On Spanish Tacos and Balls.

Ah, Spain. Land of bullfighters, flamenco, tapas and tacos.

Wait, no. That’s Mexico. Four years later, my friends do ask me, “How delicious are the tacos in Spain? I bet you don’t want to eat any when you’re home.”

Quite the opposite, amigos. To a Spaniard, edible tacos are much too spicy, and tacos to a Spaniard is a generic word for swear word, meaning the same as palabrota. A Spaniard’s favorite taco? I mean, joder and mierda more than get their due, but in the South, cojones reigns supreme.

It makes sense, when you think about it. I remember when I went to the hallowed ground at Pompeii and was initially shocked with the remains of a woman trying to crawl away from the lava, only to be preserved for camera-happy tourists by being swallowed up by ash. Then, on our free hour to explore, I noticed strange symbols on streets and buildings: a phallic symbol. Come on, we’re in the Mediterranean, and everyone knows that machismo is alive and well here.

That’s right, cojones is best translated as balls.

I’ve gotten an exercise in the language this weekend at the Novio and I have been painting our 42 square meter casa (and here is your special mention, corazón). From the extreme temperatures to the falling plaster work, the word cojones has converted itself into the taco del día, the swear word of choice.

I once read a book that talked about the meaning of the word, which claimed that in older ages, having cojones was another way to say one was courageous. I am exposed to the Spanish language the majority of my day, and I’ve heard that expression infrequently. The cojones I’m talking about conjure disgust, exasperation and good old anatomy.

Estar hasta los cojones – to be sick of something

Literally meaning to be sick of something, cojones can be replaced with el mono (bun), la polla, narices, or any other body part. Since it’s got the use of a taco, it’s typically for anything severe. For example, Estaba hasta los cojones de sus tonterías might mean, He was sick of her silly games. Likewise, Estoy hasta el moño con este trabajo, is a more polite way of saying you’re f-ing sick of your job.

Tocar los cojones – to annoy, to be annoyed

This is the Novio’s favorite, and it’s often said to me! Tocar los cojones (pelotas, polla, huevos) is meant to express being bothered by something. Generally, it’s used in the negative command form, or in the positive present simple form. My nov loves to tell me, No me toques los cojones, or don’t bother me/stop doing that/you’re being annoying, go away. In the simple form, however, it states a fact and that something annoys you on a regular basis. Repasar este puto blog me toca los cojones. Proofreading this blog annoys me (hence the many mistakes).

Por cierto, tocarse los cojones, a reflexive play on the phrase, means to just be all-out lazy. What did you do today, Cat? Pues, me he tocado los huevos (though I did write this blog!) Thanks, Buckley, Jose and Juanjo for the clarification!

Mandar cojones (huevos) – what a pain, geez

This is the newest palabra acojonuda that I’ve learned, and it’s usually employed as an interjection to express surprise. For example. Your annoying neighbor leaves his fish-ridden garbage outside your door overnight and the smell has wafted into your house. That is something that manda cojones. Or you read that the Bolsa has dropped yet again and that those clowns in the parliament still have no idea how to stop it? Well they sure do mandar cojones, right? More than anything, it’s just used as it is: Manda cojones.

Sudarse los cojones – to not matter

If I ask the Novio what he’d like to eat for lunch, he sometimes answers me, a bit annoyingly, Me suda los cojones, which literally means, it makes my balls sweat. Más bien, it translates to I don’t care or it doesn’t matter. I’ve used it to tell someone to do whatever he feels like (also an eloquent, haz los que te salga de la polla, look that one up).

De los cojones – stupid (as an adjective of emphasis)

If something is bothering you, it’s athonishingly simple to add “de los cojones” to emphasize your point, such as, este calor de los cojones, this f-ing heat. It can also be used in a much more severe way, but my neighbors read this blog!

As I write this blog, Kike has started preparing his lunch. He’s bought huevas, the so-called manjar de dioses, or Gods’s treat. I was once with a vegetarian friend in the Corte Inglés supermarket when she inquired as to what exactly they were. The fish monger simply took the orangey and veiny fish part and stuck them up under a headless fish. That’s about as close to cojones as fish have got, I guess.

Any other good ones to share, Hispanophiles? Write me in the comments. This will all be useful to me when I take the DELE in a few months!

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Tocarse los huevos can also be used in the following way. ¨No he hecho nada, me he sentado en el sofa tocandome los huevos por todo el día.¨ Literally meaning that you have been sitting on the sofa playing with your balls all day. This seems to be one of Merche´s favorite expressions.
    Furthermore, I´ve always understand ´de cojones´or ´de los cojones´ meaning ‘as fuck’ or ‘as shit’ when added to the end of the phrase. For instance, “Estoy barracho de cojones!” would mean, “I´m drunk as fuck!”

    • I had Kike read it, and then edited that, too! Here’s to it getting fixed. Thanks, B!

      • No problem. I just realized that I should probably edit my post as I gave the literal interpretation of ´tocarse los huevos´ and not the actual translation. Had you not heard the ´tocarse los huevos´ as meaning ´lazy´ before?
        Anyway, I really like your blog. You should definitely keep it up.

