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I recently heard dichoso used to mean feliz. Looking up dichoso in a dictionary shows it means "happy" (or "blessed"). What is the difference between dichoso, feliz, and alegre to mean "happy"? Are they synonyms, or do they have slightly different connotations?

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In Spain, "dichoso" is archaic or jocose. "Alegre" or "contento" usually refer to a temporary mood, while "feliz" denotes a more permanent state. In fact, "alegre" corresponds more to cheerful than to happy.

Examples:

  • Ya terminé el trabajo por hoy.
  • ¡Dichoso tú! -> (- I finished my work for today, - You lucky bastard!)

Estoy contento de que vengas -> I'm glad you came. Es un niño muy alegre -> He's a cheerful child. Parece alegre, pero en realidad no es feliz -> He seems cheerful, but he is not really happy

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I really don't see a major difference between the 3 words when they are used to indicate happiness; however, alegre is used in contexts in which feliz and dichoso cannot be used or it would have a different meaning. For example:

Ese camisa es de colores muy alegres

Ella es una mujer de la vida alegre

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"Dichoso" and "feliz" are basically the same, although "feliz" is used more often. They represent mostly an inner state. "Alegre" is often used to express an exterior behavior more temporal than the others.

For example:

"Soy alegre" could mean that I am always smiling, with positive energy, and so on (exterior signs of happiness).

But "Soy feliz" means that I am happy, or have peace, not only right now, but in general in my life and it does not necessarily imply that I am showing exterior signs of my happiness to the world.

In the other hand: "estoy alegre", "estoy feliz" or "estoy dichoso", have more or less the same meaning: "I am happy" (now).

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