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I'm learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone. The lesson I am currently on has two examples that I don't completely understand.

La leche está fea

El pan está rico

"Fea" seems to be translated as ugly while "rico" as rich.

Are "fea" and "rico" specific to a food/drink context? Would you use "fea" only for something that does not look appetizing, and not for example to describe a person that was considered unattractive?

Likewise, is "rico" only to describe things with a strong flavor and not infer a quantity in general?

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I think that the problem is the word está which if translated to english is what confuses you, instead you should think of it as if it was sabe, but está in spanish in that context is ok too (at least in Uruguay and Argentina). – Fabian Fernandez Bargas Feb 20 '13 at 19:02
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Feo can mean ugly, disgusting, distasteful, etc. It can be applied pretty much to anything: food, people, situations, paintings...

Rico can mean two completely separate things: rich and tasty.


Él es rico = He is rich

Sabe rico = It tastes good!

In some regions, the latter meaning only applies to food; in others it applies to other feelings. I've seen it applied to sexual pleasure, for example (se siente rico -> it feels good)

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"sexual pleasure"? please, can you elaborate on that? – Juanillo Jan 31 '12 at 13:49
@Juanillo well, you could for example say ¡Qué rico! when your partner does something that causes you pleasure. – Diego Mijelshon Jan 31 '12 at 14:24
OK, I think that in Spain it's never used in that way. – Juanillo Jan 31 '12 at 15:56
@Juanillo neither in Argentina, but I definitely have heard/read it from other latin-american countries. – Diego Mijelshon Jan 31 '12 at 19:17
I use ¡Qué rico! too when I ... you know – César Jan 31 '12 at 20:45

From RAE:

feo, a.

(Del lat. foedus).

  1. adj. Desprovisto de belleza y hermosura.

  2. adj. Que causa desagrado o aversión. Acción fea.

  3. adj. De aspecto malo o desfavorable. El asunto se pone feo.

And for rico:

rico, ca.

(Del gót. reiks).

  1. adj. Adinerado, hacendado o acaudalado. U. t. c. s.

  2. adj. Abundante, opulento y pingüe.

  3. adj. Dicho de un terreno: fértil. Ricas tierras de labor.

  4. adj. Lujoso, o de mucho valor o precio. Las paredes estaban cubiertas de ricos tapices.

  5. adj. Gustoso, sabroso, agradable.

So feo/fea can be used for anything lacking beauty, or that looks bad, be it food, people, things...

And rico has two main meanings: rich and tasty.

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Thanks. What is RAE? – Sonny Ordell Jan 31 '12 at 13:08
@SonnyOrdell RAE = Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy). It's the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. – Javi Jan 31 '12 at 13:52
In "la leche está fea" the third definition of RAE must be applied: "De aspecto malo o desfavorable". In this context fea means rotten, decomposed... – JuanZe Mar 16 '12 at 12:04

An idiomatic English translation of "rico" is "loaded." Usually, this refers to money, but in can refer to other things such as (food) nutrients, or spices, or pleasure.

A "usage" of fea is "lacking." Again, this usually refers to lacking in beauty (ugly). In regard to milk, however, it could mean lacking in taste or nutrients, in a word, "thin."

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+1 Rico en vitaminas. – Alfredo Osorio Feb 1 '12 at 15:05

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