I'm pretty sure I read "comadreja tramposa" (sneaky weasel, using the feminine gender) on Dilbert; it was being applied to the pointy-haired boss.

So, assuming "comadreja" (feminine) is the name for the species, if someone were to be called that (comadreja tramposa), how would you know the person's gender? Por ejemplo, si llamo Donald T. Rump algo asi, seria "un comadrejo tramposo" y si llamo Hillbillary Clinton la misma, seria "una comadreja tramposa" o...???

And in a case like that (where a species of animal is being discussed) what if you are referring to a specific one of those critters - would you call a male weasel a "comadrejo"? And if so, when using the word "comadreja" how would a person know whether you meant the species in general/as a whole, or a female member of that species? IOW, how to differentiate between the general and the specific when discussing the literal?


3 Answers 3


In both cases (when referring to male or female people) you would use the expression corresponding to the original gender of the expression, as you are actually using a metaphor:

  • El señor Felipe es una comadreja tramposa.
  • La señora Luisa es una comadreja tramposa.

  • El señor Felipe es un bicho peligroso.

  • La señora Luisa es un bicho peligroso.

, so its use is regardless of the fact that you are using an animal or a thing:

  • Esta conferencia es un ladrillo (Literally, This conference is a brick, fig. This conference is very boring)
  • Mi padre es una fuente de alegría (My father is a source of happiness)
  • I still wonder, though, about the case where a literal male weasel is being discussed - how can you tell that it is a male? Would you say, "una comadreja macho" o algo asi? Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:05
  • 1
    @B.ClayShannon spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/15195/…
    – rsanchez
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 21:29
  • Those nouns are called "nombres epicenos" and, indeed, need the word "macho", "hembra" (for animals) or other words (e.g. "baby") in order to specify their gender. you can search for "epiceno" in spanish wikipedia for more details.
    – Roberto
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 9:25

Well, first it's tramposa.
The form doesn't change:

  1. Donald es una comadreja.
  2. Hillbillary es una comadreja.

Note that we need to use the correct form of the article, we can't put Donald es un comadreja.


No, there are male and female weasels. It is true that the name of the animal as a species is "comadreja". There are cases where the animal species can specify gender as with cats: "gato" (male) or "gata" (female). I'm not an expert but I think this correlates with the species popularity. Regardless, it is determined by common usage, and it is completely arbitrary.

The broader point is that in spanish, even when the ending of nouns is available for specifying the gender, it is not always used.

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.