Swearing in Spanish

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In this post, you will find:

Why Should You Learn Spanish Curse Words?

Don’t be surprised if you hear “joder“, “mierda“, “tu madre“… while walking the streets in Spain or Latin America. The Spanish language is rich with curse words or “palabrotas,” which are excellent to spice up your vocabulary. By learning them, you’ll be able to express yourself in a more interesting and colorful way.

Although you probably won’t learn these bad Spanish words at school, you can’t call yourself fluent until you can utter these with confidence. They are perfect to help you speak like a native. But watch out: they are not suitable for every situation!

When to Use Spanish Curse Words?

There are lots of situations when you might want to use Spanish curse words. Maybe you’re frustrated with a difficult task and need to release some energy. Maybe you’ve had a bad day and need to lash out at someone. In any case, be careful what word you use and to whom! 

In Spanish-speaking countries, curse words are used not only to express frustration or insult people but also casually among friends. Sometimes friends even use these words with each other for fun or to show love. But although they are used frequently, you definitely shouldn’t use them with strangers, teachers, or your boss (if you want to avoid trouble 😉).



Not all Spanish curse words have the same meaning, it varies by country. The same word in Spain can have a different connotation in Latin America. Therefore, when using these words, make sure that you use them respectfully to avoid offending others.

How to Swear like a Native Speaker in Spanish?

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In the following sections, we will give you several commonly used swear words and expressions and their English equivalents. We’ll divide them into swear words of Spain, swear words of Latin America (Mexico, Argentinia, Colombia) and general ones. 

Swear Words Used in Spain

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Single-Word Swears:

1. Joder (fuck)

The word “joder” is a very common way to say fuck in Spanish. Although, it has a less strong connotation than the English equivalent. In most Spanish cultures, teens and adults use it loosely with no offense intended. It is one of the most versatile Spanish swear words and has become a part of the language.

2. Gilipollas (idiot, dickhead, douchebag)

Someone who is extremely stupid or dumb. It is used frequently to describe idiots.

3. ¡Hostia! (shit)

It can both mean host or shit. Originating from the South of Spain, it describes the host in communion. Considering that Spain is a catholic country, incorporating the holy church can be offensive. Still, it is often used as an interjection of surprise, displeasure, admiration, or pain.

4.  Cojones (balls)

The literal meaning of this word is “balls”. However, it is used so often that it lost its meaning and association with the actual body part. “Cojones” is mostly used to talk about having courage or in situations where you think someone is talking bullshit.

5. Coño (fuck/c*nt)

Coño” literally means c*nt. But like the previous swear word, “coño” is also no longer associated with this body part. This word is regularly used as an exclamation to express surprise, anger, or frustration and is among the most versatile Spanish swear words.

Multi-Word Swears:

1. Vete a freír espárragos (Go fry asparagus)

This expression is used to tell somebody to piss off, to leave you alone, to stop bothering you… (in an innocent way). It dates from the nineteenth century and was used to give someone a useless task because asparagus, unlike other vegetables, take longer to fry than to boil. It is best to use it in an informal context.

2. Que te den (por culo) (Fuck off)

“Que te den por culo” literally means “To give it to you through your ass”.  It is also commonly abbreviated as “que te den” and has the same meaning.  This expression is used to indicate contempt or an undesirable situation for the interlocutor. Keep in mind that this is a very rude Spanish expression.

3. A tomar por culo (To hell with it)

And another expression with culo… This is a very popular phrase in Spanish and has two meanings. Usually Spaniards use it to say to hell with it or fuck it to indicate that it’s enough, in a quite vulgar way. In its second meaning, this phrase does not mean anything vulgar, but rather exaggerates a distance.

4. Una polla en vinagre (A dick in vinegar)

This expression doesn’t make much sense in English, but in Spain, it is used when you want to emphasize the disagreement you have on some issue. Its equivalent in English depends on the context, but it can generally be translated to fuck it. The etymological origin of the expression is quite complicated to find, but a theory suggests that this expression is the name of a dish made with sardines and chili peppers, from a place in the municipality of Yecla.

5. Que te folle un pez (I hope you get fucked by a fish)

Whoever invented this colorful expression definitely didn’t lack imagination and creativity! In English, the meaning would be screw you or fuck youIt’s not that commonly used, but when it’s used, it sounds more like a joke, especially if you say it to a friend.

6. Me cago en… (I shit on…)

This is an expression you can get creative with! It is combinable with almost any (swear) word. Loosely translated it almost always means fuck. For example:

7. La madre que te parió (The mother that birthed you)

In English, this expression is translated as “motherfucker“. It is one of the most vulgar expressions, so use it with caution! In colloquial Spanish, this phrase is used to express anger, surprise, and occasionally contentment.

Let's try this exercise!

Swear Words Used in Latin America

How to Swear in Mexican Spanish?

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1. Pinche (Fucking)

This is one of the most common swear words used in Mexico. You can add it to just about any (swear)word you want. With it, you can increase the impact of your message.

2. No mames (Don’t suck it)

This expression translates loosely to no fucking way, what the fuck or holy shit. The milder expression “no manches” expresses the same feeling, but can also be used in the presence of elders as it is translated to “no way“.

3. Chinga tu madre (Go bother your mother/fuck your mother)

We don’t recommend you use this on every occasion since it’s highly offensive. It literally means fuck your mother when using it in an offensive way. But among friends, it can also be used in a funny way and translated as dammit.

4. Valió verga (It was worth cock)

It means something is fucked.

5. Pendejo (Public hair)

Instead of being used literally, it is mainly used as a stronger form of idiot.

Argentinian Swears

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1. La concha de tu madre (Your mother’s vagina)

This is a a very common expression in Argentinan and mostly used to express anger or annoyance.

2. Boludo and pelotudo (idiot, dummy)

Argentinians use these words for persons who make silly mistakes or do not take responsibility for their actions. These words are pretty inoffensive and can be used casually among friends.

3. Orto (ass)

Instead of saying culo, in Argentina they say orto. There are many phrases with this swear word, all with different meanings.

4. Coger (to fuck)

Although in Spain, this word literally means to take or to get, in Argentina and in some other Latin American countries, they use it as a way to say someone slept with someone. So think twice before you use this in Argentina. Instead you can say “agarrar”, which also means to take or to get.

Colombian Bad Words

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1. Hijueputa (Son of a bitch)

In Colombia, they use this contraction of “hijo de puta” for a despicable person with bad intentions, but also to express anger, fear, dissatisfaction, surprise or intense emotion.

2. Gonorrea

We all know this as a sexually transmitted disease, but in Colombia it is also commonly used to say to someone who acts in an unpleasant way. Considering its strong meaning, avoid using this word.

3. Huevón (Fool)

It is used to describe a person who is taken advantage of by everyone. In other Latin American countries, the same word is used with different meanings.

4. Lámpara (Lamp)

It literally means lamp, but in Colombia it’s used for a cocky person, a person who shows off too much, who gives themself a lot of credit.

Test your knowledge!

General Curse Words and their Meaning

Stronger Spanish Swear Words

A Word of Advice: be Careful with Swear Words!

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As a non-native speaker, it can be difficult to estimate the power of a swear word. It is therefore not recommended to use the aforementioned swear words in formal situations. It is always a good idea to listen to native speakers when they use certain words and in what situations.

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