When it comes to Spanish curse words, there’s a subtle art to swearing. Whether it be venting in a moment of frustration, expressing enthusiasm or making an exclamation of pain or disgust, Spanish-speakers sure know the power of an emphatic expletive.
But, since Spanish is so widely-spoken, there’s plenty of room for error. What might be fairly normal in Spain, may be extremely offensive in another Spanish-speaking country. And, as we all know, some swear words are weightier than others. Not to mention, how rude something is perceived, depends largely on context.
Ready to learn how to swear like a Spanish sailor? Keep reading to learn some of my favorite Spanish curse words from all over the world.
Spanish Curse Words for General Exclamations
Universally used by Spanish-speakers, “mierda”, like “shit” in English is a standard entry-level curse word. Not too offensive, “mierda” is a reliable go-to in moments of frustration. Don’t want to set a bad example for little ones or upset others? You can sub “miercoles” (literally, Wednesday) for “mierda” like we’d use “shoot” or “sugar” in English instead of “shit”. You can use “mierda” as a general exclamation, to describe a person or something bad.
Favored by Spaniards, “joder” is pretty much interchangeable with “fuck” in English. Stubbed your toe? "¡Joder!" A friend just told you some bad news? "¡Joder! Que mal..." Living or traveling in Latin America? Spanish-speakers will understand what you’re saying but probably ask where you learned your Spanish. In other words, you won’t hear “joder” so much outside of Spain.
3. ¡Me cago en… la leche/la mar/Dios/tus muertos! – I shit in/on/over… the milk/the sea/God/your dead ones
Yes, you read that right… You’ll hear variations of this gem all over Spain. Try not to take it too literally! Although it may seem a bit odd at first, you can use most of these expressions instead of “shit” or “fuck” in moments of frustration or when something goes wrong.
Obviously, some variations are more offensive than others. ¡Me cago en Dios! Literally, “I shit on God!” is not always well received and is sometimes substituted for the more politically correct, “¡Me cago en Diez!”. If you really don’t give a shit and want to start something “¡Me cago en tus muertos!” which means “I shit over your dead parents” is the one for you. Use at your own risk.
As with the word, “cunt” in English, “coño” is a word that divides. Some consider it obscene, others use it daily and with great enthusiasm. Many of my Venezuelan friends put it to regular use in conversation, more like you would “shit” or “damn” and don’t seem to think much of it. And, as in English, it doesn’t always have a negative connotation. It is often used to emphasize something positive. For example, “¡Coño! ¡Está buena la rumba!” would mean something like, “Damn! This party is going off!”
“Verga” is Spanish for dick. So, “¡(Vete) a la verga!” literally means, “Go to the dick!”. Are you beginning to understand why teachers hate Google Translate? When you hear a Spanish speaker exclaim, “ ¡A la verga!” in a moment of surprise, excitement or frustration they really mean something like “holy shit”. And if someone tells you, “¡(Vete) a la verga!” it basically means “Go to hell!”.
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Amongst friends, “¡No (me) jodás!” is often used in a light-hearted way. But as always it depends on the tone of voice and the context. It can mean anything from, “You’re full of shit!” to “Stop fucking with me.”
Since puta is an abbreviation for prostituta, it may come as surprise that if something is "de puta madre" it's actually really fucking cool. Don't confuse this one with "tu puta madre" ("your mother is a whore), which clearly is not a cool thing to say. This expression is pretty normal in Spain but in my experience not so much in Latin America.
Spanish Curse Words for Describing People
One of my fave Spanish curse words, for sure. Gilipollas is fun to pronounce and not sooo rude but it is recognizably from Spain. Put it to good use when one of your buddies is out of line or acting like an idiot by saying “¡No seas gilipollas!”. In other words, “Don’t be an idiot!”.
This expletive is too good to leave off the list but really only used in Mexico. Sure, you can use it with Spanish-speakers from all over, but they’ll think you learned your Spanish in Mexico so if you’re trying to pass for a local, save it for Mexico. You can add it to just about anything to express your dissatisfaction. For example, “¡Odio ese pinche trabajo!” would mean, “I hate this fucking job”.
Although it’s often used in a loving way amongst mates in Spain and Mexico, “cabrón” can also be quite offensive. As with all curse words, it depends on the context. Calling someone a “cabrón” during a heated argument is not going to go over well.
A Quick Tip On Learning Curse Words... And Not Only Them
This app allows you to save own words (looks up translations automatically) and learn them with 3 types of the learn mode (spelling, pronunciation). So, if you want to go beyong this posts' vocab and learn some other Spanish curse words you come up with yourself, Mate's a perfect companion!