There are many words that cannot be translated directly in both the English language and the Spanish language.
Being fluent in Spanish and English I am always fascinated with these words that have no direct translation. I have compiled a small list of words in Spanish that have no direct translation into English.
Desvelado (a) – tired, specifically from being kept awake the night before. “Estoy desvelado porque mis vecinos costeños no dejaban la bulla anoche.” You could also be desvelado because you spent the prior night partying. If so, you could be simultaneously desvelado AND enguayabado. Now isn’t that fun?
Huevón (n) – Huevo is “egg”, so using the n as a suffix would logically make it a “giant egg”. But calling someone a “huevon” doesn’t mean he is a giant egg. Huevon means that the person is a fool or an idiot.
Puente (n) – This is a very important word to know here in Colombia. Colombia has the 2nd most national holidays in the world, 2nd to Argentina. Most holidays are Catholic. Puente is a three-day-weekend. Three-day-weekend is a hyphenated word so it really doesn’t count as a direct translation.
Tocayo (n) – a person who has the same name as you. So if your name is La’Quan and your brother-in-law’s name is La’Quan, he’s your cuñado as well as your tocayo. The closest word to tocayo in English is “namesake”, but in modern day English this word is usually used in reference to a son named after a father. It would sound awkward to hear someone refer to a friend with the same name as their namesake.
Tutear (v) – to address someone in the “tu” form vs.. the usted form. It’s pretty obvious why we don’t have this in English, with “thee” and “thou” being dead.
Amigovia/o (n) — A friend with benefits; a combination of amiga/o and novia/o.
Estrenar (v) – To wear or use something for the first time.
¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? Me los estoy estrenando. Rough translation: Do you like my new shoes? I’m wearing them for the first time.
Antier/Anteayer (n) A one-word way of saying the day before yesterday. A shorter version of “antes de ayer. “Ella llegó de viaje antier. Rough translation: She got back from her trip the day before yesterday.
Tuerto (n) (adj) – A man with only one eye or one-eyed-man this is a hyphenated word so I don’t really count it as a direct translation.
“El pirata es tuerto.” The pirate is one-eyed or the pirate has one eye.
Te quiero (phrase) – A way to tell someone you care about them. Particularly when romance is involved, more meaningful than an “I like you,” but less meaningful than an “I love you.” May be used as “I love you” in non-romantic relationships.
Te quiero. Rough translation: I really care for you but don’t quite love you.
Of course there are a ton more, this is just a start to a series of posts on this topic. Here in Medellin there are a ton of words that do not even exist in the Spanish dictionary, I plan on adding those as well. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment below.
About the Medellin Buzz English and Spanish conversation tour
A practicar ingles en Medellin! – Medellin Buzz English and Spanish conversation tour is for English and Spanish as a Second Language students to practice and learn. Our goal is to integrate native English speakers with native Spanish speakers in a fun and dynamic way.
Hello, my name is Andrew Macia and I am the founder of the Medellin Buzz. I am an advanced level English teacher here in Medellin, and I also have a website development, and marketing company which I run from home.
My idea with the Medellin Buzz is to push those who are learning English and to motivate those who are considering the option of learning English here in Medellin.
I love living in Medellin and I love Colombia. I want to give back to the community and this is the best way I know how. Let’s practice English/Spanish and have a great time!