21 Spanish Swear Words You Needn’t Say Around “Abuelitas”

If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish swear words, well, you’re in for a treat, amigo.

Cursing is an art-form in itself, and no language better expressed frustration than ole’ Spanish. However, learning how to express  your anger or angst it in a way that makes the locals “feel you” is a whole another story. Especially when a language barrier is present.

It’s complicated — but I’ve got you, marika.

Having traveled far and wide though Latin America, I’ve become a living, breathing gringo cursing encyclopedia. Errr, something like that. Close enough for government work.

Think of me as a scholar of “puteadas”, a bard of funny Spanish swear words — and of this article as my masterclass. Guaranteed to make you able to make the most foul-mouthed and hardened abuelita blush, or you get your money back.


spanish swear words

How to Learn Spanish | Gringo’s Guide

Now before we dive too deep into the Spanish swear words abyss, it’s important to have a decent grasp of the love language.

Nobody likes the gringo who can barely order a cerveza at the bar or confirm a hotel reservation, but will muter “puta madre” at every passerby.

Luckily, it’s damn easy to learn Spanish these days.

With just a little effort and some study, you’ll be speaking Spanish like a local in no time. You just need to know where to turn.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of courses and apps. In theory, they can work. In practice, you miss a lot of the proper pronunciation when you start using apps and courses.

Nope! You need to speak to a native Spanish speaker when you’re learning. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking with them on Skype in your parent’s basement or at a university class in Cali, Colombia.

If you can travel and take classes in-person, just do it. Highly, highly recommended. But make sure to learn a little bit before you go.

For individuals looking to study before they travel, my two favorite options are:

  • BaseLang: This amazing monthly services offers unlimited Spanish lessons with a private tutor online for one low monthly price. It’s an amazing deal. Plus, BaseLang offers an amazing curriculum to have you speaking fluently in no time. This is how I started learning Spanish. If you’re looking to study more than 4+ hours a week, this is the best way to learn Spanish from home.

  • Italki: If you’re just getting started, Italki is another ideal private classroom platform. You can take one-on-one Spanish lessons with tutors from all around the world. The quality of teacher varies, but some of these teachers are amazing! If you’re studying less than 3-4 hours a week, this is where I’d start. I also recommend Italki if budget is no option, as the best online Spanish teachers in the world are here.

This is really all you need to do when first starting to learn Spanish. Make sure to take detailed notes during each class, then transfer the notes to a Google Doc and flashcards immediately after each class.

You’ll be having conversations in Spanish after taking about 20+ hours of private classes. 100+ hours is when you’ll really start to see improvement.

Now we’re ready to talk about Spanish curse words and slang!

Top 11 Spanish Swear Words

Ayyyeee! It’s time to dig into the “rice and beans” of this bad boy.

Everything you’d ever need to know about Spanish curse words…from a gringo with a dirty, dirty mouth.

Alas, let’s dig in…

NOTE: Some of these are foreign enough to us gringos that the explanation will also be the example. We’ll use examples where it’s needed.

#11. Pelotudo

Definition/Meaning: Dumbass, or not the sharpest tool in the shed. Can also be uses as: best buds.

You can easily find yourself on the wrong end of a “pelotudo”. A rather mild insult that sounds way stronger than it’s meant, it means literally “big balled” — which is derogatory in Spanish for some reason. When saying “pelotudo”, you’re mostly calling the other person a dumbass — someone who doesn’t think things ever. Idiotically.

It’s pretty mild though, that you can just as easily find yourself on the right side of a “pelotudo” — friends commonly use it to refer to each other without any intention of insulting the receiver.

Used in: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay

~ Examples:
Qué te pasa, pelotudo? / What’s wrong with you, dumbass?
Como estás, pelotudo? Tanto tempo.  / How are you, dumbass? Long time no see.

#10. Cagón

Definition/Meaning: Coward or pussy

“Cagón” is someone with no balls, courage or sense of adventure. Boring.

A softy, if you may. Literally meaning “a shitter”, as someone who shits themselves when the going gets uncomfortable. Not what most of us want to be known as!

