Four different words, same meaning. Both according to Wiktionary as well as Google Images. Which one's preferred in regular speech in Mexico? I don't want to know what official dictionaries or RAE say. I want to know what people say.

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    The RAE is descriptive, not prescriptive, so I'm not sure what you mean by what dictionaries or the Academies "dictate". You'll find that throughout Latin America, all four words are used, though gafas is the least common generally, and the usage boundaries aren't nicely bound by country borders. Accordingly, though the DRAE lists them as all synonyms of each other and doesn't specify geographic information because of their generalized use. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 6:25
  • @guifa Modified the language
    – TheLearner
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 13:09
  • Note to everyone who has contributed to this question: The question asked specifically for Mexico, then generally for all of Latin America, which is too broad (see this meta post). Therefore I have also removed the answers, which were not technically incorrect, under the old question, but now which do not answer the new specific question. Feel free to update your answer, if you wish, and flag for moderator attention to undelete any deleted answers.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 14:58

5 Answers 5


In North México we say "lentes" for glasses, and "lentes de sol / lentes oscuros" for sunglasses.

  • This is also valid in southern Mexico.
    – Roflo
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 18:19

This Ray-Ban site for Mexico is using gafas de sol for sunglasses, but lentes for the lenses. Costo México seems to be using lentes for both seeing glasses and sunglasses. It seems Mexican Spanish favors lentes but they understand both gafas and lentes

If you want additional info about other speaking countries:

In his song Pedro Navaja the Panamanian salsa singer Rubén Baldes sings that Pedro Navaja uses

Lentes oscuros pa' que no sepan que está mirando sunglasses so they don't know what he is looking at

Lentes is widely used and understood in Latin America.

In Spain, where I'm from, we use gafas for seeing glasses, sunglasses and even googles and the like (gafas de bucear). If you are putting them in your face, they are called gafas.

Lente (in singular) can be used for each one of the glasses that are part of an optic instrument, such a telescope. Although lentes in plural, could be understood as a word used to refer to eyeglasses, spaniards don't use this word to refer to eyeglasses. "lentillas" is a way to designate contact lenses (lentes de contacto).

Lentes, anteojos and espejuelos sound archaic in the Castilian Spanish. Hearing the word makes me think of really old fashioned glasses. To add confusion, according to the DRAE the "espejuelos" can also be the lenses that are put in the "anteojos", but can be understood as a synonym of anteojos too (as opposed to the gafas, which are cristales put in a montura (frame). It seems that gafa (in singular) can also be understood as the piece used to hold the anteojos to your ears).

  • 1
    "we uses glasses for seeing glasses"... un duende te mezcló los idiomas :)
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 20:49
  • 2
    @Rodrigo, gracias, ese no lo habría visto ni con gafas ni sin ellas.
    – Diego
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 20:59
  • [eyeglasses, not seeing glasses]. Una lente is a lens in English. The lenses in my glasses.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 15:12

I think that the first 3, although have different matices in different places, can be understanded if you interchanged it; with the last one ("espejuelos"), at least in Argentina, I think you won't be.

  • "Anteojos" (before eyes) is a very descriptive name, that can be understand by anyone who speak Spanish. AFAIK, it's only used for the complete device.

  • "Gafas", which also refer to the complete device, although not used in some places, it is known in many Latinamerican countries because of Spanish and Mexican movie translations.

  • "Lente" in a stricto sensu refers to the pieces of glass which has some optical properties (meaning in Physics). In some places it is used colloquially as the whole device.

But "espejuelos" literally means little mirrors; so, if it's not used with that meaning, it will be very confusing.


Lentes is the widespread common use word for Mexico (i.e. any Mexican will accept the word and understand it without giving it a second thought.) When referring to contact lens the only acceptable form in Mexico is lentes de contacto.

Por favor, dame los lentes   
Necesito lentes para leer
Estoy pensando en comprar unos lentes de contacto
Debes usar lentes para el sol para proteger tus ojos.

The word lentillas is not used in Mexico.

Gafas de sol is the most common way to use the word gafas. The word is certainly understood and also can be used for framed prescription glasses but is not common in this way.

The word anteojos is not commonly used. Yet, I wouldn't consider it archaic because some people use this word on a regular basis and most Mexicans understand it. It's maily used for prescription eyeglasses but anteojos de sol is also acceptable.

The word espejuelos is definitely archaic when referring to eyeglasses. I would say that a considerable amount of people in Mexico would have problems to understanding it without giving it a thought.


Does anybody know that the temples on reading glasses are called in Spanish? the arms are known in English as the temples.

  • 1
    If you have a new question please ask it as such as nobody can answer and answer.
    – mdewey
    Commented Feb 8 at 16:02

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