I am currently using "The Red-Hot Book of Spanish Slang and Idioms" to supplement my Spanish language learning. It says that "los trapos" (with a literal translation of rags) means clothing in slang. It has the example sentence "Me compré algunos trapos." meaning "I bought some clothes." Has anyone ever heard trapos used this way and if so is it only used to refer to trashy clothes or just all clothes in general? Thanks.

  • 2
    It makes perfect sense for us, mexicans. We use "trapos" as informal term for clothes. Another example: "Se me hacía tarde, así que me puse los primeros trapos que encontré (I was running late so I put on the first clothes I found)"
    – Jose Maria
    May 26, 2016 at 3:18

4 Answers 4


Here in Spain the term is known, but I think it is a bit pejorative term, and it is not used when you speak about clothes in a standard way.

Some examples:

  • Pero si apenas me he comprado un par de trapitos...

  • ¿Qué son esos trapos que llevas puestos?

In both cases, the term refers to low quality, cheap clothes (always from a subjective point of view).


Soy de Argentina y acá por lo menos no se utiliza y tampoco lo había escuchado con ese significado.

Por ahí si te interesa acá llamamos "trapitos" a las personas que te cuidan el auto en la calle (lo cual es medio relativo porque en realidad les tenés que dar plata para que no te rompan el auto ellos).

  • ¡Curioso! Aquí en España a estas personas les llamamos gorrillas.
    – fedorqui
    May 26, 2016 at 7:43
  • 1
    Jajaja aca llamamos gorillas a la gente que tiene afinidad con un partido politico particular de derecha
    – Marco
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:34

Dysphemisms (ie, using a dismissive word advisedly rather than another neutral) are especially used to bypass painful or taboo concepts. But sometimes we find "soft" examples in the colloquial language, with sense of humor and almost affectionate.

Apart from "trapos" (rags) to refer to clothing, also come to mind these (in Chilean colloquial speak):

Vieja (old woman), referring to the wife or girlfriend.

Tarro (jar): PC or tower computer, including new and super fast

Cacharro (jalopy): a car.

It is important that "los trapos" (or "la vieja", etc.) are mine. It may be that other person feel offended if you tell her clothes are "trapos".


If you want an example, you could search the song of the Spanish music group Mecano, Busco Algo Barato:

Los almacenes de la calle 20

son el museo de toda la gente

cosas baratas que despiertan la atención

entre los trapos y los camisones

la gente busca nuevas sensaciones

comprar barato da una extraña excitación

Busco,busco, busco entre los trapos...

  • Interesante respuesta. Intenta de todas formas dar respuesta a lo que se pregunta: ¿qué significa los trapos? La letra de la canción es un buen recurso si lo utilizas para enlazar una explicación.
    – fedorqui
    May 27, 2016 at 9:48

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