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8 Spanish Words with Multiple Meanings

Do you remember learning about words in English that mean different things based on the context? For example, “bat” could mean a flying animal that’s active at night, or the type of baseball equipment. Believe it or not, Spanish has words like this as well! In Spanish, there are some words that can take on multiple meanings. Sometimes meaning can vary based on the country, but others depend on the context. Keep reading to learn more!

Words with multiple meanings in different countries

Depending on where in the world you are, these terms can have very different slang meanings. You might think you know what they mean, but when you read the descriptions, you’ll see just how much variation there can be.

  • Torta– This phrase can change depending on the country or region you hear it. In Spain, it can refer to a delicious cake served at a birthday party. In the same country, it could also mean a slap in the face! As you go to other areas of Spain, it could mean a flat bread. Moving to Mexico, it’s a common word for a sandwich on a special bread called telera.
  • Fresa– You may have seen this word as a flavor or ingredient. In many countries, it means strawberry. However, in Mexico, if you hear someone called a fresa, it’s a negative term to mean that they are superficial, preppy, and wealthy.
  • Mona– You might hear this word to describe a pretty girl in Spain, or a blonde or white woman in Colombia. In Venezuela, you might hear it to describe a girl that’s full of herself. If you look in the dictionary, it also means a female monkey!
  • Taco– Yes, this has different meanings in different countries! You might have had a delicious taco, the Mexican food. Have you ever been in a taco in Chile or Colombia? You would have been in a traffic jam.
  • Machete– Although you might know this as a tool, like in Chile or Costa Rica, it means something very different elsewhere. In Argentina or Colombia, it’s a cheat sheet for a test. In Bolivia or Peru, it could be someone’s boyfriend.

More common words with different meanings

Unlike the words in the last section, these don’t vary based on country or region. They’re simply words that sound and look the same, but have different meanings. Let’s take a look:

  • Vino– It could be a delicious adult beverage, wine, or it could be the past tense verb came. To say someone came over for wine, you would say Vino para vino.
  • Traje– This word means suit as a noun, or I brought as a verb. Traje mi traje means I brought my suit.
  • Cura– Meaning both priest and cure, you definitely want to use context clues if someone is asking for a cura.

Hopefully you learned something new with these words with multiple meanings. There are many more to discover!

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