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?

  • 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).
    – kzfabi
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 19:02

3 Answers 3


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)

  • "sexual pleasure"? please, can you elaborate on that?
    – Juanillo
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:49
  • @Juanillo well, you could for example say ¡Qué rico! when your partner does something that causes you pleasure. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 14:24
  • OK, I think that in Spain it's never used in that way.
    – Juanillo
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 15:56
  • @Juanillo neither in Argentina, but I definitely have heard/read it from other latin-american countries. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 19:17
  • 6
    I use ¡Qué rico! too when I ... you know
    – César
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 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.

  • @SonnyOrdell RAE = Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy). It's the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language.
    – Javi
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 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
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 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."

  • 1
    +1 Rico en vitaminas. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 15:05

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.