7 Dec, 2023 @ 17:32
3 mins read

From ‘guiri’ to ‘gilipollas’: These 20 Spanish insults will have you speaking like a local – but how many do YOU know?

One of the hardest parts of moving to a new country is not being able to express yourself – particularly if you find yourself in a confrontational scenario. 

That’s why we’ve made this handy guide of some of the best Spanish insults so you’ll sound like a local in no time. 

While some are more common, others you may never have heard of. See how many of the 20 insults you know below.


Often used to refer to foreign tourists, especially Brits, people often wonder if they should be offended when called a guiri. According to native Spaniards, although the term ‘has a negative connotation we use it with love.’

In essence, it all depends on the context and on the intention and tone of the person using the word.


A mishmash of an unfortunate soul’s surname, ‘Gil’, and ‘pollas’ meaning chickens, the word is used in place of ‘***hole’,  ‘d**khead’, ‘w**ker’ or ‘idiot’. 

Photo by Finn Mund on Unsplash

Hijo de puta 

Used in the largely the same way as English speakers use ‘son of a b**ch’, you can use this handy phrase when something goes wrong or when referring to someone you don’t like. 


Literally meaning ‘goat’, this well-worn insult is used to call someone an ‘***hole’ or ‘bastard’. But don’t be shocked if a friend greets you with ‘Ey cabron!’ as it can also be a term of endearment. 


An common insult in Andalucia, ‘paquete’, meaning package, is used to make fun of someone who has messed up. 


Directly translated, this term refers to the head of a penis, or as us brits like to say, a ‘d**khead’ however in Spain, the word is used more casually to mean idiot or twit. 

Me cago en tu puta madre 

This fun little phrase literally means ‘I s**t on your b***h mother’. ‘Me cago en’ can be used as a starting point for many Spanish swears, for example, ‘me cago en todo lo que se menea’, meaning ‘I s**t on everything that moves’, ‘me cago en dios’, ‘I s**t on god’ and finally the slightly more polite, ‘me cago en diez’ ‘I s**t on ten’.  

Tomar por culo 

Much like ‘shove up your bum’, tomar por culo is often used to say ‘p**s off’ or ‘go to hell’.  

El burro sabe mas que tu 

Though an insult, this phrase is used to help children learn their vowels in the rhyme ‘a/e/i/o/u, el burro sabe mas que tu’. Translated, it means ‘the donkey knows more than you’ and is used to imply someone is stupid. 

Eres tan feo/a qué hiciste llorar a una cebolla

‘You’re so ugly that you made an onion cry’, this phrase could really sting if used against you. 

Hay dias tontos y tontos todos los dias 

This funny quip translates to ‘some people have stupid days, others are stupid everyday’ and is much less harsh than some of the other phrases in this list. 

La mona aunque se vista de seda, mona se queda 

Similar to mutton dressed as lamb, this insult translates to ‘although a monkey dresses in silk, it’s still a monkey’, poking fun at people who try to change their look through clothes. 

Que te folle un pez

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Another example of Spain’s inventive insult style, this phrase translates as the (hopefully) physically impossible ‘I hope a fish f***s you’. 


Meaning ***hole, this phrase is actually from Latin America but you’ll still hear it in Spain as the country has a big population of Latin American expats. The word varies in severity depending on who you’re talking to, so proceed with caution. 

Tu puta madre en bicicleta

As if saying ‘your w**re mother’ weren’t enough, this phrase adds ‘on a bike’ to make saying ‘no way!’ ever more creative. 

Vete a freir esparragos 

Ever wanted to tell someone to go away in a more inventive way? Spain has your back with this phrase that translates to ‘go and fry asparagus!’

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash


If you’ve ever been called ‘pringado’, we’ve got some bad news. Meaning sucker, loser or gullible, it’s often used to refer to someone who has been conned or who has made a mistake. 


This biting insult is often used to look down on people, meaning ‘idiot’ or ‘jerk’. It can also be used to refer to ridiculous or unsightly objects, especially clothes.

Al carajo 

Often used alongside ‘ir’ or ‘mandar’, meaning ‘to send’ or ‘to go’, this phrase is a vulgar way to say ‘to go to s**t’.


If you had to guess what the Spanish translation of ‘layabout’ or ‘couch potato’, we bet you wouldn’t say ‘big egg’, but that’s exactly what ‘huevon’ means, a common phrase used to call someone lazy. 


Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email yzabelle@theolivepress.es

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