Used in: Most of Latin America

~ Example:
Qué, no te animas a hablarle a la chica? Cagón. / What, you don’t have the balls to talk to that girl? Coward.

Ushuaia Sled Dogs

“Don’t be a cagón, bro.” — sled dog from Ushuaia, Argentina.

#9. Puta Madre

Definition/Meaning: Mother fucker! Can also mean “holy shit” and in some parts of Spain, it’s more of a good thing than an insult.

This Spanish curse word/phrase is pretty versatile. It’s usually used in moments of high frustration or stress. You’ll hear it used in many situations where a “mother fucker” would suffice in English. Standard stuff here.

The funny thing is…you’ll hear this one all the time in Latin America. Very common when walking around to hear this one thrown around as often as “hola” in certain parts.

When you’re on the road, and feel that your tire burst, you can safely throw a “Puta Madre!” to express your anger and fear.

You can just as easily use it when you’re so wasted that you spill your last cup of “caña” mix that you just bought with your taxi money.

Used in: Most of Latin America

~ Example:
Ese puta madre! / That mother fucker!

#8. Pija

Definition/Meaning: Dick, prick, dickhead. Can be used in situations where you’d call someone an “asshole” in English.

You’ll be called a “pija” when you’re being a giant prick or asshole. Cause that’s what it means, a vulgar slang term that refers to a man’s genitals.

Just be careful with this one, as the term changes country-by-country. Pija is a popular curse word in Central America and in some parts of South America. You won’t hear this one much in Mexico, and in Spain Pija actually means a snobbish girl.

Used in: Central America

~ Example:
Eres un pija. / You’re a dick.

#7. Cornudo

Definition/Meaning: Cuckold, cuck, sorry-ass dude.

A “cornudo” is essentially a cuckold. Literally, the word  means, “horned guy” — as Latinos say, the sad fellas who get cheated on and now acts like a bitch all the time.

But this term doesn’t just mean “cuck” or “cuckold” in Spanish, it also refers to the behavior of the man after he gets cheated on. How he starts acting like a lame, sorry-ass dude who feels bad for himself.

Used in: Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay

~ Example:
¡Me convertiste en un cornudo! / You made me a cuckold!

#6. Andá cagá

Definition/Meaning: Fuck off. Go fuck yourself.

“Andá cagá” means “go take a shit”. You can use it to tell people to get the hell out of your face, be it because they’re trying to rip you off, wasting your time or simply if it’s a friend who’s pulling your leg.

Can be used in both an aggressive manner and when joking around with friends.

Used in: Most of Latin America.

~ Example:
Andá cagá, loco! Pagame. / Fuck off, dude! Pay me.

sunrise latam

#5. Pendejo

Definition/Meaning: Dumbass or idiot.

A “pendejo” is a dumbass or idiot, almost like an immature child. If you’re being called pendejo, it’s likely because of being very naive or straight up dumb.

This is a common term and not that derogatory. You’ll hear pendejo all over Latin America.

Used in: Colombia, México, all over Latin America.

~ Example:
Quieres ir al barrio bajo a esta hora? No seas pendejo. / You wanna go to the hood at this time? Don’t be a dummy.

#4. Mierda

Definition/Meaning: Shit or bullshit.

“Mierda!” is literally the same as our “shit!” in every way, shape, and form.

Just as you’d use “shit!” when you narrowly miss a car crash or when you drop that tasty arepa on the floor you were waiting to eat all week, replace it with mierda for the same dramatic effect and cathartic result of mourning your poor food. Pendejo.

Used in: Literally everywhere people speak Spanish.

~ Example:
¡Mierda! Se me cayó el celular al inodoro. / Shit! My cell phone fell into the toilet.

#3. Perra

Definition/Meaning: Bitch, slut, wimp, wussy, etc.

There’s a lot of ways to use this Spanish swear word.

“Perra” is multi-dimensional.

You could insult a woman by calling her a perra — like a “slut” or “bitch” in English.

One can also become a “perra” by bitching out of fun things friends propose, like bungee jumping or doing 10 shots of tequila in a row.

