Glossary of Spanish Perjorative Terms

Can you tell your bolos from your botiflers? Or a morlaco from a mangurrino? Then read on, and you'll be ready if some gent calls you a cateto.

Bellotero: 'Acorn-collector.' Used in Caceres (North Extremadura) to taunt the folk of Badajoz (South Extremadura). Extramadura is jamon territory, see, and the best jamones are reared on acorns. Just a bit of agricultura-themed local jostling.

Bolo: Affectionate term for Toledanos, who are wont to say things such as 'si, bolo,', 'tontolbolo' or 'anda bolo.' Its meaning is hotly debated. It's a toss-up between; a) a nickname for students returning from Bolonia in the 14th Century; b) a Latin phrase attributed to the 6th Century Toledan King Recaredo when he was asked to convert to Christianity (ego, volo, 'yes, I wish'); or c) the steel cannonballs once produced in droves by the Toledo city armoury.

Botifler: Largely a Catalan term saved for traitors who are on the side of Castile in political matters. it was used in the Spanish War of Succession (1705-1714) for borbonistas, ie. supporters of the Bourbon family's claim to the Spanish throne. So, with Bourbon Kings still in power over three centuries later, and roughly a half of the Catalan population feeling aggrieved over their role in the modern state, the phrase is still onside.

Calorro: The Spanish version of the English 'gippo', 'knacker' or 'pikey'.

Catalufos: Proud - the suggestion is 'too proud for their own good' - Catalans. In particular those with an insistence on talking in Catalan even when they know you don't know a word.

Cateto: A derisory term meaning 'triangle', ie. village idiot or inbred. Especially used in the South of Spain.

Guiri: Any foriegner with a bad tan, and little Spanish. Or a carton of Don Simon wine in their hand. Actually, just any foreigner from northern Europe/North America/Australasia. Not meant to be insulting. But definitely a hint of ridicule in the word. Guiriguay is an offshoot meaning 'a noisy circus', which suggests that guiris might be seen as clownish figures. Which we most definitely are, when on holiday.

Mangurrino: The 'cupule' of an acorn. Used in Badajoz to aply to the folk of Caceres, as northern Extremadura is seen as the cupule of the acorn on the map. The south is the fruit of the acorn, the 'bellota'.

Moro: 'Moor'. An ancient term for North Africans. Not a word to be used freely in the Europe of today. Still, that doesn't stop it from being used with happy abandon.

Morlaco: A non-regional put-down, meaning 'one who feins ignorance'. It was also the name of a Lydian bull from legend. Furthermore, it means a native of Morlaquia, a region of latter-day Dalmacia (modern Croatia). Not that that has anything to do with it, probably.

Maketos: Historically aimed at 'dark' Spaniards who 'emigrated' to the Basque region during the industrial revolution and beyond.

Facineroso: 'Criminal' or 'habitual delinquent.' Derived from the Latin, facinus.

Facha: A firm pan-Iberian favourite, the colloquial form of 'fascist.' A word that has an all-too literal meaning in post-Franco Spain, where it still matters which side your grandfather fought on.

Paleto: Ignorant, uneducated, from the provinces.

Píjo: Snob.

Polaco: 'Pole.' Reserved for Catalans. the suggestion being that they're another race. Something many Catalans agree with, happily reclaiming the word for their own usage. As with the comedy sketch show on Catalonia's TV3, Polonia (Poland).

Pucelanos: A denigrading expression applied to inhabitants of Valladolid, originally either referring to that city's historical reputation as being very smelly in centuries gone by, or perhsps derived from the word poza, which means 'puddle'. hence, the puddlers. Valladolid is known as La Pucela.

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