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
¡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.