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Comebacks and Insults in Spanish – The Art of Spanish Insults

Among some cultural references such as Dalí, García Lorca, Javier Bardem or Futbol Club Barcelona, Spain is also known for being a country in which swearing is very usual. So we’re taking a look at some of the most common comebacks and insults in Spanish.

Spanish and English both share an astounding number of different and creative insults, as well as the capacity (given the way the languages work) to create new ones on the run, always prepared to demolish your enemy with a very specific, fatal blow.

Although there’s always a way to link insults between languages, some of them just can’t be translated in a literal way. That’s part of the uniqueness and magic that swear words hold.

When making your first steps as a connoisseur of this art, it’s all about making choices. Do you want to be swift and wound your opponent without them even perceiving it or, perhaps, would you like to be more like a hammer shattering a fly? One of the best things about insults is the flexibility they offer, so just pick your favourite ones and start looking for archrivals.

Comebacks and Insults in Spanish

Let’s start with the basics: the following words are considered to be the way to go “palabrotas” (bad words in Spanish).

comebacks and insults in spanish
Swearing may not be very sophisticated, but it is still better to fight with words than with weapons — Image by Franz Roos from Pixabay

Spanish Insults

  • Gilipollas
    A classic. “Pollas” means “dicks”. A “gilipollas” is basically a douchebag, someone who is behaving in a stupid way or by being a jerk.
    i.e. – “Alberto le acaba de pegar una patada a mi coche, vaya gilipollas” (“Alberto just kicked my car, what a douchebag”)
  • Imbécil
    This one is frequently utilized as a way to be both flirty and mean. It essentially stands for “moron”, or someone who isn’t the brightest.
    i.e. – “ún me quieres? -Pues claro, imbécil” (“-Do you still love me? -Of course, stupid”)
    As a brief note, there’s a small observation to be made here. As we can see, although every insult so far can be translated, they don’t play the exact same role in sentences or in our life and context. Let’s move on.
  • Hijo de puta
    Definitely a crown jewel of the matter. This could be literally translated as “son of a bitch” and it’s used quite frequently in Spain, over the slightest inconvenience. It’s also commonly said out loud without a subject, as if you were just trying to get the angriness out. Imagine you hit your toe against a piece of furniture. Next time, instead of screaming random gibberish, remember to try this: Hijo de puta!
    On a side note, you can increase the damage of this spell by saying, for example, “Hijo de la gran puta” (“Son of the great bitch”) or “Hijo de la grandísima puta” (“Son of the greatest bitch”, or just a very big bitch in general).
    i.e. – “Le ha tocado la lotería, qué hijo de puta” (“He just won the lottery, what a son of a bitch”)
  • Subnormal
    This one is a bit more tricky or delicate. Not because it results in a complex translation, but rather because it’s considered to be an ableist insult. It means something along the lines of “dimwit” or “simpleton” and was often used in the past as a way to refer to people with Down Syndrome or other mental affections. It is additionally employed as a way to “punish” yourself or others for making a mistake.
    i.e. – “Ugh, la he cagado otra vez, soy subnormal” (“Ugh, I fucked up again, I’m a simpleton)
  • Cabrón
    Another classic among the comebacks and insults in Spanish, literally named after a male sheep (cabra-cabrón). It’s meant to be used when someone is being either annoying or has crossed the line, although most of the time it doesn’t hold as much meaning and is employed in a humorous way. It would be a “dick” or an “idiot” in the sense that they’re people who enjoy bothering others, not because they lack intelligence necessarily.
    i.e. – “Mario me ha llenado los zapatos de mayonesa, qué cabrón” (“Mario has filled my shoes with mayonnaise, what a dick”)

Now, after reviewing the most popular spanish insults, let’s take a look at a couple of common comebacks. After this read, you will be equipped to start a brawl in whatever region of the country you prefer.

insults in spanish
Conflict does not only exist among humans — Image by Sergio Cerrato – Italia from Pixabay

Comebacks in Spanish

  • Me Importa un Pepino
    “I care a cucumber” means as much as “I don’t care.”
  • Vete a Freír Espárragos
    “Go and Fry Asparagus” is definitely one of the more peculiar comebacks and insults in Spanish. It translates as “get lost” or “get stuffed!”
    i.e. “Invítame a una copa.” – “Vete a freír espárragos!” (“Buy me a drink!” – “Get stuffed!”)
  • Tu puta madre
    Similar to hijo de puta (son of a bitch), this one means “your bitchy mother” and is employed when trying to rebound something onto someone else.
    i.e. – “-Eres malísimo jugando a fútbol.” -“Tu puta madre” (“You’re so bad at soccer” – “Your bitchy mother”)
  • Los cojones
    Cojones is a really standard word in Spain, used to refer to the testicles (ordinarily involving some cursing). This comeback is employed when trying to discredit something that has just been said. The sentence usually starts with “Sí”, an ironic way of (even more), trying to take away all meaning from your victim’s words. If you were to look for a literal translation, “bollocks” or just a classical “no fucking way” would be some accurate choices.
    i.e. – “-El Manchester City es el mejor equipo del mundo -Sí, los cojones” (“-Manchester City is the best team in the world -No fucking way)
  • Que te Folle un Pez
    Translates as “Fuck a fish!” When you want to tell a Spanish person you are upset, this phrase paints a pretty good picture your counterpart will understand.

OK, I hope you enjoyed our little lecture on comebacks and insults in Spanish and learned a few colorful expressions. You’re now all set to start getting into trouble or to be able to recognize when someone is about to get punched in the face for calling the wrong guy “hijo de puta”.