Uff, mi gente… we Mexicans know how to swear! Most of the time we swear on your mother or we compare you with an animal… or just like in English, mention certain body parts…
However, as a non-native speaker, you need to be careful… because you might think you’re just friendly-teasing someone, but they feel insulted and look at you like:
- ¿Qué? ¿Qué dijiste? ¿Qué dijiste sobre mi mamá? ¡A ver, repítemelo! ¡A ver si muy salsa! (What? What did you say about my mother? Repeat it if you’re so “salsa”!)
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, in this article I’ll give you 10 harmless Spanish curse words. The Mexican equivalents of “darn it” and other words that help you avoid saying the really bad words you’re secretly thinking.
Let me show you when and how to use them through a story that almost ended in violence, involving a forgetful roommate, an angry waste collector, and a really big misunderstanding.
I. Chirriones: a Spanish curse word for anger and disappointment
It all started when you did your spring-cleaning and you ended up with 300 bags of trash… So, here you are with your bags of trash and you go complain about it to your roommate…
- ROOMMATE 1:Tengo un montón de basura que sacar. (I have a lot of garbage to take out.)
- ROOMMATE 2:¡Uy! ¿No oíste? Acaba de pasar el camión de la basura ahorita. (Oh! Didn’t you hear? The garbage truck just passed by?)
- ROOMMATE 1:¡Chirriones! (Chirriones!)
When saying ¡Chirriones! we really want to say ¡Chinga!, an interjection to express emotions in Spanish, especially anger and disappointment.
II. Abuelita: a funny Spanish curse word
You’re determined to take the trash out today! So, you carry your 300 bags, plus all the other house garbage… You got rid of the trash… we’re super proud of ourselves and our friend asks:
- ROOMMATE 2:¿Alcanzaste al camión de la basura? (Did you catch the garbage truck?)
- ROOMMATE 1:¡Abuelita que lo alcancé! (“Abuelita” did I catch it!)
By saying abuelita, which translates as “granny” or “grandma“, you’re really saying: Of Course! We really would say something that literally translates as “at egg”, but don’t say it. It’s vulgar…
III. No manches: cursing in disbelief or disappointment
Now, your friend looks a bit weird. They’re looking for something. They’re looking anxious:
- ROOMMATE 1:Oye, ¿has visto una bolsa de IKEA? (Hey.! Have you seen an IKEA bag?)
- ROOMMATE 2:¿Dónde? (Where?)
- ROOMMATE 1:Estaba por ahí; estaba cerca de la puerta… (It was here, very close to the door.)
- ROOMMATE 2:¡Ay! ¡Creo que me la llevé a la basura! (Oh! I think I might have taken it to the trash!)
- ROOMMATE 1:¡No manches! ¡Es que ahí estaba mi ropa del gimnasio y una bocinita! (Don’t stain! I had my gym clothes and a little speaker there!)
¡No manches! (Literally, don’t stain!) means “no way”, so it may also be used to express:
- ROOMMATE 1:¡Ay, no matches! (Are you serious?!)
- ROOMMATE 2:¡Perdón, no me di cuenta! ¡Qué mensa soy! ¡Es que estaba justo al lado de la basura! (I’m sorry, I didn’t realize! I’m so dumb! It was just right next to the trash!)
- ROOMATE 1:¡Ay, no manches! ¡Mi bocinita! ¿Crees que esté muy lejos el camión? (Are you serious?! My little speaker! Do you think the garbage truck is very far?)
- ROOMMATE 2:Está estacionado como a cuatro cuadras. ¡Córrele! ¡Ándale! Vamos a ver si todavía están. Acuérdate de que abren las bolsas y capaz que sí vieron tu bocinita. (It’s parked like four blocks away. Come on! Hurry up! Let’s see if they are still there. Remember they open the bags, so maybe they actually saw your little speaker.)
Did you notice the word “mensa”? Fun fact: MENSA is the acronym for an association for people with high IQs, but in Mexico… This just means “dumb”.
And yeah! Unfortunately, in Mexico City, separating garbage is still not the norm, so the people who collect trash actually open the bags and separate it themselves…
IV. Pinche: a lighter Spanish curse word when you’re angry
You and your friend run. You spot the garbage truck. Behold!!! What do you see? That big, fat. yellow IKEA bag! It’s still there! But wait… It’s being opened! You see the guy grabbing something out of the bag… Could that be?
- ROOMMATE 1:¡No! ¡Oiga, no! ¡Eso es mío! (No! Hey, no! That’s mine!)
