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To give a bit of context, in the line:

Recibió una lluvia de tomatazos. ("He was pelted with tomatoes.")

The word tomatazos is used rather than tomates. What is the meaning of tomatazo?

I've consulted dictionaries and SpanishDict and am no closer to an answer.

  • You've got two great answers but I just want to add, take anything and make it an instrument of hurt or destruction, and that makes it an "-azo." For example, take the elbow. Normally it just minds its own business. Bump into someone with it, on purpose or by accident, and you can call that action a "codazo." Also, take any piece of fruit, unripe, ripe, past its prime, or downright rotten, and throw it -- now you have "-azo." If you dislike Stravinsky's latest ballet and throw tomato missiles at the dancers, you are hurling "tomatazos." – aparente001 Feb 10 '18 at 20:26
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The suffix -azo (or -aza) can be used to make sustantives with the meaning of "a hit given with (something)":

-azo, za

  1. suf. A veces significa golpe dado con lo designado por la base derivativa. Porrazo, almohadillazo.

So, from tomate + -azo we get tomatazo, meaning "a hit given with a tomato".

Your translation is replacing the suffix with its actual meaning. A more literal translation (though I like yours more) would be "He received a rain of tomato hits".

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To add more information to @walen's answer, I'd like to add that the RAE's Spanish Grammar contains a whole chapter about the -azo suffix (link in Spanish). It basically says that the -azo suffix comes from latin -acĕus and it forms a number of compounds in Spanish that refer to hits and sudden actions. So cabezazo means a hit with (or in) the head. The base word is usually a noun but it can also be a verb, as in frenazo (a sudden braking).

The producivity of this suffix is outstanding, as you can form compounds with almost every noun: zapatazo would mean a hit with a shoe, and not a big shoe. So the Gramática warns us that due to the big amount of possible compounds it is not possible to register them all in the dictionary.

The compound forms that refer to hits come mainly from weapons, instruments, utensils and physical objects in general: banderillazo, barquinazo, bastonazo, batazo, botellazo, cabezazo, cachiporrazo, cantazo, cuentazo, culatazo, escobazo, fierrazo, filazo, garrotazo, ladrillazo, macanazo, machetazo, martillazo, palazo, palmetazo, pepazo, piquetazo, puyazo, quiñazo, rolazo, sartenazo, talegazo, tetuntazo, toletazo, trancazo, varetazo and many more. You can also use parts of the body: codazo, puñetazo, rodillazo, testarazo, zarpazo, derechazo, zurdazo.

Please check the link above to get more information about the subject (quite interesting even for Spanish-language natives).

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