity from Spain. Depending on the situation it could mean jerk, asshole, and everything in between. Ser means to be. Although this sounds like a wise enough advice, I would strongly urge you to refrain from offering it to anyone you’re not super-close to.
- pendejo (dickhead): This one is most often paired with pinche and is used in a wide variety of contexts. Its connotation ranges from jovial to extremely rude depending on your tone. In the Southern Cone, pendejo is also a not-very-sophisticated word for kids. On the other hand, in Mexico, it could either mean idiot or coward depending on the conversation. To the rest of Latin America, pendejo also refers to pubic hair.
- cabrón (jerk): This is another staple of Latin American vocabulary of insults. The word translates into wanker, jerk, pimp, son of a bitch, bastard, cuckold, and heaven knows what else – a truly prolific word, isn’t it? Just slap an “-a” to it and you can use it for a girl too. After all, why should boys have all the fun? Sometimes it can even mean something as innocent as buddy or tough.
- pajero (jerk): Speaking of jerks, pajero is another option for you should you ever feel the need to replenish your vocabulary of insults. In Central America, pajero could also refer to a plumber or a liar but that doesn’t sound much fun, now, does it?
- marica (gay): While we’re still on about the male genitalia, it only makes sense to toss in a couple of slurs for male homosexuals as well. Marica, when used in jest among friends, can mean something as unoffensive as buddy or dude. But give it the right tone and you have a massively offensive slur for the gay community.
- joto (gay): This one mainly enjoys currency in Mexico and can be applied not only to gays but also any effeminate person. It’s like calling someone pansy.
How to Be a Foul-Mouthed Misogynist
- piruja (hooker): This is yet another incredibly insulting term for a woman. Not sure which country it enjoys the heaviest usage in but the word is pretty vulgar, so tread with caution.
- puta (whore): Puta must be the single most commonly used word for prostitute in all of Latin America. You could pair it with madre and you have puta madre (son of a bitch), yet another super-common expression heard all the time in every connotation from jovial to extremely disparaging.
- zorra (slut): Originally Spanish for a female fox, this word is commonly used in Spain to refer to a not-so-chaste woman. Zorra also refers to the female genitalia in Chile.
Heaven and Hell
- ¡Coño! (Damn!): This word literally refers to a vagina. However, when used as an interjection, it’s the equivalent of fuck or dammit. In Venezuela, however, it translates into jerk or idiot. But the funnest usage comes from Chile where coño refers to a Spaniard!
- ¡La madre que me/te/los parió! (For goodness sake!): Literally, the expression translates into “The mother who gave birth to me/you/them,” but that’s obviously not the meaning implied when it’s used.
- ¡Vete al infierno! (Go to hell!): Infierno already sounds like Hell’s raging inferno so this one should be quite a cakewalk. A more popular alternative is with mierda (shit) instead of infierno.
As Despicable as Poop
- ¡Come mierda y muere! (Eat shit and die!): This one is very commonly heard everyplace in Latin America and Mexico. Comer means to eat, mierda means shit, and morir means to die. Put them all together and you’ve got yourself a mighty hard-hitting insult. Speaking of mierda, it can also be used as a standalone interjection just as you would use shit in English.
- ¡Me cago en todo lo que se menea! (I shit on everything that moves!): A mighty awkward expression if you ask me but this one is more common than it seems. The keyword here is cagar which means to shit.
- ¡Me cago en la hostia! (Fucking hell!): Of course this isn’t a literal translation but this is what it implies. Don’t ask me how else “I poop in the host” makes any sense whatsoever.
This should be enough R-rated Spanish for one day. Hope you are feeling as disgusted reading it as i did writing. Got any fun expression I missed out here? Please do share in the comments below.