9 Unique Spanish Words That Only Exist in Spanish (With Examples)

Hello friends, I’m Juan and today I’m going to teach you 9 unique Spanish words and phrases that only exist in Spanish … and one of them is a hilarious one we use in my country, so you can start using them yourself in your conversations in Spanish. 

9 Unique Spanish Words That ONLY EXIST IN SPANISH

Yes! We have words for almost everything that exists and some concepts that are just impossible to explain in another language, like our first one:

1. Empalagar (To be overwhelmed by excessive sweetness)

This means that something is so sweet that it’s actually annoying. Also, you know that kind of people that is always giving you compliments or trying to hug you or being too nice?

Well, guess what, you can call them Empalagosos as well:

ACTOR 1
*se come un frasco de dulce de leche* Perdón, ¿quieres más? 
(I’m sorry, do you want another piece?)

ACTOR 2
No gracias. No me quiero empalagar. 
(No, thanks. I don’t want to “empalagar” myself.)

ACTOR 1
¡Hola Juan! Estás muy guapo, ven y dame un abrazo, un beso… 
(Hello Juan! You’re so handsome, come and give me a hug, a kiss…) 

ACTOR 2
Ya deja, no seas empalagoso. ¡No te voy a prestar más plata! 
(Cut it out, don’t be “empalagoso”. I won’t lend you any more money!)

2. Estrenar (To use or wear something for the first time)

Estrenar means to use or wear something for the first time. We latinos even have a tradition of wearing new clothes on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and we call them “los estrenos”.

unique spanish words explained by female teacher

AGENT 
Ché, te va a encantar este departamento que tengo en alquiler. 
(Dude, you’re gonna love this apartment I have for rent.)

JUAN
Genial. Me dijiste que está nuevo, ¿no? 
(Great. You told me it was new, wasn’t it?)

AGENT
¡Sí, obvio! ¡A estrenar! Está un poquito sucio por falta de uso, ¡pero de resto  impecable! ¡Pasá! 
(Yes, of course! Brand new! It’s a little dirty due to the lack of use but besides that it’s impeccable! Go in!)

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3. Vergüenza ajena (Second-hand embarrassment)

Have you ever witnessed a situation so embarrassing that even if it doesn’t have to do anything with you, you feel embarrassed yourself? Well, we Spanish-speaking natives have an expression for it: Verguenza ajena

It means something like embarrassment for the other person or second-hand embarrassment, and you can use this expression in sentences like Cuando vi que el profesor llegó en shorts al podio de la conferencia me dio mucha vergüenza ajena. (When I saw the professor arrived wearing shorts to the conference stage, I felt embarrassed for him).

4. Quincena (Bi-weekly pay)

In the Spanish-speaking jobs world, it’s very common to have your first pay of the month on the 15th, so that half salary you get every 15 days is called “la quincena”.

ACTOR 1
Ugh, estoy cansado de comer esta porquería. ¿Ya habrán pagado la quincena?
(Ugh, I’m tired of eating this crap. Have they paid yet?)

ACTOR 2
No, todavía no. Espera, ¡ya me depositaron! Revisaste tu cuent…
(No, not yet. Wait, they paid me! Did you check your acc…)

ACTOR 1
Sí, a mí también. 
(Yes, they paid me as well.)

5. Tutear (To use the informal “you” pronoun)

Remember we have a formal and informal version of the “you” pronoun? That’s and usted and the use mostly depends on the level of respect or trust you have with your conversation partner. Interesting fact: Germans have an expression for it too, it’s Duzen! So tutear is the action of using the informal you pronoun. This means using instead of usted.

JUAN 1
Yo soy Juan. Mucho gusto
(I’m Juan. Nice to meet you)

JUAN 2
Ah, somos tocayos. Yo también me llamo Juan. Usted se llama como yo. 
(Ah, we are “tocayos”. My name is also Juan. We have the same name.)

JUAN 1
¡Por favor! No me digas “usted”. Si nos llamamos igual, ¡puedes tutearme!
(Please! Don’t use the formal “you” with me. If we’re called the same, you can use the informal you!)

Ok! Vamos a ver si estabas prestando atención: (Let’s see if you were paying attention): ¿Hay alguna otra palabra en la conversación anterior que no entiendas? (Is there another word in the previous conversation that you don’t understand?) You sure? Aha, that’s right: 

6. Tocayo (Someone with the same name)

This is a person that has the same name as you so if your name is Juan, ¡entonces eres mi tocayo! (Then you’re my “tocayo”). Actually, there’s a word in English for it: namesake, but it’s not very common and people wouldn’t use it in the sense that I just showed you.

Do you share your name with any of your family members or friends? Let me know in the comments using the chunk: Es mi tocayo/tocaya like this: Mi tío Juan es mi tocayo. (My uncle Juan is my namesake). I’ll make sure to check them out!

7. & 8.: Trasnochar and madrugar (To stay up late & to get up early)

So for latin culture both work and party are very important. Maybe that’s why we invented these words, as trasnocharse means to stay up late, after midnight and madrugar is the opposite, meaning to get up early, before dawn! Curious, don’t you think?

ACTOR 1
Dale bola, ¿qué te hacés el nerd? ¡Vámonos de fiesta, amigo! 
(Come on, dude! What are you, a nerd? Let’s go party, bro!)

ACTOR 2
Pero, ¿cómo piensas en trasnocharte hoy? ¡Si mañana hay que madrugar para el examen! 
(But how are you thinking about partying until late? We have to get up early tomorrow for the test!)

9. Bonus unique Spanish word: Pecueca (Smelly feet – specific to Venezuelan Spanish)

Y como no podía dejar de darles un poco de cultura venezolana (And because I couldn’t not give you some Venezuelan culture) here’s a bonus word for you. Picture yourself in a hot summer, jogging at noon for a couple of hours. You get home all sweaty, you take your sneakers off and… Boom, pecueca

That’s right: Pecueca is the name we Venezuelans give to that particular smell that comes out of sweaty feet. Así cuídate de la pecueca y lávate los pies después de llegar a casa. (So be wary of feet smell and wash your feet when you get home).

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