The Cultured Guide to

Spanish Curse Words

By Tamara Mathov


Cursing isn’t the nicest thing to do, but sometimes you just need to get it out of your system.

Curse words can come out of our mouth as automatically as the sounds we make when we are surprised or in pain. There’s a belief that people that have been living in a foreign country have a harder time sticking to their second language when they are emotional; no matter how long they’ve been learning Spanish, they end up switching to their mother tongue to express happiness or anger.

Knowing a few Spanish curse words could certainly help convey how you feel, and form a stronger emotional attachment to your second language.

But there’s a bigger reason to learn Spanish curse words.

Many Spanish curse words have become deeply ingrained in everyday speech.  Some Spanish speakers use these words regularly to emphasize their feelings, as exclamations, or even as terms of endearment with their friends.

Native speakers tend to talk very quickly, and when interlaced with profanity, it can be especially difficult for the uninitiated to understand. Therefore, knowing some of these words could improve your comprehension skills, providing insight not only to the meaning of what someone is saying, but also to the colorful emotions behind the words.

Please be warned, some of the following Spanish curse words are extremely vulgar.  Do not continue reading if you are easily offended.


Spanish Curse Words that Everyone Understands

The vast majority of Spanish curse words tend to be regional. This means that daily used Mexican curse words may not be understood in Chile and they may even mean something different in Peru. However, there are six simple Spanish curse words that would shock some grandmothers to the same extent all over the world.


This word, as you may have guessed, is equivalent to the English word “idiot”. What you probably didn’t know is that it comes from ancient Greek. Back then, this word was used to refer to a person that didn’t care about public affairs. In their society, minding your own business was idiotic.

Why would we call someone “idiota”? Well, mainly because we don’t like him or her, or maybe because someone we like is doing something that we don’t consider smart.

For instance, I have a friend that tends to date the worst kind of guys, so this is more or less what I would say to her:

¿Vas a salir otra vez con ese idiota? (Are you going out with that idiot again?)

Level of rudeness: 7/10.

As with most curse words, it is fair to state that its aggressiveness depends on many external factors, such as the relationship among the participants and the tone of the conversation.


As “idiota”, “estúpido/a” also has a literal English equivalent that is, of course, “stupid”. We find its origins in Latin, and it used to mean that someone was paralyzed or unable to react.

If we have had a very bad fight with someone we can call a friend and say “¿Sabes lo que me hizo ese estúpido?” (Do you know what that stupid person did to me?)

Level of rudeness: 8/10

Its usage is quite similar to the use of “idiota”, but harsher. Having an accent mark in the second to last syllable makes this word much stronger, so you will sound very upset.

Spanish curse words


This word also comes from Latin and it was used to describe stutterers or people with speech difficulties. Currently, it describes a person that is not particularly intelligent.

As an insult, it is not very efficient: it sounds a little bit childish and it is not strong enough. It is usually used in a friendly tone to tell someone that he or she is taking something the wrong way: “No seas bobo, era un chiste” (Don’t be silly, it was a joke).

Level of rudeness: 5/10.

Even if it is soft, it is still a rude thing to say, especially if you aren’t close enough to the person to whom you are talking.


“Maldito/a” also comes from Latin and it means “cursed” or “damn”. It is a combination of Spanish words “mal” and “dicho”, which in English would be something like “bad words”.

Sometimes it means that someone is evil, but it is commonly used to describe objects that for some reason are annoying us. You can say things such as “Maldito computador, es muy lento” (damn computer, it is very slow) or “maldita mesa, me golpee el dedo” (Damn table, I hit my toe)

Level of rudeness: 4-5/10

If you attach it to a person’s name, it is quite similar to “bobo”, but if you attach it to an object it is not a big deal. However, you still probably don’t want to curse your furniture or devices in front of your boss or your grandparents.

Hijo/a de puta

This is probably the rudest thing that you can say to someone. The word “puta” is a pejorative word that means “prostitute”, so when you call someone “hijo/a de puta” what you are calling that person is “son/daughter of a whore”. In certain contexts, this insult is considered sexist and politically incorrect.

