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Wiktionary lists three possible translations for "binoculars":

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  • gemelos
  • binoculares
  • prismáticos

Google translate prefers binoculares, but also offers prismáticos as an alternative.

Which is the most universally preferred translation?

  • Also: binóculo, gemelos prismáticos. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Aug 10 '15 at 17:53
  • Aunque en la práctica binoculares y prismáticos son lo mismo, hay que aclarar que algunos binoculares no son prismáticos. Por ejemplo, el objeto de tu foto y los conocidos como "binocurales de ópera" o "de teatro", si los desmontas no tienen ningún prisma que facilite la visión estereoscópica. La luz pasa directa. En realidad son dos telescopios, uno para cada ojo. – Rodrigo Aug 11 '15 at 13:25
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My two cents: I favor prismáticos in Castillian Spanish.

To me gemelos, although can be used in this context is a word that makes me think of other things, like cufflinks (or twins). Also, I think that gemelos are a smaller set of binoculars (the ones you would see rich people have at their balconies at the opera house in the movies).

Binoculares is perfectly fine, but would be my second choice after prismáticos. I don't have a rationale for this, and may change among countries.

To answer your question I used google trends for binoculares and prismáticos and the latter seems to be used almost exclusively in Spain (plus Argentina, Chile and Mexico), so I guess binoculares is more widely accepted, if we are to listen to Google trends.

I would compare it too with "gemelos", but as you know that is also Spanish for "twins", "cufflinks" and some muscles in your legs (calves), so Google trends would not help here.

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  • RAE's frequency list agrees for «binoculares» vs «prismáticos». I didn't look for «gemelos» because I have no way to exclude the «twins» sense. Also, «anteojos» seems quite frequent too. – guillem Aug 10 '15 at 20:39
  • @guillem Gracias!! No conocía ese recurso de la RAE. – Diego Aug 10 '15 at 21:06
  • @guillem yo sacaría "anteojos" ya que es más usado para hacer referencia a lentes o gafas recetadas. – Sergio Velásquez Aug 11 '15 at 2:28
  • @sergio-velásquez aunque el DRAE favorece la visión de larga distancia en sus dos primeras entradas (y en España, cuando he oído la palabra, ha sido ¿siempre? con ese sentido), veo que Google Images da muchas gafas y pocos binoculares. No sé si es una diferencia dialectal, pero supongo que esa debe de ser la razón de la alta frecuencia. – guillem Aug 11 '15 at 7:09
  • En Chile ambas palabras se usan, pero suenan "técnicas". Generalmente decimos "me compré unos largavistas". – Rodrigo Aug 11 '15 at 13:31
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"Binoculares" is the most universally preferred translation. In other countries, it's also known as "Largavistas".

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Binoculares is used pretty widely, I've read prismáticos in literature from Spain and Argentina, but binoculares is probably more widely understood. As for gemelos, I've never encountered it in this context.

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