I didn’t mean to do it, honestly. My intention was to publish a list of offensive words and expressions to be wary of, as well as a list of gracious words and expressions, good for everyday use.
Clearly, I was deluded. I discovered hundreds of offensive words, more than I could ever put into one article.
As a result, the following is a list of some of the many ways Ticos have of berating each other – though I have left out the X-rated stuff.
Note that these words vary from one Latin American country to another, and what may be relatively harmless here might be an “F” word elsewhere, and vice versa.
The verb joder, for example, is extremely vulgar in some countries but relatively mild in Costa Rica, where it means “to bother” or “to bug.” From it comes the past participle jodido/a, meaning “messed up” or perhaps “screwed”:
¡No jodas! (Don’t bother [me]! Stop messing around!)
Mi carro está jodido. (My car is screwed up.)
Fregar actually means “to rub” or “to scrub,” but it has a similar meaning to joder, only a bit milder.
From it come the words fregado/a and fregadura. Costa Ricans tend to use fregado/a but not the other forms. They also use it to indicate illness:
- ¡Qué fregadura! (What a disaster!)
- Estoy fregado. (I feel lousy.)
- Other verb offensives include:
- ¡Cállate! (Shut up!)
- ¡Cierra el hocico! (Shut your muzzle!)
- ¡Maldito/a sea! (Damn it!)
- ¡Vete al diablo! (Go to hell!)
- ¡Vete pa’l carajo! (Go to hell!)
- ¿Qué diablos te pasa? (What the hell is wrong with you?)
- Dar asco a (to be disgusting to), e.g., ¡Me das asco! (You disgust me!)
- No poder ver a (literally, to not be able to see; to be unable to stand), e.g.,
- Aquella mujer, ¡no la puedo ver! (That woman, I can’t stand her!)
- Quedar mal a (to let down, to come out looking bad), e.g., El quedó mal a Maritza.(He let Maritza down.)
Verbs aside, most insults take the form of nouns and adjectives. Hoping no one will use them irresponsibly, here are just some of the nasty names and expressions in use. Many can be used as either nouns (n) or adjectives (adj).
Some may be used as exclamations (excl). Remember that to use an adjective or noun to describe someone in Spanish, it is first necessary to decide whether you should use ser or estar, that is, whether or not it is an innate characteristic or a product of circumstances:
- ¡Estás salado! (You’re out of luck!)
- Eres salado. (You’re an unlucky person.)
Note also that the translation of these offenses is approximate. There does not exist a one-on-one relationship to English insults.
- agüevado/a (adj) – bummed out
- agüevazón (n) – a drag
- asqueroso/a (adj) – disgusting
- bocón/a (n, adj) – big/blabbermouth
- bravo/a (adj) – fierce, angry
- bruto/a (n, adj) – brute, stupid
- cabrón/a (n) – (literally, big goat) bastard,
- SOB (extremely vulgar)
- car’e’barro (n) – mud-face
- chanchada (n) – something disgusting
- chancho/a (n) – pig, slob
- chiflado/a (n, adj) – crazy, nuts
- chiva (adj) – (literally, female goat) bad-humored, angry
- chivo (n) – (literally, male goat) gigolo
- chocho/a (n, adj) – crazy, messed up
- chulo/a (n) – ruffian, pimp
- chusma (n) – riffraff
- cochinada (n) – something disgusting
- cochino/a (n, adj) – pig, slob
- cursi (n, adj) – pretentious, silly
- descarado/a (n, adj) – insolent, rude
- desgraciado/a (n, adj) – good-for-nothing
- don Nadie (n) – (literally, “Sir No One”) a nobody
- fiera (n) – hothead
- fisgón/a (n, adj) – snoop, busybody
- furris (adj) – horrible, ugly
- grosero/a (n, adj) – crude, rude
- hijo de perra (n) – SOB
- jueputa (n, excl) – (variation of hijo de puta) SOB
- loco de remate (adj) – crazy as a loon
- majadero/a (n, adj) – bossy, demanding, pain in the neck
- mala ficha (n) – delinquent
- mala gente – bad person
- maldito/a (n, adj) – damned
- mandinga (n) – sissy
- menso/a (n, adj) – stupid
- muerto/a de hambre (n) – an opportunist, a person who tries to take everything for himself
- mujeriego (n) – womanizer
- mujerzuela (n) – whore, slut
- necio/a (n, adj) – stupid
- pachuco/a (n, adj) – street person
- patán (n) – thug
- pendejo/a (n, adj) – jerk
- perra (n) – (female dog) bitch
- perro (n) – (male dog) womanizer
- pillo (n) – scoundrel
- pinta (n) – scoundrel
- polada (n) – something in bad taste
- polo/a (n, adj) – uncouth, hick
- porquería (n) – something disgusting
- puta (n, adj) – whore, slut
- rudo/a (n, adj) – coarse
- sanguijuela (n) – leech
- sinvergüenza (n) – (literally, without shame) SOB
- soberbio/a (n, adj) – arrogant
- tontería (n) – stupid thing
- tonto/a (n, adj) – stupid
- tortero/a (n, adj) – goof-up, screw-off
- viejo verde (n) – dirty old man
- yuyo (n) – (literally, foot fungus) pain in the neck
- zaguate (n) – (literally, mongrel) womanizer
- zorra (n) – (female fox) a fast woman
- Some exclamations:
- ¡Carajo! – Damn it!
- ¡Demonios! – Damn it!
- ¡Diablos! – Damn it!
- ¡Jueputa! – Damn it!
- ¡Maldición! – Damn it!
- ¡Patrañas! – BS!
- ¡Qué asco! – How disgusting!
- ¡Rayos! – Damn it!
These are certainly not all of them, but they are enough! Next time, we’ll look instead at terms of endearment.