It is used as a synonym of “bad person”. When you call someone “hijo/a de puta” you are not only saying that person did something bad, you mean that he or she did it on purpose: “¡Qué hijo de puta! No puedo creer lo que hizo” (Son of a b*tch! I can’t believe what he did!)

Level of rudeness: 9/10

This word doesn’t get the maximum only because a 10 would imply a combination of swear words such as “maldito hijo de puta” or any other words that you can put together (creativity is a must when it comes to cursing).


“Mierda” is the only word from our list that is not usually used to insult people. It literally means excrement, but vulgar.

How does “mierda” works? There are two possibilities. When something bad happens, you can scream “¡mierda!” (shit!) and add a comment about the situation, “¡Mierda! Perdí todas las fotos” (Shit! I lost all my pictures) is something I would say, but you can add whatever seems terrible to you. The second option is to use it as “maldito/a” but worse, such as “Computador de mierda! Nunca funciona” (Shitty computer! It never works”)

Level of rudeness: 7/10

Curse words that don’t refer to people tend to be less offensive, but it is still rude to scream “¡mierda!” in work environments or around strangers.


Local Spanish Curse Words

If you want to broaden your range of possibilities and master the art of insulting, you can learn some regional subtleties in order to impress (or offend) your native friends.

Here I’ll share with you a sample of four Spanish speaking countries.  Each country has an endless supply unique curse words, I’ve simply chosen a few of the most interesting ones.

If you are currently living or traveling in a country not listed here, you can always go out and be mean to some locals so you can hear some of the local flavors first-hand! (I’m kidding, this is not advisable for your personal safety).




This word has its origins in the verb “amarrar” (to tie) and it means “stingy”. If you know someone that is always counting the pennies or doesn’t tip, you can tell him or her “¡No seas amarrete!” (Don’t be stingy!)

Level of rudeness: 4/10


“Desorejado” literally means someone whose ears have been removed. This is a very weird metaphor and very few people know that it comes from a terribly violent medieval punishment that consisted of removing people’s ears. This way, everybody could identify the delinquent.

Luckily, this was done hundreds of years ago and today, the word describes someone that is irresponsible or does stupid and dangerous things. If you are at a party and your friend that has been drinking wants to drive home, you can tell him or her: ¡no seas desorejado/a!

Level of rudeness: 4/10




This is a contraction of a more general insult that is “la concha de tu madre”. This insult is extremely rude and kind of sexist, because it literally means “the vagina of your mother” and it is used as “motherf*cker”.

If someone is bothering you and you don’t mind increasing the heat, you can say “¿Qué te pasa, conchetumadre?” (What’s up motherf*cker?)

However, as most insults, it can mean the exact opposite when you use a friendly tone. Don’t be surprised if you hear someone addressing a friend with “conchetumadre”. But be very careful if you do it, because if it is misinterpreted, people may lose their temper (and they would have a very good reason for that).

Level of rudeness: 9/10

Andate a la chucha

This expression is also pretty hardcore. When you are extremely angry with someone to the point that you don’t want to see his or her face any time soon, you could say “¡Andate a la cucha! No te quiero ver más” (Go f*ck yourself! I don’t want to see you again).

As it happens with many curse words, the word “chucha” refers to female genitals.

Level of rudeness: 8/10




This is probably the most disgusting Spanish swear word ever. Yes, it is the same as gonorrhea. And yes, it is THAT gross.

It means many different things depending on the context and tone, but in general, it refers to something disgusting. For instance, you can say “¡Qué gonorrea ese baño! Está muy sucio” (How disgusting that toilet! It is very dirty!).

Sometimes it also means that someone is a very bad person. You can give a piece of advice to a friend and say “Juan es una gonorrea, mejor aléjate de él” (Juan is a bad person, you better stay away from him).

Shockingly, it can also mean that someone or something is extremely good, such as “María es una gonorrea, toca muy bien la guitarra” (María is a genius, she plays the guitar very well”.

Keep in mind that this word is extremely vulgar, so you can’t say it in front of strangers if you don’t mean to be rude.

