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19 Dirty Spanish Words You Thought Were Harmless

19 Dirty Spanish Words You Thought Were Harmless

Why are they laughing at me? What the heck did I just say?

If you’ve travelled to a Spanish-speaking country, without learning how to speak Spanish, then you’ve experienced the embarrasement that comes with saying the wrong Spanish word. Especially if it’s a dirty one!

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    All languages come with their own words that have an “alternative” interpretation to native speakers, and it’s often these humorous words that bring us close together.

    Learn them all, and you’ll be in “the know” next time you get laughed at while speaking Spanish. Heck, you might even start laughing when other people say them—and that’s when you officially know you’re a Spanish speaker rather than a Spanish student.

    1. Sapo

    Clean meaning: Toad

    Dirty meaning: A lady’s hoo-ha

    This one is number one of my list, because I’ve had people laugh at me when actually speaking about toads in the context of ongoing biological research.

    There’s no way to avoid the crassness, no matter your context or technically perfect Spanish. If you’re not speaking to biologists, maybe you could pretend you only know the word for frog (rana). I say you tackle this head on, though. No fear. Make the scientific community (and me) proud by unabashedly using precise language regardless of the consequences.

    2. Concha

    Clean meaning: Seashell

    Dirty meaning: Map of Tasmania

    If you didn’t know that Tasmania is shaped like that, now you do—forever. You’re welcome. This word makes appearances in many explicit phrases used to curse people out, such as “¡Concha [de] tu madre!” and the weirder “¡Concha [de] la lora!”

    3. Perra

    Clean meaning: Female dog

    Dirty meaning: Floozie

    This darn gendered language seems like it’s designed to cause these problems on purpose. You automatically have to define a dog as a male or female dog when speaking, either a perro or perra.

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    In English, we have our own vulgar word that technically means “female dog” but is almost never used for that reason. Spanish uses “female dog” for another insult, namely “a woman of loose morals” or “a loose woman who’s had many lovers.”

    4. Comerse

    Clean meaning: To eat (reflexive)

    Dirty meaning: To do the deed

    This one caused my personal, all-time favorite Spanish embarrassment story. While talking to my Ecuadorian homestay family about a Spanish class assignment involving “La caperucita roja,” I did a metaphorical faceplant after talking about how the wolf eats the grandmother. Talk about reinventing classic stories. I will never forget the sound of eight Quiteños laughing hysterically at my Spanish blunder.

    5. Rica

    Clean meaning: Wealthy (when referring to people), delicious (when referring to food)

    Dirty meaning: Delicious (when referring to people)

    You can make a similar mistake if you’re still confusing ser and estar and want to describe someone as “a good person.” If you say that “Ella está buena” instead of “Ella es buena,” look out for some raised eyebrows—you just said that “She’s a hot piece of tail,” not that “She’s a good human being.”

    6. Culo vs. Nalga vs. Trasero

    Clean meaning: Butt

    Dirty meaning: Butt

    Okay, the dirtiness here is caused by a common mix-up between the two words listed above. Culo is a raunchy word that impressionable Spanish learners often pick up by listening to too much reggaeton.

    Nalga is a more benign word which means something akin to “butt,” “butt cheeks” when plural and “lil’ butt cheeks” when phrased more diminutively as nalguitas—but despite being more anatomical it’s still moderately crude.

    Stick with trasero, which comes out sounding more like the English “behind,” and you’ll be polite in anyone’s company.

    7. Grasa

    Clean meaning: Fat, oil

    Dirty meaning: Fat

    Again, this is another case of word mix-ups. You may have learned that grasa technically means fat, but that doesn’t mean you should refer to your own body fat or someone’s else’s that way. Instead say, “Tengo unas libras de más” (I have a few extra pounds), rather than pointing to yourself and talking about nasty, greasy lard.

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    8. Huevos

    Clean meaning: Eggs

    Dirty meaning: The two amigos

    You can always use huevitos if you want to make sure you don’t bungle this one up. In some countries—I myself am only aware of this happening in parts of Mexico—some native speakers defer to blancos when they’re discussing eggs.

    9. Pelotas

    Clean meaning: Smaller balls (as opposed to balón or bola which refer to a larger ball) used in sporting events

    Dirty meaning: The two amigos

    You may be talking about tennis equipment, but this will never not be funny.

    10. Bolas

    Clean meaning: General ball-shaped items, balls used for sporting events, edible balls of food

    Dirty meaning: The two amigos

    There is no Spanish word for sports-related balls that isn’t funny. Sorry. This particular word is twice as bad because you can also eat bolas in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Suddenly, “¿Qué comiste hoy en el almuerzo?” becomes a dangerous question.

    11. Chorizo

    Clean meaning: Sausage

    Dirty meaning: Exactly what you think it means

    Your home country doesn’t matter—it’s part of human nature to identify vaguely phallic-shaped items and laugh at them. We all know what a sausage looks like, and we all know what that word can mean in the right (or wrong) context.

    12. Pechuga vs. Pecho

    Clean meaning: Chicken breast/human chest, human breast

    Dirty meaning: Breasts

    Let’s clear all this up right away: Pechuga is for talking about chicken breasts and pecho is a more technical term for a human chest. Pecho can be used when speaking about medical issues, physical fitness, breastfeeding and any other usual topic of conversation.

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    Pechuga, when used in reference to a person, conveys that you think of that person as a slab of meat. Pecho, used when talking about meat, conveys that you don’t know how to speak Spanish.

