Lost in Translation: 9 Truly Unique Spanish Words

Flamenco dancer
Flamenco dancer | © 691806/Pixabay
Tara Jessop

Ever tried to describe something you just couldn’t find the right word for? Well, it may be the case 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.

‘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!

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.


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.


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


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


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 …


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.


Perhaps a testimony to the importance of family relations, consuegro is a word which refers specifically to the relationship between the in-laws of a couple. As in any country or language, it can be good or bad.
Interested in more Spanish phrases? Read our guide to hilarious Spanish swear words.

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