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9 Spanish Words You Just Can't Translate To English

Tara Jessop
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Ever tried to describe something you just couldn’t find the right word for? Well, it may be the case that you could have found the right word if you were speaking Spanish! These imaginative Spanish words have no direct equivalent in English – capturing something that seems truly unique in the Spanish language. Learn them today to broaden your lexical horizon!


 

 ‘La Sobremesa’

When the meal is finished, but the conversation is still flowing, stories are told, arguments resolved, rumors spread, friendships strengthened… la sobremesa is in full swing!

Friolero

That person you know whose fingers are blue when yours are just fine, who always needs to wear an extra layer to keep warm… now you know that they are in fact a friolero.

 

 ‘Merendar

When it’s too late for lunch but too early for dinner, when you need a little sweet treat to get you through to the next meal, you need to merendar.

 

 ‘El Botellón

In a country where the sun always seems to shine, el botellón is a popular alternative to gathering in a bar. Instead, every park, square, and beach doubles as a perfect place to gather with friends.

 

Pardo

Ever been undecided as to whether something was brown or grey in color? In Spanish you don’t have to decide, there is in fact a word to describe exactly that which you couldn’t quite name: pardo.

‘Duende’

Quite possibly one of the hardest words of the Spanish language to translate, duende refers to a strong feeling of passion – a powerful emotion often associated with flamenco…

 

‘Enchilar’

The use of chili peppers is so common in Spanish and South American cuisine that the action of adding chili to a dish has actually got its own name : enchilar – to be used with caution!

‘Enmadrarse’

The construction of this Spanish word resembles that of the English verb ‘to enchant’… and describes the action of a child who has developed an extremely strong emotional bond with their mother.

‘Consuegro’

Perhaps a testimony to the importance of family relations, consuegro is a word which refers specifically to the relationship between the parents in-law of a couple. As in any country or language, it can be good or bad…

By Sarah Jakuszeit