“Cabrón” is a popular Spanish swear word, but it actually has multiple meanings. In that way, it’s a lot like the English word “fuck,” which can be used in many ways.
The traditional meaning of the word “cabrón” is “a male goat.” However, unless you hang out with people who own livestock, that’s probably not someone means if they call you “cabrón!” While this original meaning of cabrón isn’t offensive, the term gradually evolved to mean “cuckold.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term “cuckold,” you probably don’t have to delete your browser history as often as I do. A “cuckold” is a man whose wife or girlfriend has been unfaithful to him–usually without his knowledge (although, on certain websites, the cuckold definitely knows what’s happening).
Although being cheated on by your wife or girlfriend is unpleasant in any culture, it’s particularly taboo in Latin cultures, which makes cabrón an extremely pejorative insult. Are you familiar with the term “fighting words?” Well, in Spanish, “cabron” can definitely apply as a “fighting word.”
Regionality and the Offensiveness of Cabrón
Swear words often carry different degrees of offensiveness depending on the countries in which you say them. For example, many British people use the word “cunt” like a punctuation mark, while it’s one of the most offensive words a person can say in America. Likewise, cabrón has varying degrees of offensiveness throughout different Latin countries. While an internet forum discussion shouldn’t be taken as gospel truth, this question and answer section from Quora indicates that “cabrón” might not be as big of a deal in Mexico as it is in other Latin American countries.
However, as with any swear word, cabrón can be used among friends who you know well. In this instance, cabron would mean something closer to the English equivalent of “asshole” or “bastard.”
Other Definitions of Cabrón
According to Wiktionary, there are several disparate definitions for cabrón that vary from country to country.
- A pejorative term meaning “coward”
- A vulgar pejorative meaning “cuckold” (more popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic)
- A vulgar term meaning bastard, motherfucker, or jackass (popular in Central America)
- Pejorative term meaning “pimp” (common in Latin America)
- An informal slang term, similar to “dude” or “bro” (most popular in Mexico and Costa Rica)
Different Ways to Use the Word “Cabrón”
Much like the English word “fuck,” “cabrón” can take the form of many different parts of speech, and be used in many contexts. Here are some of the ways you might hear it used:
- Interjection–One of the most popular uses of cabrón is as an interjection, much like someone might yell, “Son of a bitch!” if they stubbed their toe: ¡Cabrón! (Asshole! Bastard!)
- Name-Calling–If you want to call someone an asshole/bastard/cuckold (and you’re sure they’re not going to punch you in the mouth) you’d say, “Eres un cabrón.”
- Friendly Term–Much like the word “man” or “dude” in English, you might hear cabrón used in the following context: ¿Qué onda, cabrón? (What’s up, man?)
- Emphasis–Cabrón can be used to emphasize being good at something, for example: “Soy un cabrón para cocinar.” (I’m fucking great at cooking.)
- Describing Someone–If you wanted to call someone a bastard or an asshole, you cabrón in the following way: El cabrón se
corrió (The bastard ran.)
As you can see, cabrón is a multi-faceted swear word. It carries varying degrees of offensiveness, usually indicated by other context clues–while it might be okay to say, “¿Qué onda, cabrón?” it’s quite another thing to say, “¡Chinga tu madre, cabrón!”
It’s always a good rule of thumb to listen to how the people around you use the word. They might use the word like an American would say, “dude.” But, if there’s any doubt about its appropriateness, it’s a good idea to find another word. In any social situation where there are children, elderly people, or employers around, it’s safe to say that the word “cabrón” isn’t going to win you any friends!