More favorite Spanish words

In March of last year I published a list of 35 of my favorite words in Spanish. As I said then, “Some of them because they’re beautiful, others because they’re fun to say, others because I like how they’re used or their meaning, and others because they just have a je ne sais quoi about them.” Though the post was a hit, it wasn’t until April of this year that it mysteriously became wildly popular, yesterday incidentally being its most popular day ever. I’m pretty sure it’s far from my greatest post, but I can’t seem to deflect and reroute its appeal to other posts that I deem worthier. Life is strange. I hope one of my “real” posts will one day dethrone it, but until then here are 35 more wonderfully whimsical words. And these are all words I’ve gradually come across via conversations, books, and life– no cheating and thumbing through the dictionary or looking up someone else’s list of best words! In any case, I’d like to think I wrote the definitive one.


natalicio (birthday, holiday in observance of a famous person’s birthday)

cantimplora (canteen, flask)

nalgadas (spankings)

almohadilla (ink pad; paw pad; small pillow, pincushion; hash, pound sign)

bambalinas (backdrop; backstage)

hijueputa (son of a bitch, bastard)

chichiguas (pittance, petty amount; nursemaids; kites; nursing animals)

empiyamada (in one’s pajamas)

renacuajo (tadpole; runt, squirt)

bobalicona (dumbbell, twit, dope, dolt)

borbotones (bubbling, gushing)

albaricoque (apricot)

decembrina (related to December)

feligrés (parishioner)

memorioso (having a good memory)

ningunear (to ignore, brush aside; to look down on, treat like dirt)

cachivaches (knickknacks, odds and ends; junk)

porquería (junk, rubbish; dirt; mess; filth, indecency; pittance; shoddy work)

cacharrear (to fiddle with something until you figure it out, to tinker)

fulano (nobody, Joe Shmoe, so-and-so, whatshisname, some random person)

locuacidad (loquacity, talkativeness)

cumbamba (chin)

casquisuelta (prostitute, easy woman)

horripilante (hideous; horrifying)

andariego (full of wanderlust, footloose, wanderer)

curiosear (to poke around, snoop; to glance at, look around)

verdulería (produce store; vegetable stand; mayhem, chaos; an obscenity)

papanatas (sucker, dupe)

golosina (treat, candy; incentive; useless object; desire, fancy; sweet tooth)

hediondo (smelly, foul, reeking; repulsive; filthy; obscene; unbearable)

piquiña (itching; envy)

mermar (to reduce, turn down)

mequetrefe (good for nothing, schmuck; busybody)

parvulario (preschool, day care)

rosaleda (rose garden, rose bed)

Now you have 70 splendid words to season your Spanish with! Please share more– the Spanish language has no shortage of loveliness. Which words do you like best? Which one do you vow to use ASAP? Which do you hate? What new favorites have you come across lately? I wish I had the time to share the background of each word’s acquisition, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. What a treat to be able to speak such a beautiful language.


15 responses to “More favorite Spanish words

  1. I love Vocabat!


  2. desarrollar – usé como un trabalenguas para pulir mi doble r, el sonido de doble l y la combinación y orden de vocales que contiene…. recuerdo muchas veces por el tren contando a mi mismo desarrollar, desarrollar, desarrollar…. creo que parecí un poquito tocado


    • Jaja, Sí, es una muy buena palabra. En lo personal, yo pronuncio la ll como la j en inglés, así que digo desarrollar como desarroJar. MedeJín, caJe, estoy Jeno. Pues, así aprendí a pronunciar esa letra en Colombia. La verdad, ¡se me dificulta un poco pronunciar desarrollar con la ll como y!


  3. Thank you for giving me nice linguistic snack this evening. :)


  4. Pingback: My favorite words in Spanish | Vocabat

  5. Really funny! Here is my contribution:
    Paparote (kind of like paparote but maybe not in the dictionary)

    And then, if you are going the hijueputa way, you should include jueputa and jijueputa… mérmele, mérmele.


    • Mequetrefe was on this list, pecueca was on the last one. I like cascarrabias, even though I think it’s kind of ugly. I didn’t know the other two- thanks! And when/how is mérmele, mérmele used?


      • Mequetrefe was on the list, which makes me a cabezadura for bringing it up again. Which reminds me of caradura, which, I understand, is used in Argentina. In some places in Colombia that would be conchudo.


      • Oh, and you had the perfect translation for mérmele, mérmele: tone it down! Usually said in a amusing, funny way.


  6. haha, que porquería es eso?? That’s one of my favorite words to say both for pronunciation and context. These are fun and some of them are very Colombian :)
    I actually thought of this blog recently (before seeing this list!) because I discovered the most wonderful word while reading Cien Años: ensimismarse/ensimismado. Maybe it’s because I’m almost always “ensimismada” but I loooove the construction, the meaning, the look and the sound. It gets its own post-it note rather than just a spot on the list on my wall.


    • SO. I was going to respond, saying that porquería is a great word for a couple of reasons. One, because you turn a question word– por qué–into a noun to say that something is a why. That is, it’s pointless. You just look at it and ask yourself why… and there’s no answer. Also, it sounds so much like puerco.

      But THEN. I looked it up in the DRAE just to double-check my etymology, and I saw that mine was totally bogus! It has nothing to do with por qué!! Well, I feel dumb. All that time… It says that it comes from porquera, and a porquera, as it turns out, is a person who looks after pigs or a place where wild boars live and sleep in the mountains. Seriously, I had no idea. Still love the word, but now it will have a slightly different weight to it.

      Yes, many of these words are super Colombian! I didn’t indicate which ones for the sake of space, but hopefully people will look things up before they go spouting them off in front of the Spanish king or something.

      I love ensimismado, too. When you think about it, it seems like there should be different forms: enmimismado, entimismado, ennosmismados, etc. But it’s always ensimismado. One thing I’m curious about and don’t remember is if you usually talking about someone siendo or estando ensimismado. Is it absent-mindedness or daydreaming that comes over someone in the moment, or is it more of a way of being? Like someone who’s kind of quiet, withdrawn, and a bit distant by nature. How do you like the book?

      Thanks for the comment. It makes me happy that other people enjoy words like I do :)


      • I always thought it came from “por qué” too! It made so much sense…but so does the real etymology. I think GGM used estar ensimismado, but someone could “ser” too, no? I am really enjoying 100 Años – I started it as a kind of chore to prove myself, my Spanish and my love for Colombia and now I’m into it! Even if I have to cheat and check Sparknotes every few chapters to make sure I’m not missing something :)


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