The waste collector looks at you de los pies a la cabeza (from head to toe)… You compose yourself and explain:
- ROOMMATE 2:¡Disculpe! ¡Disculpe! Es que, por tonta, ¡se me fue una bolsa con ropa deportiva y una bocinita a la basura! Es esa bolsa que acaba de abrir. (Excuse me! Excuse me! I, being stupid, threw away some sports clothes and a little speaker into the trash. It’s that bag that you just opened.)
- WASTE COLLECTOR:No, no había nada, no. (No, no, there wasn’t anything, no.)
- ROOMMATE 2:No, ¡en serio! Mire, le juro que sí había. Si yo lo acabo de ver… (No, really! Look, I swear it was there! I just saw it.)
- WASTE COLLECTOR:¡Uy, no señorita! Pues, mire, si quiere búsquele, pero ya está todo bien pinche revuelto. No creo que vaya a encontrar nada. (Oh, no, miss! Well, if you want you can look, but everything has been darn mixed and I don’t think you will find anything.)
- ROOMMATE 2:Oiga, pero yo creo que vi que usted… (Hey, but I think I saw that you…)
- WASTE COLLECTOR:No, señorita, ¡ya fue! ¡Mejor olvídelo! (No, miss, it’s gone! Better forget about it.)
Por tonta (Because I’m stupid)… yeah!!! And also… pay attention to:
- Ya está todo bien pinche revuelto. (It’s all DARN mixed.)
If you search the term pinche in a Spanish dictionary, it will say “kitchen helper”, but we use it like DARN…
- pinches políticos (darn politicians)
- pinche gobierno (darn government)
- pinches impuestos (darn taxes)
- pinche chamaco (darn kid)
V. Hijo de la tostada: instead of saying the true bad word!
Alright! So, you know better than picking up a fight with that man… You have some street credit, but not nearly as much as him! Left without any other choice, you sadly capitulate.
You’re terribly sorry and apologize profusely to your friend, who actually witnessed the whole thing in disbelief. Your friend is disappointed for losing their stuff.
- ROOMMATE 2:¡Perdón, perdón! Te juro que para nada me di cuenta. ¡Lo siento mucho! (Sorry, sorry! I swear I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry!)
- ROOMMATE 1:¡Ay, no! ¡No te preocupes! No fue tu culpa. En todo caso, fue culpa de ese hijo de la tostada, del de la basura, que agarró la bocinita, y no nos la quiso devolved. (Oh, no! Don’t worry! It was not your fault. In any case, it was that son of the tostada that took the little speaker and wouldn’t give it back.)
We say “son of the tostada” instead of saying the real bad word! And actually, I said PINCHE hijo de la tostada!
But wait! You weren’t that far away from the garbage truck and they heard you! Oh, no!!! All of a sudden, the man approaches… you don’t know what to do! Your friend is as surprised as you are and…
VI. Vértebras: a Spanish euphemism
¡¡¡¡¡VÉEEEEEEEERTEBRAS!!!!! (Vertebrae!!!!) El señor de la basura empuja violentamente a tu amigo (The waste collector pushes your friend violently) and you don’t know what to say…
The other guys from the truck gather, trying to stop things from escalating… Your friend is seriously mad! He’s scary to look at right now! And all of a sudden, a happy jazzy song starts playing…
Everyone looks around trying to see where the music is coming from… Uh, uh! It’s coming from your friend’s car… La bocinita (The little speaker) was always there….
- WASTE COLLECTOR:¿Ya vio, señorita? Dígale a su amigo que tenga más cuidado. ¡Ya casi le parto su mandarina en gajos, y todo por no fijarse! (Did you see, miss? Tell your friend to be more careful. I almost slice his mandarine in pieces, and all because he wasn’t careful!)
We use the word vértebras, or others starting with VER, instead of saying the actual words that alludes to a part of the male anatomy.
¡Ojo! (Careful!) In México, people will know what you mean! It’s the PG13 version of the actual word, but it’s still a bit loaded. So, use vértebras or verde at your own risk to convey surprise in a cheeky way if you’re hanging out with your Mexican friends and you want to surprise them with this insider’s piece of knowledge.
- ¡Verde! (Green!)
And now, let’s examine what the guy said a bit closer:
- Casi le parto su mandarina en gajos (I almost slice his mandarine in pieces)
This phrase is an eufemismo for an insult that involves doing something to someone’s mother.
Uff! Narrowly avoided a fight there!
¡Qué miedo! (How scary!) But what if the tables turn… and someone is actually insulting you? Then, you need to read this piece to learn four ways to ask the rude person to shut up in Spanish.
We start with friendly and nice ways, but then it gets really serious if they won’t stop with the insults.
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