Sunday 9 May 2021

Amazing spanish words that don’t exist in English

Uniquely Untranslatable Spanish Words You’ve Gotta Know!

Amazing words that don’t exist in English — but really should. There are a lot of terms missing from the English dictionary that perfectly describe many common aspects of everyday life.

From very specific emotions to awkward situations, the Spanish language can describe certain scenarios we’ve all experienced perfectly, while the English vocabulary falls short.


Example, “estrenar” a new car

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This word is commonly used in Spanish. “Estrenar” describes wearing something for the very first time.

Pena ajena

“Pena ajena” means “to be embarrassed for someone.” Have you ever seen someone wear or do something embarrassing and you feel a pang of shame for that person? Well, in Spanish there’s a way to describe that feeling. “Pena ajena” or “Verguenza ajena” is a phrase used to describe the feeling of shame/embarrassment for someone else, whether or not they feel embarrassed


“Desvelado” is a way to describe your inability to sleep or sleep deprivation or unable to sleep. Literally, it could translate to “I haven’t been able to get much sleep.”


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Have you ever used the phrase “I get cold easily” to explain why the heater is one at all times? Well, “Friolento” or “Friolero” is a Spanish word used to describe someone who is sensitive to cold.

Te Quiero

“I care for you but I don’t love you”

“Te quiero” literally translates to “I want you”.  However, it doesn’t mean that at all; it is actually used to say “I care for you but I don’t love you”.  It’s more meaningful than saying “I like you,” but less meaningful than saying “I love you.”

If this word existed in English it would be the perfect way to tell your new partner that you really care for them, but aren’t quite in love with them yet. Or it could also be a casual way to express endearment for friends and family.


“Madrugar” is used to describe the act of getting up early or to get a head start. While there are phrases you can use to translate that word. There is no single-word translation for that act.


“Anteayer” is a one-word way of saying, “the day before yesterday.” The English equivalent is a rather uninspiring day before yesterday. Anteayer is short, it’s crisp, and it rolls off the tongue.

Buen Provecho

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“Buen provecho” is a commonly used phrase to tell someone to enjoy their meal or to wish them good eating. Many people have probably heard, or even used, the french version “Bon appétit.” Nonetheless, there is no common phrase that expresses the exact sentiment in English.


This sounds like an amalgam of amigo, meaning friend, and novio, meaning boyfriend. And that’s because it is. This alone should give you a fair idea of what the word means. Amigonovio is one of the Spanish words with no English translation, not a one-word translation anyway.

The word refers to someone you’re just friends with but also don’t mind sleeping with, something usually reserved for steady couples. So it’s more than a friend but not yet a boyfriend.


“Morbo” sounds like morbid, and that should be an easy hint to what the word actually means. Then how come morbo figures in a list of Spanish words with no English translation? That’s because morbid is just a hint, not the actual meaning. Morbo more accurately translates into morbid fascination. Think unhealthy interests. Or anything that immediately makes you look or sound like a freak.


Besides referring to a bridge on a road for example, “Puente” also refers to a very different kind of bridge, a long or extended weekend. For example, when Thursday is a holiday and you take off Friday to bridge the holiday to the weekend, or, likewise, when Tuesday is a holiday and you take off Monday to extend your weekend. Or, in some cases it simply a long weekend. Can you think of a one-word equivalent to this one in English?


Quince is Spanish for fifteen. Quincena is fifteen of anything but more specifically, it refers to a period of fifteen days. And it has no English counterpart. Thus “Quincena” refers to salary. More specifically, one that comes twice a month on the 15th and 30th of each month.

Salary, by the way, is “salario” in Spanish. If you’re talking wages, that would be “sueldo”.


“Trasnochar” can be translated as to stay up late or to stay up all night in English, and it doesn’t have to be used only to describe staying up late to finish laborious school essays; you can use it even if you plan on staying up for fun, like an all night outing!


“Concuñado” is the husband of your spouse’s sister or the husband of your sister-in-law. If your wife has a brother, his wife is your concuñada. Or if your husband has a sister, her hubby is your concuñado. The word comes from cuñado which is Spanish for brother-in-law. Con is Spanish for with; so think of the prefix con- as such. So concuñado is someone who comes with your cuñado. For example, your wife’s sister is your cuñada; her husband comes with her, so he’s your concuñado. Makes sense now?


“Madrugar “describes the act of waking up in the early morning, usually before sunrise. Just as trasnochar has the word noche (or night) in it, madrugar, contains the word madrugada (meaning dawn or early morning).


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We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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