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Both mean zipper but which one is prevalent in regular speech? Is there any subtle difference between the words as in the type of zipper they refer to? I am particularly interested in Mexican usage.

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Cierre is an easier, lazier way to refer to zipper. It literally means close; a conjugation of to close.

Cremallera is actually a zipper, the mechanism use to join openings in fabrics.

  • Is that the regular Mexican usage? – TheLearner Dec 1 '14 at 0:19
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    Seeing as cierre is easier to say than cremallera, I'd assume it's pretty universal. Cremallera sounds more formal.. as in, the word used in the zipper industry. – dockeryZ Dec 1 '14 at 0:27
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In Spain is much more common to hear cremallera. You could use cierre and people would still understand you, provided that there is enough context

Se me ha enganchado el cierre.

Actually, the definition of cremallera is

el cierre que se aplica a una abertura longitudinal cierre en prendas de vestir o bolsos.

which implies that other pieces of clothing without a zipper can be said to have a "cierre", which may consist in buttons, velcro or other things. Actually it seems that in some places, like Argentina, Perú and Uruguay the cremallera is known as cierre relámpago.

According to wikipedia the zipper is known as

  • Cremallera in Spain and Colombia
  • Cierre (or cierre relámpago) in Paraguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Perú, Venezuela and Uruguay
  • Zíper or zipper in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras Nicaragua, Panamá and Dominican Republic

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