In English, when talking about common viruses people get, there are generally two categories:

  • a cold is generally mild and can come with runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat etc.
  • a flu is generally more severe and can bring fever, chills, fatigue etc.

In my experience, in Spanish both of these tend to be wrapped up in one word: gripe.

What are the official and informal ways of referring to these diseases? What regional variants exists?

  • Even in English, I can't remember the last time an Australian complained of having a more cold! (-: Dec 30, 2016 at 17:09
  • I am told that in Ecuador, its like Chile mentioned above.
    – user19716
    Jun 28, 2018 at 16:28

6 Answers 6


At least in Mexico which is where I come from:

As you say gripe or gripa are used to refer to both the common cold and the flu. This is the colloquial way of saying it.

It would be more correct to refer to the common cold as

resfriado / catarro

and to the flu as

gripe / gripa / influenza

but it is not that common, like I said, where I come from.

  • 9
    In Spain, to have a cold is "tener catarro" or "estar constipado" (not to be confused with "constipated", which in Spain is "estreñido"), "resfriado" is more "formal". Flu is just "gripe", not gripa nor influenza. So, in Spain we make the difference between cold and flu.
    – JoulSauron
    Jul 3, 2012 at 20:14

Here in Chile, we say:

  • Resfrío (common) or Resfriado (less common): cold

  • Gripe (common) or Influenza (less common, because gripe and influenza are actually different): flu


In Dominican Republic, we differentiate between having a cold (tener catarro) and the flu (gripe). Influenza is use more in reference to a pandemic type of flu.


Well... I'm from Mexico but where I come frome we just say "gripa" for cold and "gripa" for flu [haha] but we say that it was a very bad "gripa" or "gripa de perro" (dog's flu) very commonly used. There are other words but those are used in the TV or other countries.



  • catarro, constipado, romadizo, coriza, pasmo, fluxión, decenso 0
  • enfriamiento, resfriamiento, resfriado, resfrío, resfrío común


  • gripe, gripa,1 gripola 4
  • influenza, resfriado, trancazo,2 monga 3

0. Desusado
1. México, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador
2. Coloq.
3. Puerto Rico
4. El Salvador


Trancazo is another term for "gripe"

2. m. coloq. gripe.

and it is often used (informally) in Spain ("¡Tengo un trancazo!").

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