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Spanish Matters - a blog in English and Spanish for those learning the language

This blog is entitled "Spanish Matters", because it does! Matter, that is. If you have committed to living in Spain, you should also make a commitment to learn some Spanish. So this is a blog about matters Spanish, as well as promoting the notion that Spanish does indeed matter. The blog contains articles in both English and Spanish. Don Pablo hopes it will be helpful to those learning the language.

Bottle openers, bodyguards and balaclavas
Thursday, December 9, 2021 @ 6:30 AM

There is a common type of compound noun in Spanish which describes a person or a device that does something. Like a can opener, a corkscrew or a gamekeeper. These are known as exocentric verb-noun compounds. In Spanish such words are formed from the 3rd person singular of a verb and the plural of a noun. The resulting combination is always masculine singular, despite the fact that most of these words end in “s”. In this post don Pablo lists some of the more common and more interesting ones.

 

 

People

 

un aguafiestas – party pooper

 

un chupatintas - penpusher

 

un comecocos – brain teaser; un comefuegos – fireater;

un comehostias – goody goody (lit: a communion wafer eater)

 

un cortabolsas – pickpocket

 

un guardabosques – gamekeeper; un guardacostas –coastguard;

un guardaespaldas – bodyguard; un guardameta – goalkeeper

 

un lavacaras – toady, creep (lit: face washer = a**e licker)

 

un limpiabotas – bootblack, shoeshine boy; un limpiachimeneas – chimney sweep; un limpiacristales –window cleaner; un limpiacoches – street car washer;

 

 

Household items

 

un abrebotellas – bottle opener; un abrelatas – tin opener;

un abrecartas – letter opener

 

un cortahuevos – egg slicer, un cortahumedades – dampproof course;

un cortapapeles – paper cutter; un cortaalambres – wire cutters;

un cortacircuitos/cortacorrientes – circuit breaker;

un cortapapeles – paper cutter, guillotine; un cortapuros – cigar cutter;

un cortaúñas – nail clippers; un cortavidrios – glass cutter;

 

un lavamanos – handbasin; un lavapiés – footbath; un lavaplatos – dishwasher;

un lavavajillas – washing-up liquid;

 

un limpiacristales – window-cleaning fluid; un limpiadientes – toothpick;

un limpiahornos – oven cleaner; un limpiamuebles – furniture cleaner

 

un matamoscas – fly swat

 

un posavasos – coaster; beer mat

 

un sacacorchos - corkscrew

 

un quitaesmaltes – nail varnish remover; un quitamanchas – stain remover

un quitamiedos - handrail

 

un sacapuntas – pencil sharpener

 

 

Transport

 

un guardacostas – coastguard vessel

 

un lavacoches – car wash; un lavaparabrisas – windscreen washer fluid

 

un parabrisas – windscreen; un parachoques - bumper

 

un portaaviones – aircraft carrier;

un portamaletas, un portaequipajes – car boot; roof rack

 

un quitanieves – snow plough

 

 

Outside activities and equipment

 

un cortafuegos – firebreak; un cortavientos – windbreak

 

un espantapájaros - scarecrow

 

un paracaídas – parachute; un paraguas – umbrella;

un pararrayos – lightning conductor

 

 

Natural world

 

un chupasangres – blood sucker

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

un matasellos – postmark

 

un pasamontanas – balaclava

 

 

A handful that don’t end in “s”

 

un cortacésped – lawn mower

 

un parasol – parasol

 

un pasaporte – passport; un pasatiempo - pastime

 

un quitapintura – paint remover; un quitasol - sunshade;

un quitasueño – worry, problem (lit: sleep depriver)

 

 

If you know any more of these exocentric verb-noun compounds, please add them to the comment section at the end of this article.

 



Like 1




1 Comments


Margery said:
Saturday, December 11, 2021 @ 9:51 AM

Thankyou both interesting and informative. Great to know HOW words are formed.... makes it easier to understand new ones that we trip over

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