7 junio, 2024

Big words: concept, types and examples

The big wordsswearing, profanity or foul language refers to words that are considered obscene or rude, such as insults, derogatory sexual references or phrases intended to offend.

The word high-sounding is composed of the prefix alti- (high) and sonante, of sound. Although it can be assumed that these are words that “sound loud”, in reality it refers to words that are big, or rather, swear words.

Types of big words

The writer Carlos Laguna, in his book words and swear wordsdivides big words into five main groups:

1- Those that compare with animals

For example, if someone is called a «donkey» it refers to the low intellectual capacity of the insulted person. If he is called a «bastard» it means that he is suffering from infidelity on the part of his partner.

If it is called «marrano», reference is made to the non-existent hygiene of the interlocutor. You want to express that it is disgusting or dirty.

2- Those that revolve around sex or sexual preferences

It is derogatory if a woman is called “whore”, or if a man’s manhood is questioned by shouting “sarasa” at him in a pejorative way.

3- Those whose central word is linked to intercourse

This type, like many insults, varies by region. For example, in some countries it is customary to say «you are depraved» to indicate that a person has a certain obsession with sex.

4- Those where the mother is the center of the insult

«Your mother’s lame» is an insult with various uses in countries like Spain, where the same description is applied to indicate that your mother is physically unattractive or that she works as a prostitute.

There are other high-sounding phrases in which reference is made to someone’s mother’s sexual organs, or it is expressed that someone’s mother is a prostitute.

5- About someone’s low intellectual capacity

Phrases like dunce, chump or imbecile are worth to detract from someone’s intellectual capacity.

unique semantic load

The Mexican professor Margarita Espinosa presents an investigation in which she concludes that the semantic load of profanity is unique, so they cannot be replaced by other words.

He also adds that certain profanities can have an offensive spectrum that, for example, could go from a simple «stupid» to a more complex «asshole», which would carry a greater offensive load.

Are there bad words?

Actually the words are not bad; In this case, the intention with which they are said may be negative, but there is a kind of social agreement about the offensive charge of words and this may vary between countries or regions.

Even in particular situations, the repetitive use of big words wears out their meanings, making them lose their value and offensive charge.

Some regional differences

Venezuela uses «huevo» to refer to the penis, when in most Spanish-speaking countries it means testicle.

In Mexico, the roe is boredom, something that is «of eggs» is important, and a «*******» is a lazy person.

A straw is a straw, but a straw can be a small handjob (masturbation). Pitillo (from dick) is also a penis. In Mexico they wear jackets, because the jackets are straw.

Examples of big words

If we follow the pattern of the types of high-sounding words, in Spanish-speaking countries these comparisons with animals are used:

1- «*****» to refer to a woman who is a prostitute or who constantly hangs around men.

2- «Gallina» that indicates that a person is a coward.

Regarding those uses to belittle the sexual tendencies of each person, some of the most frequent are:

3- «******», which refers to a homosexual or effeminate man.

4- «Machorra», which would be the equivalent of fagot in the case of a woman. That is, a homosexual girl or with tendencies to act like a man.

The high-sounding words derived from intercourse or any sexual practice are the most frequent:

5- «Fuck you», indicating that you are going to have sexual relations and that you leave him alone.

6- «Eat my ass», widely used by one person to indicate to the other that they have not done something well or that they are doing something they do not like.

As we indicated, mothers are also the focus of several examples of insults, possibly because it is one of the most hurtful things:

7- «Your mother’s shell» is one of the worst insults that can be said to an Argentine. It refers to the sex of the mother of each one.

8- «Your cross-eyed mother» is very typical of Spain. He simply tries to be hurtful with the physical appearance of the mother he insults.

To indicate that someone has a lower intellectual capacity, or that they act without thinking about things too much, expressions like this are used:

9- «You are a cork oak head» is very derogatory because it makes a simile with the tree from which the cork is extracted.

10- «Gaznápiro», practically out of use, but very frequent in other times to indicate that a person is clumsy, stupid or redneck.


Dictionary of the Spanish language – High-sounding: dle.rae.es
Margarita Espinosa – Something about the history of swear words: reasonypalabra.org.mx
Wikipedia – Bad Language: en.wikipedia.org
La Nación – Bad words: Profanity from there, innocence from here: nacion.com
Mexican Profanity Dictionary: esclavoseternos.blogspot.com

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