  2. I learned Spanish from 2 spanish men in their 20s…and I have heard all of these. LOVE that you wrote them out for me to remember…because usually I just say something about ‘cajones’ and it’s done…now I’ll know all the differences! haha

  3. this blog bost is cojonudo (BALLER!)

  4. Haha Ale uses all of the above… those Andaluces!

  5. I’ve also heard “cojonudo” or “acojonante” which I assume come from cojones. “cojonudo” is usually something that’s awesome basically: “Hoy he comido un jamon de bellota cojonudo.” And if something is acojonante it’s suprising (this can be good or bad)..”Ese tio es aconjoante, siempre me pide dinero..” or “Ese tio es acojonante, deja el piso superlimpio, y no me pide limpiar nunca.” I also feel like a lot could be said about expressions involving “huevos.”

  6. ‘Cojones’ in a general, broader use is somewhat similar to ‘heck’ or ‘hell’, as in:

    – ¿Y yo qué cojones sé?
    – What the hell do I know? / The hell if I know!

    – ¿Qué cojones quieres?
    – What the heck do you want?
    (careful: not to confuse with ‘Which balls do you prefer?’)

    Funny enough, in this meaning, ‘cojones’ is 100% interchangeable with ‘coño’, ‘pollas’ or even ‘mierda’, another worthwhile word to post about in a future follow-up!


  7. My favorite is when Americans say “cajones” or spell “cajones” en vez de “cojones.” I have drawers just doesn’t have the right kick.

  8. Ah, but this articles does fall a bit short. Cojones is a wonderful word full of meanings:

    “Ahora me explico las quejas de los extranjeros por sus dificultades con nuestras acepciones. Un ejemplo de la riqueza del lenguaje castellano es el número y acepciones de una simples palabra, como puede ser la muy conocida y frecuentemente utilizada referencia a los atributos masculinos, “cojones”.

    Si va acompañada de un numeral, tiene significados distinto según el número utilizado. Así, “uno” significa “caro o costoso” (valía un cojón), “dos” significa “valentía” (tenía dos cojones), “tres” significa “desprecio” (me importa tres cojones), un número muy grande más “par” significa “dificultad” (lograrlo me costo mil pares de cojones).

    El verbo cambia el significado. “Tener” indica “valentía” (aquella persona tiene cojones), aunque con signos exclamativos puede significar “sorpresa” (¡tiene cojones!); “poner” expresa un reto, especialmente si se ponen en algunos lugares (puso los cojones encima de la mesa).

    También se los utiliza para apostar (me corto los cojones), o para amenazar (te corto los cojones). El tiempo del verbo utilizado cambia el significado de la frase. Así, el presente indica “molestia o hastío” (me toca los cojones), el reflexivo significa “vagancia” (se tocaba los cojones), pero el imperativo significa “sorpresa” (¡tócate los cojones!). Los prefijos y sufijos modulan su significado: “a-” expresa “miedo” (acojonado), “des-” significa “cansancio o risa” (descojonado), “-udo” indica “perfección” (cojonudo), y “-azo” se refiere a la “indolencia o abulia” (cojonazo).

    Las preposiciones matizan la expresión. “De” significa “éxito” (me salió de cojones)” o “cantidad” (hacía un frío de cojones), “por” expresa “voluntariedad” (lo haré por cojones), “hasta” expresa “límite de aguante” (estoy hasta los cojones), “con” indica “valor” (era un hombre con cojones) y “sin”, “cobardía” (era un hombre sincojones).

    Es distinto el color, la forma, la simple tersura o el tamaño. El color violeta expresa “frío” (se me quedaron los cojones morados), la forma, “cansancio” (tenía los cojones cuadrados), pero el desgaste implica “experiencia” (tenía los cojones pelados de tanto repetirlo).

    Es importante el tamaño y la posición (tiene dos cojones grandes y bien plantados); sin embargo hay tamaño máximo (tiene los cojones como los del caballo de Espartero) que no puede superarse, porque entonces indica “torpeza o vagancia” (le cuelgan, se los pisa, se sienta sobre ellos, e incluso necesita una carretilla para llevarlos).

    La interjección “¡cojones!” significa “sorpresa”, y cuando uno se halla perplejo los solicita (manda cojones). En ese lugar reside la voluntad y de allí surgen las órdenes (me sale de los cojones).

    En resumen, será difícil encontrar una palabra, en castellano o en otros idiomas, con mayor número de acepciones.”


  1. […] Check out Cat’s entry: On Spanish Tacos and Balls. […]

  2. […] do them Spaniards eat for dessert, anyway? We certainly know that their tacos are nothing like the Mexican ones, nor is their tortilla. But how do their desserts measure […]

  3. […] spanish expressions – Check out my friend Cat’s blog post on […]

  4. […] of “Those crazy Spaniards and their crazy language!” We’ve already learned the many usages of cojones (and that Spaniards hold them, the actual things, in high favor), so why not continue the anatomy […]

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