Used in: Literally everywhere people speak Spanish.

~ Example:
Esa Juanita es una perra. Se metió con mi hermano y con mi padrastro. / That Juanita is a bitch. She hooked up with my brother and my stepfather.

dominican republic

#2. Hijo de Puta

Definition/Meaning: Son of a bitch.

“Hijo de puta” is more than common in Latin America. If you speak Spanish, you’ll probably hear this phrases muttered multiple times a day. Hijo de puta is one of the most common Spanish swear words.

It’s the kind of cursing that starts fights. Use sparingly, unless you’re with friends. This pharse might be the last thing you say before getting socked in the face. Hell, it might be the reason you get socked.

Used in: Everywhere.

~ Example:
Hijo de puta! / Son of  bitch!

#1. Puto

Definition/Meaning: Pussy, dick, asshole, bitch.

The “motherfucker” of the South. “Puto” is possibly the most versatile and widespread curse word in the Spanish language.

Meaning “fag” in literal terms, you can be sure that whoever throws it your way has a deep dislike of you. Calling someone a puto is the equivalent of calling another guy a bitch — thems fighting words.

Used in: All over Latin America

~ Example:
Qué miras, puto? / What are you looking at, bitch?

Country-By-County | Slang Spanish Curse Words


Now, we’ve just covered some of the most common Spanish curse words used in various countries throughout Latin America.

It’s time to dig into the details and check out some country-by-country Spanish sweat words:

‘Japiro’ | Paraguayan Slang

Definition/Meaning: “Fuck” it, that, you.

This one is a bit of a soft spot entry. While technically not Spanish, Paraguay’s “japiro” merits a mention in any self-respecting Spanish curse word article.

Stemming from the ancient Guaranì native language that Paraguayans claim as the official language of the country, it means “to peel” — as in “peel your foreskin” in some respects.

Through some strange twists of linguistics and fate, it’s used as “fuck off” and with a “go do something else that’s more productive than this” connotation.

It also works as “fuck you” or “fuck that” or “fuck it”.

~ Example:
Dale amigo, es solo un poquito de paco. - No, japiro amigo. / C’mon man, it’s just a little crack. - No, fuck that, dude.

‘Malparido’ | Costa Rican Slang

Definition/Meaning: Huge asshole.

“Malparido” is the biggest asshole you can think of. It’s that guy that just runs around with no regard for anyone or anything, acting like he owns the roads, can cut in line whenever, or can hit on your girl right in front of your face and genuinely thinks you won’t do anything about it.

Many a malparido wind up with broken noses or getting shrapnel removal. It literally translates to, “miscarried” — so yeah, it’s not a nice word and not something you say to friends in a joking way.

~ Example:
Ese malparido casi nos choca! / That asshole almost ran us over!

‘Ojete’ | Uruguayan Slang

Definition/Meaning: Asshole

Literally meaning “asshole”, ojete is Uruguay’s direct response to the ever-popular Anglo-Saxon slight. If you’re being constantly referred to as an “ojete” — well, you probably are.

~ Example:
Sos un ojete, sabés? / You’re an asshole, you know?

One of my favorite pictures ever. Patagonia, Argentina.

‘Culiao’ | Chilean Slang

Definition/Meaning: Jerk, or maybe even douche bag.

Sounding a lot worse than it actually is, “culiao” is a Chilean slang word meaning “fucked in the ass” when taken in literal terms. Hilariously, Chileans use this for two purposes — calling someone a jerk and referring to a dear friend.

Latin American Spanish, amigo. It’s a whole different set of rules 😉

~ Example:
Qué hubo, culiao? / What’s up, jerk?

‘Verga’ |Méxican Slang

Definition/Meaning: Penis, prick, fuck…or it can be used to say something is awesome.

“Verga” is a versatile Spanish curse word.

You may have heard its multiple uses in Netflix’s hit show, Narcos: Mexico. On one hand, it can be used to accentuate a question — like, “Quién vergas es ese?” — which means, “Who the fuck is that?”

It can also be used as an adjective to describe something awesome or robust.

