Suppose you see a mother with a laughing little 2-year-old. In English, we might exclaim, "how cute!"

I've had trouble saying this in Spanish. The word "cute" means something like "beautiful", but it has a sense of smallness and playfulness and affection. (It can be used for an adult; I might call my wife "cute" if she's doing something silly, but in serious moments I would say something more like "beautiful".)

I've asked a couple of Spanish speakers for a Spanish equivalent for "cute", and I've looked online, but I'm not sure if any of these fit:

  • lindo or guapo - These could both describe an attractive adult, right?
  • precioso - This seems close; we might say "precious" in English about a small child.
  • ¡qué mono rico es! - This is just confusing. "What a delicious monkey"?

How would you say that a child is "cute" in Spanish?

  • Related: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/579/…
    – jrdioko
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 5:32
  • 3
    In Mexico I always notice precioso for this usage where English would have cute. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 13:54
  • 1
    "lindo or guapo - These could both describe an attractive adult, right?", not really, lindo = cute, guapo = handsome
    – vartec
    Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 11:11
  • Muy bonito = very beautiful Precioso = precious Chula = cute
    – user10905
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 3:49

11 Answers 11


All the words you provide might fit at different levels of "beautiful". Personally, I would translate "cute" as "mono" or "rico" (but never as "mono rico").

You can check the first definition of mono and the seventh of rico. They both mean, specially for children, beautiful and funny.

To make things clearer, I'm from Spain, and I don't know what's used in other countries.

  • 7
    Neither of those are used in Mexico. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 15:16
  • 1
    @AlfredoO: Added an edit about the regional use
    – MikMik
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 15:49
  • "Rico" sounds ugly for me haha I'm mexican, but if it's normal I learned something new.
    – Jaume
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 17:02
  • 2
    If you call a baby "mono" in certain regions, you are literally saying he looks like a monkey. So I would steer clear of it unless you know for certain it is used this way by your entire audience.
    – insaner
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:43
  • In Chile it is common to say tierno (tender), especially when the speaker is female (it is less common for men to judge a toddler's cuteness, and it could be seen by some as not-so-manly)
    – Rafael
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 15:14

In Mexico we use for cute:

¡Qué lindo!

¡Qué bonito!

Also we use a regionalism:

¡Qué tierno!

  • Roughly the same in Argentina ("rico" is seldom used; "mono" practically never). I don't think there an exact translation of "cute", with all the current connotations of the word (as in the "cute vs cool" alternative, etc).
    – leonbloy
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 15:17

I have always used "precioso/a" to describe cute kids. I'm in Texas, and so mostly speak with people from Mexico. I think this word is pretty safe, since it doesn't have other meanings, like monkey. I've always been scared to use that particular expression as a non-native speaker.

  • 2
    Tambien diria yo: Que chulo/a.
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 21:39

En el Paraguay dijimos "chulina", pero no sé si tiene sentido en otros lugares.


I've heard or used the following:

-¡Que mono!

-¡Que monada!

-¡Que rico!

-¡Que ricura!

-¡Que lindo!

-¡Que simpático!

About guapo/lindo when talking about and adult, they have different meanings. Guapo means handsome, but here in spain, if you say: bueno, es linda, then she is definetely NOT handsome.

¡qué mono rico es!. That's incorrect.

  • then she is definetely NOT handsome Just a reminder: "handsome" is a compliment usually aimed at men, not women. Calling a woman "handsome" could be understood as "marimacho" instead of "guapa".
    – Ramon Melo
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 21:12

First you should be aware that a lot of words in Spanish have different meanings from country to country, even on different regions on the same country. So if you want to be sure you should say

¡Qué lindo!

This would be a neutral and correct way to express How cute!, if you happen to know the local expression, well, that would be the best, but keep in mind that in Spanish the same expression in two different places could go from friendly to highly offensive.

Here are two examples:

In Cuba, you can say ¡Qué chulo! o ¡Qué chulo está ese niño!; and in Spain ¡Qué mono! is perfectly fine. But ¡Qué mono! in Cuba for sure is not the best, if the context is OK you will be fine but this means something different in Cuba (still not offensive though). By the contrary, in Spain ¡Qué chulo! won't be the best choice either.


The Oxford Spanish-English dictionary offers

mono (fam), cuco (fam), rico (CS fam)


I live in a region of Texas where mostly everyone speaks "Tex Mex". When we are trying to say "how cute!" we say "¡qué chulos!"


In Chile I've heard, as an almost drop-in replacement for cute:

monono,-a. adj. De apariencia agradable. espon. //Tiene una página de lo más monona, con los colores bien combinados//. (Romero y Torres, A patadas, p. 86).

--from Diccionario de uso del español de Chile (DUECh), MN Editorial Ltda., 2010.

This word has the advantage that it does not mean "monkey" or anything else in particular. It is used for children, for houses, for almost anything that could be cute.

Here are two more examples (from diccionariolibre.com, not as reputable as the Academia Chilena de La Lengua, to be sure; but perhaps more human, which is, after all, the proper context for cute):

Usa unas blusas bien mononas.

Es un hotelito bien monono.

In our town, indeed, I know two men, from different families, who were nicknamed "Monono" in their tender youth, and are still called by this handle.


En Colombia we might use the word: CURIOSO. Lindo o bello would be extraordinarily beautiful, bonito would a softer beauty...

  • No, en colombia y en américa latina no se dice curioso, y menos rico, decirle rico a un niño? Rico es cuando la persona es muy guapa, y en sentido sensual, no en sentido cariñoso, como se usa cute.
    – SalahAdDin
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 3:01
  • En México "curioso" se suele usar cuando no se quiere ofender porque el niño no es particularmente "bonito". También se dice "chistoso" para el mismo efecto. "Ya viste? su hijo está chistoso". Ya mas extremo, el opuesto a "cute" seria "feito". "El hijo de la vecina está feito, pobrecito".
    – DiegoDD
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 19:29

I usually use: cuqui, mono, lingo and adorable, in order from most to least used.

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