Spanish Words That Don’t Have Direct English Translations (Top 12)

Spanish, just like other languages, has words that can’t be directly translated. These words are uniquely their own, and once translated, they can convey a different meaning. We listed the top 12 Spanish words that don’t have direct or exact translations in English. Let’s learn each one of them now!

Spanish Words That Don’t Have Direct English Translations (in Alphabetical Order)

Ajeno

Meaning:

  • Ajeno is one of the Spanish words that when translated to English, has a different meaning. When translated to English, the closest meaning we have is “someone else’s”, “unaffiliated”, or “alien.”
  • Example: Quiero ser ajeno a esta empresa a partir de hoy.
  • English: I want to be unaffiliated with this company starting today.

Anteayer

Meaning:

  • The Spanish word “annteayer” does not have a direct English translation. Anteayer is the day before yesterday, and come to think of it, the English language doesn’t have a specific name for the day before yesterday yet. 
  • Example: Estuve con ella anteayer, pero no nos hemos visto desde entonces.
  • English: I was with her the day before yesterday, but we haven’t seen each other since.

Atinar

Meaning:

  • Atinar is a Spanish word that means “to hit something in the nail” or “nailed it.” There is no English word for atinar.
  • Example: Tú atinaste en clase hoy. Estoy muy feliz con tu progreso.
  • English: You nailed it in class today. I’m very happy with your progress.

Consuegro, consuegra

Meaning:

  • Consuegro, consuegra is a Spanish expression that closely means “my brother-in-laws brother-in law.” It is hard to translate this to English, for this has no equivalence in the English dictionary. It is used when introducing in-laws to someone.
  • Example: Hola, espero que no te moleste que traje al consuegro hoy.
  • English: Hi, I hope you don’t mind that I brought my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law today.

Convivir

Meaning:

  • Convivir can be closely translated to “live together” or “getting along well” since this word is used in sentences with the same context. It is used when two people share one house.
  • Example: ¡Es genial que convivan!
  • English: It’s so cool that you live together!

Empalagar

Meaning:

  • Empalagar means that when you consume too much of a certain food, you can no longer consume more of it or your body starts rejecting food. It doesn’t have a direct meaning in English but can be closely translated to “eating too much.” But, even the translation is a bit off.
  • Example: Vi a alguien en el restaurante que empalagó y empezó a vomitar.
  • English: I saw someone at the restaurant eat too much that he started throwing up.

Estrenar

Meaning:

  • Estrenar can mean a lot of things like “to wear for the first time” or “to use for the first time.” 
  • Example: Estoy estrenando una camisa nueva que obtuve de una oferta ayer.
  • English: I’m wearing a new shirt that I got from a sale yesterday.

Friolento

Meaning:

  • Friolento has no exact meaning in English but is closely translated to “cold-blooded” or someone that easily gets cold. 
  • Example: Necesito mi chaqueta aunque haga buen tiempo porque me friolento.
  • English: I need my jacket even if the weather’s nice because I easily get cold.

Ponerse las botas

Meaning:

  • Ponerse las botas is a Spanish phrase that doesn’t have any translation. In English, it means “to put on boots” but this phrase is used during meals. In Spanish countries, this phrase refers to a time when boot-owners were rich and enjoyed bountiful meals. Now, it means that a person is well-fed.
  • Example: Muchas gracias por la comida que sirvió hoy. Me puse las botas y listo para trabajar.
  • English: Thank you so much for the delicious food you served today. I’m well-fed and ready to work.

Puente

Meaning:

  • In Spanish, Puente means “bridge.” But, it is used in a different way. When there is an upcoming holiday that will land a day before the weekend, some people will get a “puente” which is the day between a workday and a holiday. This way, they can have a long weekend.
  • Example: Es triste que no tendremos un puente ya que el feriado caerá en miércoles.
  • English: It’s sad that we can’t get a long weekend since the holiday will land on a Wednesday.

Quincena

Meaning:

  • Quincena is a way for Spanish locals to count their days. In other countries, this could mean a fortnight or every two weeks. But, instead of fourteen days, Spanish people count to fifteen days.
  • Example: Tendrás tu sueldo cada quincenas. ¿Está bien?
  • English: You’ll have your pay every fortnight. Is that okay?

Sobremesa

Meaning:

  • Sobresema has no direct translation in English. It is the time when families spend hours together at the dining table, talking and sharing their experiences for the day.
  • Example: Es tradición de nuestra familia pasar una larga sobremesema.
  • English: It’s our family’s tradition to spend long hours at the dining table.

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