What is the difference between 'oreja' and 'oído'?

Both mean ear, no?

2 Answers 2


Oído: the whole organ or organs of hearing
Oreja: just the "external ear".

This is the definition of ear according to the Webster dictionary:

ear noun \ˈir\
Definition of EAR
1 a : the characteristic vertebrate organ of hearing and equilibrium consisting in the typical mammal of a sound-collecting outer ear separated by the tympanic membrane from a sound-transmitting middle ear that in turn is > separated from a sensory inner ear by membranous fenestrae
b : any of various organs (as of a fish) capable of detecting vibratory motion

2: the external ear of humans and most mammals

According to this, oído refers to definition 1, and oreja to definition 2.

  • 5
    "oído" can also be the sense of hearing.
    – Javi
    Feb 8, 2012 at 8:26
  • @Javi: Yes, and it's also the participle of oír, and something about firearms and explosives. But regarding the difference between oído and oreja, I think the anatomical meanings are just enough. By the way, oreja also means "sentido de la audición", so in that meaning they're just the same.
    – MikMik
    Feb 8, 2012 at 8:53
  • 2
    RAE can say they are the same, but at least in Spain people uses only "oído" for that meaning. "Los cinco sentidos son vista, olfato, gusto, tacto y oído".
    – Javi
    Feb 8, 2012 at 9:05
  • I'm not a native speaker, but it feels weird to me to use "oreja" meaning the sense of hearing...
    – Alenanno
    Mar 12, 2012 at 23:20

The oído is related to hearing and the inner ear (mis oídos te escuchan); the oreja is the external ear (la oreja de Van Gogh).

  • 1
    Welcome, David. This answer is a bit minimalist and redundant, I suppose, but I think the mnemonic, la oreja de Van Gogh, could be helpful for people. Aug 25, 2019 at 0:21

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