I have translated noun "can" into Spanish. There are two expressions there: lata f, bote m.

I am studying the difference between them.

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  • lata: "Envase hecho de hojalata. Una lata de tabaco, de salmón, de pimientos." or " Tabla delgada sobre la cual se aseguran las tejas." - RAE

  • bote: "Salto que da una pelota u otro cuerpo elástico que sale despedido al chocar contra una superficie dura." or "Salto que da cualquier cuerpo elevándose desde la superficie donde se encuentra."- RAE

Hypothesis: lata refers to can of food, bote refers to garbage can.

Am I right? What is the difference?

  • 2
    Bote in this case is dle.rae.es/?id=5yboas9: Recipiente pequeño, comúnmente cilíndrico, que sirve para guardar tanto líquidos como objetos. I'd say the difference is mainly in the shape: bote is usually cylindrical, lata is usually non cylindrical (like a "lata de sardinas", but with exceptions, like a "lata de cerveza")
    – user14163
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 15:06

4 Answers 4


Relevant RAE definitions are:

  • Lata: Envase hecho de hojalata (can made of tin)
  • Bote: Recipiente pequeño, comúnmente cilíndrico, que sirve para guardar tanto líquidos como objetos. (small can, often cylindrical, used for storing liquids and objects as well)

So, Lata is a metal can, often used for drinks.

Two "latas"

And some food:

enter image description here

And bote is a can made of other materials. For example

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  • 2
    A bote is close to a jar, in that it is frequently made of glass, or a bin, in that it is frequently made of plastic, but a bote can also be made of metal, as in a bote de galletas. A lata, on the other hand, is always made of metal.
    – Yay
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 19:56

"Bote", "lata" and "pote" can be synonyms in some countries, and for adding some complications in some countries some terms are not used at all.

For example, in my country (Venezuela), the word "bote" in not used at all, "pote" is used to name almost all kinds of recipients containing any kind of liquids or arid, (eatables or not), the word "lata" is referred to any kind of recipients made of metallic materials, no matter the contents.

I believe in Central America and Mexico, the word "bote" is most used at all.

Good luck!

  • 2
    In spain, "pote" is not used. I will say more, i have never heard that word.
    – amchacon
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 21:16
  • 3
    +1 for regional differeces.In Argentina "bote" is not used (only for "boat"). We use "lata" for metal recipients and "frasco" for glass.
    – leonbloy
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 0:19

In the Rioplatense area (as @leonbloy wrote in a comment),

  • A can is called "lata".

  • Mayonnaise and jam come in a "frasco". (In some cases, also "pote".)

  • Garbage goes into "el tacho".


En Asturias (España) a la lata de refresco o de cerveza también la llamamos bote, indistintamente.

Sirvan como ejemplo un par de artículos de prensa:

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