YouTube/Daisy Lopez/La Jornada Filipina

Editor’s note: This article includes vulgarity. Tap the censored letter to reveal the full word.

The Spanish colonial influence in the Filipino language extends beyond mere words that sound similar and similar-sounding words but with different meanings. In fact, there are a lot of Filipino swear words and profanities of Spanish origin. These words are considered common in the Filipino vernacular that even prominent personalities in the Philippines occasionally use them.

Ahead, we take a look at these words and see how different or similar they are to their Spanish counterparts. We’ll also observe sentence examples in Filipino (with accompanying English translations) and Spanish to better understand their usage.

“Inutil”

This is what social media users once used when criticizing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It literally means “useless” and is used to call someone who is a good-for-nothing.

The screen name of vlogger Daisy Lopez, aka Madam Inutz, also came from this word. Madam Inutz often playfully calls her viewers “inutil” as they only go to her platform to watch her instead of buying her wares. In September 2021, Lopez also dropped the K-pop-inspired song “Inut*l.”

There’s nothing much of a difference in the said word’s Spanish counterpart, except that it can also refer to a disabled person. Be careful when code switching as you may offend the disability community.

Examples:

“Napaka inutil mo talaga!” (“You’re really worthless!”)

“¡Realmente eres inútil!”

“Punyeta”

This is another vulgar word that Filipinos like to throw around when arguing with someone. It comes from the Spanish word “puñeta,” which means a mixed of things vulgar and not.

If you want the dictionary definitions, here’s a list of less than flattering words from Tagalog.com.

Examples:

“Punyeta ka!” (“F— you!”)

“¡Vete a la mierda!”

“Putang Ina”

This is, we think, the most favorite swear word by Filipinos. It literally means “f—” and is used to express extreme emotions such as anger, frustration and shock. Its other variations are “’tang ina mo” or simply “puta,” which is of Spanish origin.

In Spanish, the word “puta” literally means “prostitute,” among other vulgar interjections.

Examples:

“Putang ina namang buhay ’to.” (“F— this life”)

“Que se joda esta vida.”

“Bobo”

Filipinos like to use this word whenever they’re engaged in a heated argument. It means “dumb,” “stupid” or “foolish.” Little did they know that it came from Spanish.

In Spanish, “bobo” also means the same thing. Unlike other Filipino swear words and profanities, this one doesn’t have the restriction to be censored in mainstream media.

Examples:

“Ang bobo niya talaga.” (“He’s really stupid”)

“Es muy bobo.”

“Gago”

This is another popular Filipino swear word that carries the same energy as “bobo.” It mostly means the same thing, but more vulgar. Unlike “bobo,” the word “gago” is censored in media.

In Andean and Caribbean Spanish, the said word means “stutterer” as a noun and “stuttering” as an adjective.

Examples:

“Ang gago niya.” (“He’s a fool”)

“Está claro que es un gago.”

“Letse”

In Filipino, this is an interjection that’s used to express anger; its meanings are vulgar as well.

It comes from the word “leche” in Spanish, which generally means “milk.”

Examples:

“Letse naman ’to.” (“F— this off”)

“Quiero un vaso de leche.”

“Tarantado”

This word translates to “bastard,” which is also used when expressing annoyance with someone. In Spanish, there’s this word “taranteando” and its infinitive form “tarantear,” which means “to behave strangely” and “be eccentric” among others.

Examples:

“Tarantado ka!” (“You’re a bastard!”)

“Se está taranteando.”

Filipino is a language influenced by Chinese, Malay, Bahasa Indonesia and Spanish. Despite its many Asian influences, Spanish seems to be what stands out the most. Indeed, there are around 4,000 Spanish words in Filipino/Tagalog.


Do you know of any more Filipino swear words and profanities of Spanish origin? Let us know on social media!


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