Castellano vs español

What’s the difference between castellano and español? Which one should I use?

Short answer: both are correct, both mean the same language. Sí, no, gracias, por favor, etc.

Long answer: Spain is a country. español,-a is someone/something that comes from Spain. The origin of the Spanish language can be located in the old kingdom of Castile. There are other Spanish languages: Catalan, Basque and Galician (official, together with Castillian), and Asturian, Aragonese and Occitan. They are Spanish languages, so… españoles. But other languages . So it is political, and it might hurt some feelings depending on how you talk about it. You shouldn’t care. (more on this later)
Latin America speaks the same language, but it is not Spain. Some say they speak castellano (‘we are not a colony anymore!’), some say they speak español.(don’t care about thinking about the name of the language or history or they/we might have our own reasons).

About hurting sensitivities: How would you call someone from Europe? European. Someone from Asia? Asian. Someone from Africa? African. Around 965 million of people and me were born in the Americas, also known as America. How are we called? Latin Americans, Latinos, Canadians… What about people from Guyana? They are not Latin. Yes, the United States are a big, powerful country, but they are not the whole fuckin’ continent. Does it hurt? To me, a bit, but I don’t want to go through the pain of remanding everybody that we exist, and I assume that nobody is trying to deny that we exist on purpose. I can live with this, it’s okay. I also actively try to be kind and not to hurt other people’s feelings, but some people will be hurt no matter what, and that is their choice.



Un pelito (a little hair)

Pendejo se usa mucho en México, para decir idiota, estúpido, dumbass, y en Argentina/Uruguay para hablar de una persona muy joven o inmadura.

Mi vecino es un pendejo, pone la música a todo volumen. ME
My neighbor is an idiot, he plays music very loud.
Te estás comportando como un pendejo, madurá un poquito. AR/URU
You’re behaving like a child, be a bit more mature.

Pendejada, algo típico de un pendejo. Actitud inmadura, cobarde, estúpida. En palabras de Forest Gump: “Pendejo es, el que pendejadas hace”.
“Casarse es una pendejada” – Marriage is bullshit.- (Serie: ‘Sobrevivir como soltero’ , ep.1)

Lo curioso es el origen de la palabra. Pendejo también es el nombre del vello púbico (pubic hair).

1) ¿Existe la palabra ‘pendejo’ en tu país? ¿Qué signifca?
2) Escribe 2 ejemplos con la palabra ‘pendejo’.
3) ¿Cómo crees que ‘pendejo’ se convirtió de ‘pubic hair’ a ‘idiota’ o ‘inmaduro’? (responder en español, inglés, o en tu idioma)

Estar metido en la mierda

And it’s other versions: ‘estar de mierda hasta el cuello‘, or, ‘estar en la mierda‘ means to be in deep shit. Just picture someone’s soul swimming in shit. In the circles I move, that means to have too much urgent work to do. I imagine that in darker places might need to be in trouble.

AstraZeneca está de mierda hasta el cuello. Todos el mundo quiere comprar vacunas, y ellos no pueden ni siquiera entregar a tiempo lo que tenían apalabrado. AstraZeneca is in deep chit. Everybody wants to buy vaccines, and they can’t even deliver on time what they have promised.

No caberle a alguien en la cabeza

Language Level: advanced
Swearing Degree: none, you can say it in front of your boss
Structure: no + me/te/le/nos/os/les + caber (conjugated) + en la cabeza que + subjuntive

caber means to fit, in the sense of to fit inside of something else. The verb is so irregular that sometimes natives have problems with the conjugation. A conversation with caber in the preterit is uncommon.

presente p. indefinidop.imperfecto

Este pantalón no me cabe, necesito un talle más grandeI don’t fit inside of this pant, I need a bigger size. It doesn’t mean that the fit is bad, or it doesn’t suit you: it means that the waist of the pant won’t go up your hips.

Somos nueve, no cabemos todos en el coche’ we are nine people, we don’t fit all inside the car.

When we say ‘no me cabe en la cabeza’ (it doesn’t fit in my head) we are talking about a concept so foreign to us that is unacceptable. We don’t understand.

No me cabe en la cabeza que me haya dejado por ese idiota. I don’t understand that she has left me for that idiot.
No me cabe en la cabeza que los guiris separen la cuenta. I don’t understand that foreigners separate the bill (instead of sharing it).
No me cabe en la cabeza que a ella le guste Nickelback. I don’t understand that she likes Nickelback.

guiri: in Spain, foreigner that is not a Spanish-speaker native. Does it have negative connotations? It depends on the intention of the speaker, like everything.

xxx de mierda

On the bright side, you can use this insult in anybody / anything. It’s quite popular among racists an xenophobic. In the miniseries Alguien tiene que morir they say ‘mexicanos de mierda‘, but you can use it with any nationality, race, sexual inclination. I feel the need to write examples because I wouldn’t like to leave the poor Mexicans there being insulted without company.

uruguayos de mierda’, ‘españoles de mierda’, ‘gringos de mierda’, ‘putos de mierda’, ‘putas de mierda’, ‘blancos de mierda’, ‘negros de mierda’. There. And if you are frustrated because the tv doesn’t work, or they are showing a shitty movie, don’t be shy: ‘tele de mierda’. You’d be wrong, though. Humans and animals are full of shit, appliances are full of plastic and cables and things that I don’t understand. Appliances don’t have a digestive system.

That’s why I don’t like this insult. Somebody shouts at me ‘sudaca de mierda’, and expects me to feel insulted? Yes, I’m South American, and I’m full of shit. I’m a mammal. What, Europeans don’t go toilet? And guess what they do there… yes! they take a shit! The shit was inside before. So, they are full of shit also. We are all.

