Language is a tool for communication, but it can also be a weapon. Every language has its fair share of nice words, boring words, kind words, and yes, insulting words. Spanish is no exception.
In fact, Spanish boasts a long list of adjectives to describe someone who is “stupid” or someone who does stupid things. Some of these words, like tonto or estúpido, are widely used in all Spanish-speaking countries, while others are specific to certain regions.
But it’s not just a matter of picking a word from the list. There are levels of aggression to consider. Some of these adjectives are strong enough to be classified as insults, while others are softer and can even be used in an affectionate context.
In this article, we’ll explore 17 different ways to say stupid in Spanish and provide guidance on which words are best suited for which contexts.
However, it’s important to note that using these words to refer to someone with an intellectual disability is highly offensive and should always be avoided. So let’s dive in and expand our Spanish vocabulary, but always with respect and sensitivity.
Stupid in Spanish at a Glance
All the Ways to Say Stupid in Spanish
Let’s explore the word tonto in more detail. In Spanish, tonto (or its feminine version, tonta) can be roughly translated as “silly” or “dumb.” Interestingly, the movie “Dumb and Dumber” is known as “Tonto y Retonto” in Latin America and “Dos tontos muy tontos” in Spain.
While tonto does have a negative connotation, it’s actually a relatively soft word. Adults don’t typically use it to insult others, as it can come across as childish. Instead, it’s more commonly used as a gentle insult, to talk about oneself, or even as an affectionate term of endearment with a loved one.
If you want to describe something silly in Spanish, you can use the phrase una tontería. So, next time you hear someone using the word tonto in Spanish, keep in mind that it’s often more playful than harsh.
Let’s see some examples:
- Hoy me reí de una tontería.
- ¡Soy una tonta, olvidé que es el cumpleaños de Juan!
- ¡Ay, tonto! No tenías por qué comprarme un regalo.
- A mi gato lo quiero mucho, pero es un poco tonto.
- Today I laughed at something silly.
- Silly me! I forgot it’s Juan’s birthday!
- Oh, silly! You didn’t have to buy me a present.
- I love my cat very much, but he’s a bit dumb.
Let’s talk about the word bobo . It’s a word that can be translated to “fool” or “dumb” and is similar in meaning to “tonto.”
A bobo is generally someone who is not very intelligent or too naive. Interestingly, bobo is even softer than tonto in terms of the negative connotation it carries. If tonto is a soft insult, then bobo is even gentler.
If you want to describe something silly or foolish in Spanish, you can use the words una bobada or una bobería, which are the equivalents of una tontería. These phrases can be used to refer to silly or foolish behavior.
So, next time you hear someone use the word bobo in Spanish, remember that it’s a relatively mild insult, and it’s often used in a playful or teasing manner.
- Mi perro es un bobo porque siempre se persigue su cola.
- Ese periodista siempre dice bobadas.
- ¿Vos sos bobo, o qué? (Ar.)
- My dog is a fool because he’s always chasing his tail.
- That journalist always says stupid things.
- Are you silly, or what?
Are you wondering how to say stupid in Spanish? Well, we do have a direct translation for “stupid”: estúpido or estúpida.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), someone who is estúpido is described as “foolish or lacking in intelligence.” However, unlike tonto or bobo, estúpido is a stronger word in Spanish, and it can come across as quite aggressive when used to describe someone.
Of course, as with any insult, the tone, context, and intention behind the word matter a great deal.
It’s essential to be mindful of how we use language and the impact it can have on others. While certain words might seem harmless to some, they can be hurtful and offensive to others. So, let’s choose our words carefully and always treat others with respect and kindness.
- Me cae mal ese tipo, es un estúpido.
- No seas estúpido, no digas eso.
- Los políticos piensan que somos estúpidos.
- I don’t like that guy, he’s stupid.
- Don’t be stupid, don’t say that.
- Politicians think we’re stupid.
Another word in Spanish that’s quite strong is idiota . As you may have guessed, it’s the literal translation of “idiot.”
It’s essential to note that idiota is a particularly potent insult and should be used with great caution, if at all. When directed at someone, it can be deeply hurtful and offensive.
It’s also important to keep in mind that idiota is written with an “a” at the end, regardless of whether it’s used to refer to a man or a woman. This is because the word is classified as a noun of common gender in Spanish.