    You don’t always want to say pecho when talking about people (or yourself), since that can be awkward if you’re in the midst of a girls’ night out or something. If you actually want to talk casually about boobies (and not the blue-footed kind) with friends, in Ecuador you can use chichis in a playful sense and avoid sounding totally awkward.

    13. Bolsa

    Clean meaning: Bag, shopping bag, sack

    Dirty meaning: Sack

    Say funda instead, for the love of God.

    14. Pájaro/Pajarito

    Clean meaning: Bird, little bird

    Dirty meaning: Homosexual (offensive)

    This totally innocent word becomes an offensive slur when used in the wrong country. In many places, ave sounds heavy, awkward or is simply less-commonly used, and that’s where you’ll want to use pájaro to talk about our winged, flying friends.

    In other regions, namely the Caribbean and perhaps a few others, you should only ever use ave. Pay attention when people speak or ask your hosts if you’re unsure! Honestly, you can never go very wrong with ave, so it’s the safe choice no matter where you are.

    15. Ganas

    Clean meaning: Desire, urge; to have the desire or urge to do something

    Dirty meaning: Animal urges (ahem)

    Sure, you can say “Tengo ganas de comer una hamburguesa enorme” (I feel like eating an enormous hamburger), but don’t pause after “Tengo ganas.” If your conversation exchange partner thinks the sentence ends there, funny looks will abound.

    16. Coger

    Clean meaning: To grab

    Dirty meaning: To do the deed

    In many countries and contexts, this verb is A-OK. The internet will expressly forbid you from using it in most Latin American countries, but Ecuadorians and Colombians (citizens of countries that are supposed to only know of the dirtycoger usage) can be heard innocently saying things like “Voy a coger un taxi” (I’m going to take a taxi) all day long.

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    It’s pretty much a toss up when you’ll get someone snickering at you for using it, no matter where in the world you are—though I’ve heard the word is actually off limits in Chile and Peru, so you might want to ask when you arrive at your Spanish-speaking destination.

    17. Me cago vs. me caigo

    Clean meaning: I fall (me caigo – caerse)

    Dirty meaning: I sh*t myself (me cago – cagarse)

    Even if you’re not clumsy and falling down all the time, me cago is a great phrase to have on hand, particularly for the expression “Me cago de [la] risa,” which is roughly equivalent to ROFL. You may also want to describe how you’re falling in love with “Me cago en el amor.” Now, these phrases come from the irregular (and seriously vulgar in every possible context) verb cagarse, not caerse (to fall).

    Beginning Spanish language learners have been known to accidentally mix these up or simply mis-conjugate or mispronounce their intended verb. Urban Dictionary can’t even tell the difference between these phrases, which shows you just how deep this goes.

    Even if you always say “Me caigo” perfectly, you may well have immature jokesters play off your words, twist your words around for jokes at your expense or chuckle at you de la nada.

    18. Vaina

    Clean meaning: Thing

    Dirty meaning: Thang

    This is possibly the most frequently-used word in the Dominican Republic. Absolutely everything is a vaina, so leave cosa behind once you’ve set foot on Dominican soil. Since everything can be a vaina, it’s no small wonder that it can be used to casually refer to one’s private parts—mostly for ladies.

    You’ll get some giggles if you say this one with misplaced emphasis, silly context where it could be somehow construed sexually or if everyone has had enough Presidentes (popular brand of Dominican cerveza nacional) that night.

    19. Estoy caliente

    Clean meaning: There is no clean meaning, this is just an all-around sexual thing to say—but lots of Spanish learners say it.

    Dirty meaning: I’m hot/smokin’/feeling quiggly

    Classic. The ol’ “Estoy caliente” instead of “Tengo calor” switcharoo. Many Spanish learners have fallen to this phrase before you, and it never fails to elicit a sidelong glance or giggle from native conversation partners. You were trying to say that you feel hot due to the current temperature or climate, and instead you boasted about your hot bod or eagerness for intimate encounters.”

    Where to go from here?

    You can always learn more Spanish words by checking out free Spanish classes online, using Memrise to memorize more words, or working with a private Spanish coach on websites like Rype.

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    Last Updated on February 20, 2019

    How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

    How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

    Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

    Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

    Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

    Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

    What is Effective Communication?

    Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

    Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

    It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

    Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

    Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

    Are You a Poor Communicator?

    Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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    If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

    • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
    • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
    • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
    • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
    • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
    • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
    • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
    • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

    What Effective Communication Can Do For You

    Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

    Work

    • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
    • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
    • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
    • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
    • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
    • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

    Personal relationships

    • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
    • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
    • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
    • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
    • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
    • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

    Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

    The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

    Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

    If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

    On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

    Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

    How to Master Effective Communication Skills

    In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

    1. Learn how to listen

    Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

    Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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    2. Make eye contact

    Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

    Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

    3. Ask questions

    When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

    Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

    4. Watch body language

    Watch both yours and the other persons.

    We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

    On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

    Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

    5. Speak confidently

    Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

    It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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    These tips will help you speak more confidently.

    6. Keep it simple

    You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

    That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

    7. Know your audience

    You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

    Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

    8. Be empathetic and understanding

    There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

    Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

    Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

    9. Pause before reacting

    There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

    When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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    10. Over communicate

    You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

    I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

    Conclusion

    Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

    At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

    Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

    At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

    You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

    Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

    More Resources About Work Communication

    Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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