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SAY What?

Two parts cultural commentary, one part personal ranting. Serve with a side of political debate. May contain sarcasm.

12 Spanish Words That Have Absolutely No English Equivalent.
01 October 2014 @ 15:01

When I started learning languages I honestly thought that it would be a case of learning the foreign word for all the English words. It never occurred to me that they'd put their words in a different order. Or that they'd use different tenses. Or that some words just wouldn't exist. I was so downhearted when I found out it wasn't as easy as x = y that I wanted to just give up there and then. 13 years later this is the thing I most enjoy about languages. Discovering words and phrases that just don't exist in other languages. Words that you can't translate literally. 

Here are some of my favourite Spanish words which don't have a direct translation in English:

1) La Edad de Pavo

Literal translation: the age of the turkey

This is the awkward age (about 12-14) when kids turn into nightmares. When they start disrespecting their parents, thinking they know it all and start showing off to their friends. I assume the analogy comes from turkeys strutting their stuff with their tail feathers all displayed. 

2) Agujetas

The achy pain you get the day after you do a lot of exercise. 

3) Friolero

Someone who is always cold.

4) Un Vinagre

Literal translation: a vinegar. 

Meaning: A man of around 50-60 who has let himself go. He gets disgustingly drunk and pervs on young women. In general they smell bad, are grumpy and hang around a bar all day drinking and smoking. The idea is like when wine turns into vinegar; the man has turned sour. 

5) Tener ganas

It's 'want to' / 'look forward to' / 'can't wait to' all at the same time. 

6) Concuñado/a

The partner of your brother-in-law or of your sister-in-law. Or the partner of your husband's/wife's brother or sister-in-law. 

In English it's brother-in-law just the same. In Spanish there's a clear difference between the brother-in-law and the guy who's married to the sister-in-law.

7) Consuegro/a

The relationship between the two sets of parents when people get married.

8) Desvelado/a

To not be sleeping when you should be sleeping because something is keeping you up (like the neighbours having a party).

9) Tocayo/a

A person who has the same name as you. It can mean namesake (a person you were named after), and in that case there is an English equivalent. But it also means when you randomly meet someone and you have have the same name. There's no word for that in English.

10) Botellón

An event when a large group of people, mainly teenagers or students, get extremely drunk in a public place. 

11) Entrecejo

The space between your eyebrows.

12) Pringado

The unlucky person who has to do the work no one else wants to do. Usually because he's new or easy to manipulate.



Like 2




15 Comments


Irene said:
04 October 2014 @ 08:02

What reason did you give the man in the photo to get him to pose? I bet if he recognises himself he won´t be a happy bunny!


Al said:
04 October 2014 @ 08:36

He's just getting off the metro poor fella and he'll definitely be recognised by that tattoo. ;))


don Tim said:
04 October 2014 @ 08:58

So is it "Soy vinagre" or "Soy un vinagre"?

or "Estoy de vinagre hoy"?


vickya said:
04 October 2014 @ 10:40

Is it soy una friolera?


jess869 said:
04 October 2014 @ 10:49

soy friolero/a
este hombre es un vinagre
(I don't think you'd ever want to call yourself un vinagre haha)

Friolero = adj
Vinagre = noun


abuelodesergio said:
04 October 2014 @ 10:53

What about consuegro/a, the other grand parents?


vickya said:
04 October 2014 @ 10:58

Ah soy friolera. Thank you. I actually left Spain in 2009, for family and economic reasons, after 2 happy years there, when I did go to Spanish classes, but I still enjoy reading Eye on Spain and would like to remember the Spanish. The rescued dogs we brought back with us are Spanish-speaking :).



Mebmate said:
04 October 2014 @ 14:18

In English the space between the eyebrows is called the glabella


mebmate said:
04 October 2014 @ 14:46

Your spouse's sibling's spouse is your co-brother-in-law or co-sister-in-law (sometimes abbreviated to co-brother or co-sister)


jess869 said:
04 October 2014 @ 16:17

Ahh I had no idea we had words for that in English. Co-brother-in-law sounds so strange.


Michael Lingolover said:
04 October 2014 @ 17:15

If you're friolero, then oop north, you're nesh.
Vickya, I'm sure you're not una friolera, which is una cosa de poca importancia.
Mebmate: What about the space between each side of your upper lip? If you didn't know, I'm sure you will find out in a couple of minutes. I've often heard it said that, like glabella, it doesn't have a name.


Mebmate said:
05 October 2014 @ 22:14

Michael, as I suspect that you already knew, the space between the centre of the upper lip and the centre of the base of the nose is called the philtrum


Rita said:
07 October 2014 @ 09:04

For tener ganas I would say to fancy doing something!


Michael Lingolover said:
07 October 2014 @ 14:15

Mebmate, You suspected right, but can you remind me of something I once found on a site like this and realised, when I saw your post, that I could no longer remember - the bit of your back that (supposedly) you can't reach to scratch, what I think can be described as the inter-scapular space?


Alberto Bullrich said:
20 November 2014 @ 16:09

Just got to your blog after seeing things on Writers on Spain. About this item: translation is NOT the same as transliteration, which means that it doesn't matter one iota of there is or isn't an exact equivalent to a word in another language. It is a matter of INTERPRETING the word or expression. Naturally, culture, climate and differing languages or dialects will have an influence on it all.


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