Spanish Nicknames and Insults to Speak like a Native Speaker

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Spanish is the second language with the most native speakers in the world, you can hear it in movies, programs and songs you probably know, so words or expressions like “fiesta”, “Feliz Navidad!”, “Una cerveza, por favor”… won’t be new for you. However, whether you learn Spanish in a school, on your own, or with an app, you will probably face the same problem: colloquial and vulgar expressions in Spanish.

The Spanish language has a wide variety of nicknames, insults, pet names, etc. for all kinds of situations. Do you want to speak like a true native? Do you want to understand what the characters in your favorite Hispanic show say? Then it’s time to expand your vocabulary with this post.

Nicknames in Spanish

If you are from a city or have never lived in a town in Spain, you probably don’t know how important nicknames are in the daily life of a Spaniard. But, wait a minute… What exactly is a nickname? Well, in Spanish we say that a nickname is an alternative name given to someone, which is often offensive because it’s based on some defect or some embarrassing story about that person.

In many places, especially in small towns and places with few inhabitants, people are mainly known by their nicknames rather than by their real names. Usually, nicknames are inherited, which means that if your grandfather was Manolo el Vinagre (because he liked to drink too much), your father will be Pedro el Vinagre and you will be la Vinagre or Vinagre’s granddaughter.

Nicknames can also come from a person’s profession or origin. Juana la Molinera may not necessarily be a miller, but the daughter, wife, or granddaughter of someone who did have that profession. If your family is from a different place than the rest of your neighbors, don’t be surprised if your nationality becomes your nickname.

There are many Hispanic artists and celebrities who have a nickname that they have used as a stage name or part of their identity. Some examples are:

Did you know that throughout history many historical figures are remembered by their nicknames as much or more than by their real names? Here are some examples:

Hypocoristics in Spanish

Chances are you’ve never heard this very rare word, many natives don’t know it either, but it’s very simple. Hypocoristics are short versions of a name that you use with your family, friends, or in any situation. Within these names, we can differentiate two types: abbreviated versions of the names and different versions of the original name. Below you have two charts with the most common ones:

Hypocoristics: versions Hypocoristics: abbreviations

José / Josefa → Pepe / Pepa

Juan José → Juanjo

José María → Chema

María → Mari

Jesús → Suso / Chús

Fernando → Fer / Nando

Dolores → Lola / Loli

Pilar → Pili / Piluca

Manuel → Manolo / Lolo

Isabel → Isa

Enrique → Quique / Kike

Teresa → Tere

Francisco → Paco / Pancho / Kiko

Francisco → Francis / Fran

Concepción → Concha / Conchi

María Teresa → Maite

Rosario → Charo

Daniel / Daniela → Dani

María Jesús → Susi

Susana → Susi

Eduardo → Lalo

Eduardo → Edu

Alfonso → Poncho

Alfonso → Fonso / Fonsi

Santiago → Chano / Tiago

Antonio / Antonia → Toni / Toño(a)

Candelaria → Yaya

Agustín → Agus / Tino

Keep in mind that in Spanish you always have the option of adding -ito(a), -illo(a), -ico(a) to transform a noun into a more affectionate version. This is called diminutivo.


All options are correct, but some are more frequent than others depending on the region.

Check out our blogpost about Abbreviations in Spanish, which was prepared for you by our Spanish teachers.

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Pet Names in Spanish

Pet names are those words we use to call the people we love: partner, family, friends… The list of adjectives and expressions to do so in Spanish is endless, but here we have compiled some of the most frequent among couples and families.

Apelativos cariñosos Pet names

cari / cariño / cariño mío

honey / sweetheart / dear

cielo / mi cielo

darling / (literally (my) heaven)

amor / mi amor

love / my love

flor / mi flor

literally (my) flower



mi vida / vida mía

my life

mi rey / mi reina

my king / queen


cutie pie


Remember that, in general, Spanish speakers are quite friendly and affectionate. So don’t be surprised if a waitress or a sales clerk asks you: “What do you want, honey?

When you’re among friends we also have different words you can use in informal contexts. Here are some of the most frequent ones in general Spanish and in American Spanish:

Español de España Spanish in Spain




dude, friend






brother / sister



mi niño(a) (en Canarias)

my child

chacho(a) (en Canarias)


Español de América American Spanish




dude, friend


friend, buddy


friend, buddy



Check out our detailed blogpost about Love Phrases in Spanish, which was prepared for you by our Spanish teachers.

love phrases in spanish
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Insults in Spanish

Let’s be honest, even if you don’t use this kind of language in your native language, the first thing many foreigners want to learn in Spanish is to curse or insult. Why? Because it’s fun. In Spanish, we call tacos, groserías or palabrotas these kinds of offensive words that we use when we want to insult someone, be more expressive, or, in some cases, just call a friend. Here is a list of some of the most used ones.

Insult in Spanish Example

pendejo(a) - tonto(a), cobarde - dumb, coward


¿Otra vez le has prestado 50€ al vecino? ¡Qué pendejo eres!

gilipollas - tonto(a), prepotente - asshole

El nuevo profesor nunca saluda. Es un poco gilipollas, ¿verdad?

cabrón(a) - mala persona - bastard

¡Qué cabrona! Me había dicho que la reunión empezaba a las 09:00 y empezó a las 8:30.

hijo(a) de puta - mala persona - son of a bitch

El jefe puso la reunión el viernes por la tarde. ¡Es un hijo de puta!

capullo(a) - mala persona - dick

Es un capullo. Me dejó el día de mi cumpleaños y delante de toda mi familia.

boludo(a) (Argentina) - tonto(a), estúpido(a) - dumb, stupid

¡No seas boluda y toma el tren! El taxi es demasiado caro.

pelotudo(a) (Argentina) - tonto(a), estúpido(a) - dumb, stupid

Se cree que es muy inteligente, pero es una pelotuda.

tolete(a) (Canarias, Colombia y Cuba) - tonto(a), estúpido(a) - dumb, stupid


Martina es un poco toleta. No piensa mucho las cosas.

mamagüevo(a) (R.Dominicana y Venezuela) - tonto(a), estúpido(a) - dumb, stupid


Hay que ser un poco mamagüevo para dejar que te engañen tres veces con el mismo truco.

niñato(a) - infantil, inmaduro(a) - childish, brat

Tiene 38 años, pero es un niñato.

huevón(a) - vago(a), imbécil - lazy, stupid

¿Por qué le has dejado tu coche a Matías? ¡Eres un huevón!

pinche (México) - ruin - mean

¡Qué pinche! No le hables así a tu abuela.


Always remember before using them that the context is really important, it is not the same to be with friends at a party than with your Spanish colleagues at a work meeting.

Check out our detailed blogpost about Swearing in Spanish!

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If you’re interested in more examples about insults in Spain and Colombia watch the video below.

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