Playing cards A-10 are named expectedingly, As, followed by dos through diez. But the Jack, Queen and King are called (at least in my experience):

  • Jota
  • Qüina
  • Rey

I can understand calling a card by the letter on it, but only Jota does that.

I can understand using a loanword, but only Qüina does that.

And I can understand translating the word, but only Rey does that.

What gives?

  • 3
    It's the first time I read Quena for the Queen; are you sure about that name? Anyway, I've always heard (and used) Jota, Cu and Ka (the name of the corresponding letter) to refer to the Jack, Queen, and King, respectively. Jan 7, 2012 at 5:44
  • 1
    I witnessed a card game here in Guadalajara with a Mexican family in which they used those names. And when I questioned them about the names, they didn't offer any alternate naming scheme. Of course this doesn't mean these are by any means "official" names :)
    – Flimzy
    Jan 7, 2012 at 5:51
  • Ah, I see; I just wanted to be sure since I had never heard Quena for the Queen before. Jan 7, 2012 at 5:53
  • 1
    I've always used Jota, Qüina (note the "ü") and Rey.
    – dusan
    Jan 7, 2012 at 15:01
  • @dusan: Thanks, that's probably what I meant, too...
    – Flimzy
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


I don't know about Mexico, but in Spain they usually play with two kinds of playing cards, the French deck and the Spanish deck:

  • French deck: there are Corazones (Hearts), Picas (Spades), Diamantes/Rombos (Diamonds) and Tréboles (Clubs). The cards are named As - Dos - Tres - ... - Diez - Jota/Sota - Cu/Reina - Ka/Rey. The name of the Jack (Sota) comes from the similarity to the Spanish 10 card, the sota.

  • Spanish deck: there are Bastos, Oros, Copas and Espadas. The cards are named As - Dos - Tres - ... - Nueve - Sota - Caballo - Rey. In most traditional games you take out the eight and nine, and play only with 40 cards.

I know this doesn't answer your question, but these are the names of the cards where I'm from. The names you heard could be very local. Even here in Spain each family has its own names for the cards, and its own rules for the games. This can cause confusion when playing for the first time with other people because everyone wants to play with his own rules (the rule usually is to play with las reglas de la casa).

  • +1 Excellent answer.
    – CesarGon
    Jan 7, 2012 at 14:34
  • BTW, espadas is obviously Spades in English. The others aren't so clear, but relying on what I found via Reverso and my own two eyes, bastos is Clubs. The suit oros best equates to Diamonds, and that leaves copas, which, by default (and other good symbolic reasons), best equates to Hearts. Nothing too scientific about that ... just my observations, so if you take issue with my comment here, please bear that in mind.
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 19, 2019 at 23:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.