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10 Spanish Words that Don’t Exist in English

1. Madrugar

To get up early

Tengo que madrugar el lunes.

2. Estadounidense

A person or thing from the United States.

El presidente estadounidense vive en Washington. 

White House by  Tom Lohdan (CC BY 2.0)

3. Empalagar

To disgust with too much sweetness.

El pastel me empalaga.

4. Anteayer

The day before yesterday

He comprado una tostadora anteayer.

5. Sobremesa

The time spent chatting around the table after the meal has finished

Me lo ha dicho cuando estábamos de sobremesa.

Sobremesa by Daquella Manera (CC BY 2.0)

6. Tuerto

One-eyed man

El tuerto gitano me ha pedido dinero.

40+359 Y’arrrr by bark (CC BY 2.0)

7. Quincena

15 days, half of the month

Ya me han pagado la segunda quincena de abril.

8. Entrecejo

The space between the eyebrows.

Tienes grano en el entrecejo.

9. Tardar

To be late/ to take a long time

Lo siento por tardar.

10. Chapuza

A shoddy piece of work, a botched job

Joder, que chapuza!

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13 Responses to 10 Spanish Words that Don’t Exist in English

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas November 15, 2013 at 9:42 AM #

    I totally have a list of these, too! Truth be told, quincena does exist in English, but it’s not a common word in America; it’s fortnight. Things you learn teaching British English…

    • Kate Peregrina November 15, 2013 at 1:51 PM #

      A fortnight is 14 days though, right? Quincena is 15 days.

      • Anonymous November 17, 2013 at 2:27 AM #

        Yes, it’s two weeks or 14 days.

      • Peter May 30, 2014 at 9:13 AM #

        They are equivalent because of a cultural difference. In Spanish you count the current day when you discuss time lapses. So, while in English we would say “in one week” in Spanish you would say “de hoy en ocho” which roughly translates to “from today in eight (days)” where the word “days” is implied. The same goes for two weeks. In English it is viewed as in 14 days while in Spanish you would count the current day and say in 15.

  2. Ross Gonsolvis November 19, 2013 at 6:47 PM #

    Estrenar is another word they use that we don’t really have an exact word for

    • Kate Peregrina November 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM #

      “To use for the first time.” Weird.

    • wischile December 24, 2013 at 3:59 AM #

      premiere would actually work OK

      • Ainhoa Inglés August 16, 2014 at 4:28 AM #

        Not really. You can use “estrenar” for meals, clothes, houses, friends, cars… all kind of stuffs. Of course, you can use it for movies, but the real meaning is even deeper.

  3. chvnx December 24, 2013 at 3:16 AM #

    > A person or thing from the United States.


    • kalic00 December 24, 2013 at 2:42 PM #

      no, because mexicans are also americans, as are argentines, or cubans, or peruvians, or candians.

      • patriot December 26, 2013 at 11:44 PM #


  4. scott October 16, 2014 at 1:17 AM #

    Cloying is the same as empalagar


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