In my Spanish class, we are reading the book "La Catrina", set in Mexico. I'm unsure if it's by a native author but all of the Spanish so far seems to be totally culturally appropriate for Mexico.

Recently, I saw the phrase "coger el teléfono", totally seriously, for to take or pick up the telephone.

I know, according to the question here: ¿En qué países la palabra "coger" tiene connotaciones sexuales? and Karlomanio's comment on the first answer here: Can a person "agarrar" something? / ¿Puede una persona "agarrar" algo? that "coger" in Mexico would normally not at all be an appropriate word and other words like "agarrar" or something like that should be used.

Was this just an oversight on the part of the author for the book to be set in Mexico or is "coger el teléfono" just a normal phrase where "coger" is okay, even in Mexico?

  • 3
    According to the DAMER, the word coger conveys a sexual connotation in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. So it may certainly be an oversight by the author but let our Mexican friends confirm that.
    – Charlie
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 6:08
  • In Colombia is perfectly normal. In Mexico people will understand it but they will laugh and make fun of you.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 14:45
  • I'd have to see it in context -- what sort of character said it. Your conjecture, that the author slipped up, certainly sounds reasonable. You would do well to train yourself to use a different verb. In most family dialogues, if the phone is ringing and getting on a person's nerves, but that person can't pick up the phone right at that moment, they'll typically just holler, "Contesta" or "Teléfono" or "Que alguien conteste por favor". "Agarrar el teléfono" would be more unusual (although you're right, in other contexts "agarrar" is very common in Mexico). Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 18:47
  • @aparente001, it wasn't said by a character, it was in the author's narration. Seems to be a mistake then?
    – 米凯乐
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 19:20
  • In Argentina is "to fuck", but in Chile does not have that connotation even though Chilean are quite aware of this. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:46

5 Answers 5


In Mexico we have a word to name the play with words that involves sexual double entendre, it is albur. I think that the use of "coger" to make albur was so common that nowadays most of the people try to avoid its use orally but nobody sane born and grown in Mexico will think that the author of La Catrina used it in with a sexual double entendre.

As usual, the context is very important but also the mood and cultural background of the reader.

Regarding the La Catrina author, David Curland, I don't think that he was born in Mexico and it very unlikely that he was exposed too much to albures, so it's clear to me that his intention was to say "take the phone" without any sexual double entendre.


It is definitely not an oversight by the author since "coger" does mean "to pick up", "to grab", "to take".

You are correct in that in some Spanish speaking countries, including Mexico, it is used as a vulgar way of naming the sex act, equivalent as the "F word" in English, that does not mean it was incorrectly used in the book you are reading since it is used as its original meaning.

That being said, if you say "coger el telefono" in any of those countries, it is very likely that people might start giggling or openly tease you about it.


This seems out of place for Mexico. People are so careful to avoid things that might sound vulgar, e.g. when you go to the corner store, will the price of eggs be announced as "Huevos" or "Blanquillos"? Usually, the latter.

However, since it's the narrator, we could imagine that the narrator is from another Spanish-speaking country, and doesn't realize that it's not the natural way to express this idea in Mexico. Mexicans are remarkably tolerant of all level of mistakes with Spanish.

I don't recommend that you get used to talking that way, though. If something other than a telephone needs to be picked up, just use "Agarra." If you want to pick up your friend from the bus station, use "Recoge."

If it's the telephone, people will say, "Contesta, por favor."

  • 1
    Just out of curiousity, what would "huevos" sound like/be interpreted as?
    – 米凯乐
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 18:11
  • 1
    @米凯乐 - Testicles. Commented May 7, 2019 at 2:59

In Spain "Coger" is "to pick up". I know for sure that in México is a slang word. In México they would say "contestar al teléfono".

I don't know in other countries.


Totally Not in colloquial speech in and rarely in formal speech in Mexico

in Mexico the "coger" word has almost banished from formal conversations. instead we would use different words like "tomar"(Take) or "ir por" (going for/goint to)

Examples: voy por el telefono / i'm going to-for the phone toma el telefono / take the phone

Other words we use instead of "coger"

  • Agarrar
  • Sujetar
  • Atrapar
  • Alcanzar

Strangely we can use "recoger" but only for some specific cases:

  • For things that we need to pick up from the ground (and are not supposed to be there)

    Recoge el telefono / Pick up the phone (because is in the floor)

  • For things that we can pick up along the way or are really far away

    ¿Puedes recoger mi pedido? / Can you go pick up my order ?

  • To pick up people

    Recoge a Miguel en la escuela / Pickup miguel at the school

Recoger has also other meanings like "clean" or "tidy up"

  • For this reason another use is very comon for trash in specific

    Recoge la basura / Pickup or cleanup the trash

the reason for this is because as the word implies "Re-Coger" it referes to things that have to be "picked up" over and over.

that's the reason why is also a synonim of "order" as you are re-ordering things around and not only picking up

  • 1
    how about colgar/descolgar?
    – aris
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 22:06
  • @aris, buena observacion, pero Raravez he escuchado el "descolgar" en lugar de "tomar" el telefono,por que su uso es diferente, y es que no es para utilzarlo, si no para dejarlo descolgado. asi que no creo que sea un sinónimo o uso similar a "Coger"
    – Mike
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 23:05

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