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There seem to be many words (especially technical ones) in English that don't directly translate to a single word in Spanish. What about in the other direction: are there any words in Spanish that are notoriously difficult to translate into English (in other words, they can't be fully expressed in English in just a couple words)?

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closed as not constructive by Alenanno, dusan, Flimzy Jan 20 '12 at 3:05

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Are you looking for a list of such words? In that case, it can be very long and complicated. Can you narrow it a bit? Words don't always translate 1:1, but that translation depends on the context. Writing a comprehensive list here, taking into account all of that is basically impossible. – Alenanno Jan 19 '12 at 17:48
@Alenanno: Nope, not looking for an exhaustive list. Just wondering if there are any Spanish words that are very difficult to translate (for example, it would take a whole sentence to convey their meaning in English rather than a few words). – jrdioko Jan 19 '12 at 17:51
I still have the impression it's still long... I can give you 5 or 6 examples, but another user might come with other examples, so unless I go through a dictionary, I doubt you can do it in a fairly short time... Unless there is a resource somewhere, of course. :) – Alenanno Jan 19 '12 at 17:56
The names of products or meals from the country are usually quite difficult to translate, for instance: "chorizo" or "salchichón". – Javi Jan 19 '12 at 18:23
Ops, I voted for NARQ, but I meant not constructive. As you see the answers provide each different info. I don't think this is a question fit to the Q&A sites. – Alenanno Jan 19 '12 at 20:32
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Apparently duende. I always thought it just had the elf connotation.

What is the hardest word to translate from Spanish?

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I think it's much more difficult to translate it when it means "a feeling of inspiration" like in flamenco rather than when it means the mythical creature. It's even difficult to define it in Spanish. Related answer: – Javi Jan 19 '12 at 19:08

In my opinion it's the word


Lots of possible translations, lots of connotations.

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Isn't it basically variations of shameless person dependent on context? – Jaime Soto Jan 19 '12 at 20:31
I've come across lots of other translations such as: crook, scoundrel, cheeky etc.. I've heard it in contexts where the person is calling someone a sinvergüenza to insult them using one of the above translations or 'shameless' as you mentioned. Also I've heard it being used as a friendly sort of 'shameless' used to describe a kind of outgoing person who's not embarrassed by anything. – Kage Jan 19 '12 at 22:07

I think so. Cursi and quedar (like in "hemos quedado a las seis") come to mind.

Cursi is close in meaning to cheesy, corny and tacky, but also has a connotation of baroquely embellished, overdone and pretentious that these terms do not convey.

Quedar, at least in the sense that we use it in Spain, describes an intention. If I say that "hemos quedado a las seis", it means that my friends and I have agreed to meet at six. It could be roughly translated as "agree to meet".

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Isn't cursi "cheesy" or "corny"? Isn't quedado "stayed"? – jrdioko Jan 19 '12 at 18:55
quedar may be translated as "meet": We have met at 6 o'clock – Javi Jan 19 '12 at 18:58
No to both. I am editing my answer to clarify. – CesarGon Jan 19 '12 at 20:22
I might suggest kitsch as a translation of cursi that covers some of the other aspects you listed. – hippietrail Jan 20 '12 at 8:35
@hippietrail: No. Kitsch id usted in Spanish too, but that's something else. Kitsch is ugly and pretentious but not necessarily sweet to the extreme, which cursi always is. – CesarGon Jan 20 '12 at 14:16

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