Level of rudeness: 9/10


“triplehijueputa” is a contraction that means “three times a son/daughter of a b*tch”, because “hijueputa” by itself was not offensive enough for Colombians. Notice that “hijueputa” is a contraction of “hijo/a de puta” but it is faster to say it all together.

This expression is used as “hijo/a de puta” but a little bit more exaggerated. This is a very strong insult so you must use it wisely. It probably should be your final argument: “Eres un triplehijueputa, me voy de aquí” (you are three times a son of a b*tch, I’m leaving).

Level of rudeness: 9/10




It wouldn’t be exaggerated to consider that “boludo” has become a national heritage. In some countries, Argentineans are known as “boludos” and most foreigners don’t really get that it is actually an insult.

It usually means “estúpido” or “bobo”. You can call someone else “boludo” but it is also very common to call yourself that, as in “¡Qué boluda! Lo hice mal” (What a fool! I did it wrong).

Finally, don’t be surprised if you hear someone addressing a friend saying “boludo” as a synonym of “hey”: “Boludo, ¿viste la película que te dije?” (Hey, did you watch the film I mentioned?). It would be offensive if you address someone older than you or a stranger, but it is completely natural if you are close to that person.

Level of rudeness: 6/10

 La concha de la lora

If you think about it, this is a very funny thing to say. Once again, the word “concha” refers to female genitals. Yes, it is getting old; but “lora” is probably unexpected: it means “female parrot”. Argentineans are literally saying “the female parrot’s vagina”.

What could this possibly mean?!

On the one hand, it is used as an exclamation. Remember “mierda”? Well, something like that, but more vulgar. When something unexpected, unpleasant or exasperating happens, you can scream “¡la concha de la lora!” as when you spill your coffee: “¡La concha de la lora! ¡Mi computadora!” (¡F*ck! ¡My computer!)

On the other hand, and this is my favorite usage, it means “very far away”: “Mi hermana vive en la concha de la lora, tengo que viajar tres horas para verla” (My sister lives very far away, I have to travel for three hours to see her”). Yes, when Argentineans say that someone lives far away, they say that they live in a parrot’s vagina.

Level of rudeness: 8/10




If you have ever watched a film from Spain you may have already heard this word. It is a combination of “gil” and “polla”. “Gil”, on the one hand, comes from Spanish Gypsys and it is similar to “bobo”, that is, silly, fool or stupid. On the other hand, “polla” means masculine genitalia.

Its medieval usage was quite controversial. When a man only fathered female kids, he was called “gilipollas”. They believed that his penis wasn’t smart enough to bring male kids to the world.

Currently (and thankfully), the word has since changed its meaning and Spanish people use it as an exacerbation of “bobo”. When someone is excessively silly or acting very stupid, you can say “¡deja de hacerte el gillipollas y hablame!” (Stop acting stupid and talk to me!)

Level of rudeness: 8/10

Que te folle un pez

This is a more creative version of the English expression “go f*ck yourself” and it basically means “I hope a fish f*cks you”. “Follar” is a curse word itself that means, of course, “to have sex”.

When you are upset with someone and you want to express your disdain, you can send them to have sex with a fish. Its metaphorical meaning is uncertain. It may mean “go and do whatever you want because I don’t care; not even if you do something as bizarre as having sex with a fish”. Although, this would set an unachievable challenge since fish use external fertilization to reproduce.

Considering how absurd it sounds, it tends to be funnier than offensive, especially if you say it to a friend. However, if you call a stranger that, he or she will definitely be offended.

Level of rudeness: 7/10

Most teachers won’t even consider teaching these kind of language because, well, yelling and cursing can destroy friendships, hurt people, and have all sorts of nasty consequences.  But the truth is that we do use these words and sometimes it can even be healing. Personally, I prefer those curse words addressed to the universe rather than to other people, but the right curse word in the right moment can bring relief.

Maybe you’re ready to use some of these yourself, or maybe not, but at least you’ll now know what it means when someone calls you a “bobo”.

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