If you’re like most Spanish language learners, one of the first things you’re probably interested in is Spanish swear words. Well I have great new – the “bad words” in Spanish are both plentiful and wonderfully expressive.
Spanish curse words are more socially acceptable than in English, and phrases that would make English speakers blush, variations of “Me cago en la madre que te parió!” (I shit on the mother who gave birth to you), is about as common as the English catch-all “fuck”
One of the most interesting things I’ve found about studying other languages is how colorful the cursing is compared to English. And while there may be some puritans out there rallying against “bad words” – the simple fact of the matter is that curse words and phrases are an integral part of a living language and culture.
However, since this is rarely the sort of thing covered in your average Spanish grammar textbook, we’ll take a look at it here, in the complete guide to swearing like a Spaniard:
Please note that these phrases are taken from the Spanish of Spain. Many of these tranfer to the Spanish of the Americas, but you might want to double check before breaking out your go-to phrase.
A combination of the ubiquitous “me cago en…” (“I shit upon…”) and Spain’s most sacred figure, the mother, or madre – this phrase is used similarly to the English “fuck you.” Only it’s way more badass.
Me cago en Dios – I shit on God.
Me cago en la leche – I shit in the milk. (Used like the English “Holy shit!”)
Me cago en todos los santos – I shit upon all the saints!
Me cago en tus muertos – I shit on your dead relatives.
Me cago en todo lo que se menea! – I shit on everything that moves!
Basically, combining “Me cago en” and Catholic imagery = Spanish swearing gold.
Another building block for other swears. By itself it’s very tame. As you’ll see, “shit” is a very common theme in Spanish curses.
This literally means ‘shit’, and is the most lightweight of all these swear words. It makes a perfect combination with many words to give a better impact, such as ‘Come mierda! (A shit-eater!)’.
Pronounced “ho-DErr”. Used similaly to the English “fuck”, but way more common. In English when we say anything like “damn, I forgot my phone”, or “Shit! The door’s locked” we could use “joder” in Spanish.
Useful Variant: Que te jodan! – Fuck you!
Pronounced “hi-li-PO-yas.” Used as a retort when someone insults or annoys you.
Hard to translate perfectly to English, cabron literally means “goat”. This is a light remark that can be used almost anywhere. Bob ate the last slice of cake, que cabron.
Literally meaning “fucking mother”, puta madre can be used as a swear/insult or positively. It’s often used in the same way we would use “fuck yeah” in English to express our delight in something. “Barcelona beat Real Madrid – puta madre!” Note that all the Real fans could then call you a puta madre in response.
This example highlights just how different cursing can be outside the English language. To me, this phrase borders on incomprehensible, but in Spanish it’s a nice insult. “Screw you” doesn’t really stack up.
This curse word is so useful the Spanish have an expression to describe its usefulness! “Cojones sirve para todo,” or “cojones are useful everywhere”. Literally means “testicles” but most often used like “bullshit”.
Estoy hasta los cojones – I can’t take it anymore, I’m up to my (eye) balls.
Tienes cojones – You’ve got balls.
Me toca los cojones – That’s annoying
Pronounced “yi-ho”. Used similarly to English, can be positive or negative, just way more common in Spanish.
The Spanish use this word the way Brits/Aussies drop the English C-bomb. North Americans (and yours truly) will have a tough time adjusting to its prevelance.
This one is just hilarious. Hard to define exactly where it’s most useful, but it seems to be useful to express exasperation, shock, and awe.
Literally, “the mother who gave birth to you!” But used like “mother fucker” in English with shocking frequency.
When you’re done learning Spanish swear words, head on back to the Language Hacking Guides page and find another lesson!