The only thing that is sure is that the aggressor lacks imagination and a valid ground for insulting.

Ser un aborto del diablo

OMG! I just remembered this one, and I’m overexcited. What an insult. I don’t like that is so superficial: it means “to be ugly as hell / to be incredibly ugly”, but anyway.

el aborto: miscarriage
el diablo: Satan

I haven’t heard it in a long time, I don’t know if it’s falling into disuse, or it’s only for cultured insulting. A quick Google search threw me into post comments of angry people.

For example: “No vales nada, eres un aborto del diablo”. So much hate. Very angry. ‘You’re not worth anything, you’re Satan’s abortion’.
Let’s take a moment to remember that this is a linguistic research. Hate is ugly to receive, but the one that loses the most is the one that does the hate. You could be in YouTube, wasting your life pleasantly, watching dog videos, but no, you are in the comment section of whatever site fighting someone you know nothing about.

¿Qué cojones haces aquí?

(Seen in ‘El desorden que dejas‘, episode 1)

A man rings the bell. When nobody opens the door, he tries to get in, using his own key. A woman, inside, makes it in time to block his access. They know each other.

¿Qué cojones haces aquí?“, she shouts at him. Translated literally; ‘What testicles are you doing here?‘. But if we could translate this to English, we would say something like ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’. Just that in Spanish, we don’t do fuck, we do cojones, among other things, because only doing fuck is boring and un-creative.


I only feel deeply offended when someone insults me with a truth, or something I believe is the truth. “Te estás poniendo gorda”, “te estás poniendo vieja”, “loca como tu madre”, maybe they hit home. And yet I’m pretty sure they are not obscenities. By definition, an obscenity is an “extremely offensive word or expression”. Since 2019 people get offended really really easy. Being confrontational or sincere equals to be insensitive. If I tell to someone “tienes que usar desodorante”, they will likely get offended, extremely. Hurt. I’ll be accused of “cultural insensitivity”. But they are not ‘bad words”. Now, if I say “mierda, coño, polla, tetas”, that is swearing. And yet they are just words, I don’t know why they scare us so much, or alarm us so much. They don’t hurt.

Probably these ones in particular provoke an unwanted mental image. “Muerte, hambruna, guerra” are also ugly realities, but are not improprieties. It’s a mystery to me. I can understand what I shouldn’t say in front of children, but I don’t know why.

¿Any ideas?

te estás poniendo gorda: you’re getting fat (f)
te estás poniendo vieja: you’re getting old (f) –> it is true, but it doesn’t really offend me.
loca como tu madre: you’re crazy like your mother
tienes que usar desodorante: you need to use deodorant
la mierda: excrements, shit
el coño: (ES) a woman’s genitals, not as strong word as ‘cunt’ but stronger than ‘pussy’
la polla: (ES) a man’s genitals, dick
las tetas: breasts
la muerte: death
la hambruna: famine
la guerra: war

I just noticed that ‘coño’ is a masculine word and ‘polla’ is a feminine word. It makes no sense. I’ll have to do some research.

Photo by Alexandru Rotariu on

Everything started with the word ‘culo’

I am Angela and I love words. I teach Spanish online for a living, I learn languages as a hobby.

The thing with Spanish is that it is used across a vast territory, and in different countries we use it differently, or very differently. I’ve lived in Uruguay, Argentina and Spain. Some words are used in everyday life in Spain are vulgar in Uruguay and Argentina, and viceversa. When I moved from Uruguay to Spain, I was in a bad place mentally (I also used to be a bit of a prude) and swore to myself I’d never use the word ‘culo’.

In Latin America we say ‘trasero’, ‘cola’, ‘asentaderas’, or whatever we need, in order to not to say ‘culo’. You only hear ‘culo’ together with the words ‘romper’, ‘roto’, ‘gordo’, ‘sucio’, or in the expression ‘tiene el culo lleno de papelitos’. ‘Culo’ is a bad word there. So, I moved to Spain, and in the aquaerobics class the instructor said that we had to ‘mover el culo’. The doctors call it ‘culo’. There was no way around it. Everybody said ‘culo’. It wasn’t a bad word. I gave in, and started to have ‘dolor de culo’ if I sat for too long, or went to a spinning class. From there everything went better. I’ve got interested in the different ways that Spanish people insult and swear, and talk.

We have such a rich way to express our frustration (‘me cago en la mar’, Spain), our joy (‘me partí polla de risa’, Canary Islands, Spain), our anger (‘la concha de tu hermana’, Uruguay, Argentina). I love the subject, honestly. Every time I teach my students to swear we have such a great time. I intend to deeply research it and interview natives from different countries, and expand my insulting and swearing knowledge into more languages. I intend to write about it and share it with the world. Not only swearing and vulgar insults, but smart, acid insults are also beautiful. Things like ‘if you are planning to keep talking about your boring stuff, please let me know so I can harakiri’. Then I will get famous and publish a book, and finally do what we all want: have passive income. Also, famous writers usually also enjoy a ‘normal’ life, without bothering paparazzi, so I could also be famous. People would recognize my name and say that I pretend to talk several languages but probably is not true. Sponsors will offer me deals and I’ll succumb to corruption for a box of cookies or something else, very cheap.

But truth be told, I am not so stable about my goals. Let’s see what happens. In any case, I will publish ‘cunt’, ‘puta’ and ‘cojones’, in the name of linguistics and I’ll have a little chuckle alone about it.

I plan to make mistakes in every language, but English is not my first language, so please, when you find a mistake, let me know. I don’t want to pay Grammarly.