But the most common way to use “verga” in daily life is by saying, “A la verga!” when something is surprising, often in a slightly negative way. It’s like saying “OMG!” in English.

~ Example:
Juan armò un equipo bien vergas para el torneo. / Juan put together an awesome team for the tournament.

‘Gonorrea’ | Colombian Slang

Definition/Meaning: Despicable and/or gross, an asshole. Mostly when describing other people.

This is possibly the most self-explanatory entry to this list. Just imagine how much a person has to hate another to refer to them as a nasty STD.

Colombians use “gonorrhea” not to refer to someone who’s caught the infamous disease, but rather someone who’s so disliked by them that they would gladly showcase them among the ranks of AIDS and genital warts.

It’s also used to describe less-than-savory situations. Learn more about Colombian slang.

~ Example:
Popeye: Pablo, nuestro objetivo escapó y va a ir a la policìa. / Pablo, our mark escaped and he’s going to the police.

Pablo: Me traes a ese gonorrea hijueputa ahora mismo! / You bring me that despicable son of a bitch right now!

‘Cojudo’ | Peruvian Slang

Definition/Meaning: Dummy, dumbass, idiot.

Your dim-witted friend will likely get the “cojudo” label when in Perú.

This term is generally used to describe someone who is just a little slow mentally. Or one that is easily taken advantage of due to a lack of common sense.

It’s not vulgar in nature, as the slang term can be used among friends too.

~ Example:
Doug es un cojudo. / Doug is an idiot.

‘Pajuo’ | Venezuelan Slang

Definition/Meaning: Snitch, daft, stupid.

Too much of a loose jaw can earn you the “pajuo” title when in Venezuela. It’s someone who’ll throw you under the bus in front of everyone else just to get a little clout for themselves.

Most commonly found in office spaces and the like, a “pajuo” can’t help it — as gossip is part of their lifeblood and they can’t do without it.

Also used to refer to a very dumb, clumsy, or boring person.

~ Example:
La novia de Jorge le contó que estuvimos juntos. Es una pajúa. / Jorge’s girlfriend told him we hooked up. She’s a snitch.

‘Chapiadora’ | Dominican Slang

Definition/Meaning: Gold digger.

This is one of my favorite Spanish swear words, although it’s more of a slang term than anything else. Only used in the Dominican Republic and a few other Caribbean locals, a “chapiadora” is a woman who only cares about money.

She’ll date an older, ugly guy as long as he has money, a nice car, and takes her to fancy places.

This is one of the most common Dominican slang terms you’ll find. You’ll hear it all over the Dominican Republic.

~ Example:
Estoy buscando una chapiadora exactamente como tu. / I'm looking for a gold-digger exactly like you.

‘Concha de la lora’ | Argentinian Slang

Definition/Meaning: Slight variation of “fuck” in Argentina.

We close off this strange linguistic ride with likely the most head-scratch-worthy entry of them all:

Argentina’s “la concha de la lora”

How can one even begin to explain this curse phrase? It translates to: “the female parrot’s pussy”. No, really. That’s a thing you will hear people say in Argentina — all the damn time.

Used mostly as an expression of despair, you don’t usually attach it to any other words, but rather use it to vent your frustration during unfortunate events.

Car got keyed by a crazy ex? “La concha de la lora!”

Missed your bus? “Coooncha de la lora”

Latina girlfriend catches you at the club with another mamacita? “La recooooncha de la looooraaaaa.”

mountains gafe

Spanish Swear Words | Overall?

Diosss miooo…

That was quite a ride, eh? We laughed, we cried, we cursed. Errr, hopefully we learned a thing or three, as well.

Latin America is made up of 33 countries. With as many cultural differences as that entails, one can only begin to imagine the amazing, devastating, and hilarious Spanish curse words we haven’t discussed yet!

Don’t be surprised if after you’ve made the abuelita blush with your dirty mouth, she might hit you back with one that’s too obscure to understand. Abuelitas can be low-key gangsta.

What Spanish curse words did I miss? What is your favorite way to insult someone in Spanish?

Sound off in the comments below, marika.

Que te vaya bien

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Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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