The translation for “something idiotic” is idiotez. For example:
- Esta película es idiota.
- Oye, idiota, respóndeme.
- No digas otra idiotez.
- This movie is stupid.
- Hey, idiot, answer me.
- Don’t say another stupid thing.
If you travel to Mexico or Central American countries like Honduras or El Salvador, you might hear the word menso used in everyday conversation.
In fact, if you watch the classic Mexican TV show “El Chavo,” you’ll hear the word menso used frequently throughout the episodes.
Menso is a synonym for tonto or bobo, and it’s not a particularly strong insult. It’s often used between friends or family members in a playful or teasing way.
Menso is a synonym for tonto or bobo, and something of a light-hearted insult. You can use it with your friends or family. For example:
- No seas menso, ¡ella te está mintiendo!
- Oye, güey, estás bien menso.
- Don’t be silly, she’s lying to you!
- Hey, dude, you’re so dumb.
Bruto (bruta in feminine) is a word with two meanings: someone who makes excessive use of force (a brute), and someone who is not very smart (“stupid”). For example:
No puedo creer que no sepas multiplicar, ¡eres un bruto!
I can’t believe you don’t know how to multiply, you’re stupid!
Are you someone who enjoys learning new languages through music? If so, you might want to check out the song “Lindo pero bruto” (“Cute, but stupid”) by Mexican singer Thalía and Argentinian singer Lali.
The song tells the story of a man who is undeniably attractive but lacks intelligence. The lyrics playfully describe his foolish behavior and suggest that he relies on his looks to get by in life.
A lelo or lela is a simple, silly person. This word is really light-hearted, but as in the other cases, the most important thing is the context. For example:
- Mi compañera de trabajo Luisa es una lela, nunca entiende nada.
- Me siento un poco lelo porque dormí mucho.
- My co worker María is a fool, she never understands anything
- I feel a little dumb because I slept a lot.
While pavo means turkey, pavo and pava are also words that can be used to describe someone who is foolish or naive. It’s a term that’s often used to describe children or teenagers who say or do immature things.
For instance, it’s common to refer to children between the ages of 11 and 15 (puberty) as la edad del pavo, literally “the age of the turkey”. This phrase can be roughly translated to “an awkward age” or “a silly age.”
If you’re curious to learn more about this expression, we recommend checking out the song La edad del pavo from the popular Argentine ’90s soap opera “Chiquititas.” The song humorously describes the ups and downs of growing up and going through la edad del pavo.
Now, let’s see at a few examples with the use of the words pavo and pavadas:
- Mis hijos están todo el día haciendo pavadas.
- No seas pavo y pídele perdón a Rosa.
- My children are fooling around all day.
- Don’t be stupid and ask Rosa for forgiveness.
Memo (or mema in feminine)is a synonym for estúpido and is used only in Spain. If you say memo in another Spanish-speaking country, they probably won’t understand you. It’s a pretty soft word. For example:
- Eres un memo, tío.
- El memo de Carlos ha roto mi móvil.
- You’re a jerk, man.
- Stupid Carlos has broken my phone.
Meanwhile, in South America, specifically in Argentina and Uruguay, the words nabo and naba are often used to describe someone who acts without thinking or is foolish.
While nabo might sound like a harsh insult, it’s actually a relatively soft word. In fact, it can even be considered an affectionate term in some contexts.
- Martín es un nabo, siempre está distraído.
- No puedo creer que estés saliendo con ese nabo.
- Martín is a fool, he’s always distracted.
- I can’t believe you’re dating that dork.
Synonyms for Stupid in Spanish
|Zopenco||A person who is stupid, clumsy, or childish.|
|Tarado||A South American term that means “moron.” Can be offensive if used in the wrong context.|
|Gil||A South American term used to describe someone who is stupid. While not considered an insult, it can be somewhat aggressive.|
|Gilipollas||A Spanish insult (i.e. from Spain) that means “asshole.” Use with caution and only in appropriate contexts.|
|Bobalicón||A derivative of “bobo,” meaning a simple and silly person.|
|Papanatas||A humorous term for someone who is simple, silly, or stupid.|
|Torpe||Literally meaning “clumsy,” this word can also be used as a synonym for “silly” or “stupid.”|