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A legal case in Spain which attracted much attention in media in the UK and doubtless in other parts of the world concerned a gang rape committed by a group of men who styled themselves as "La manada". This was always translated into English as the wolfpack. Despite the efforts of ecologists to assure us that wolves are really lovely, friendly creatures they do have a fearsome reputation so the translation seemed appropriate in context. However looking at an article in El Pais I see that the bulls in the encierro "_recorren [...] en manada" which caused me to look up the word and find it just means a group of animals.

So, does the word have a sinister feel to native speakers or is it quite neutral?

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    manada is literally a pack of animals, but you can use it also as a synonym for "horde" to refer to a pack of mindless people, also it can be used as a peyorative
    – Mike
    Jul 10 '19 at 16:12
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Does “manada” have sinister overtones in Spanish?

Well, it didn't, at least not until the rape case you mentioned made it to the news.

The men who committed that crime had a chat group named "La Manada" in an obvious reference to the movie The Hangover, where the protagonists called themselves "the Wolfpack" (which was dubbed in Spain as "la Manada" — as it should).

The name "La Manada" was very graphical and catchy, so the media started using it to refer to any group of men involved in a gang rape: la Manada de Manresa, la Manada de Callosa, la Manada de Cambrils...

There are indeed some pejorative uses of manada that predate this one:

  • "manada de", functioning as a kind of qualifier: "del metro salió una manada de gente";
  • "en manada", functioning as an adverbial expression: "salieron por la puerta de clase en manada"

Both are used to talk pejoratively about people moving in a rather mindlessly way, like a herd: people coming out of a subway during rush hour, kids storming out of the classroom when the bell rings...
However, we should notice that in those cases manada is always part of an expression: manada de ...; en manada. This is different than using just manada as a noun.

With that in mind, I wouldn't say that the word manada by itself has sinister overtones, it just means a herd of animals; but it certainly cannot be used to refer to a group of people anymore, at least not in a light tone like in the movie.

Whether this new meaning will stick or not, time will tell.


PS: Since this word is now used to talk about man-on-woman rape, it is worth noting that women may get a different vibe from the word manada than men do. My answer is necessarily constrained by my perception of the world as a man; it would be really good to get some comments or answers from women as well.

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    I have to say that this word can be used to refer to any large group of people in a pejorative way, without the sexual assault meaning: Fueron al recital en manada, subir/bajar del tren en manada.
    – Gustavson
    Jul 10 '19 at 20:56
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    I would specifically restrict this answer to Spain. Over here manada can be, as @Gustavson says, a pejorative for "group of people", following the same principle as calling someone un animal. It can even be endearing (e.g. when speaking of noisy, disorderly, but mostly harmless people, like teenagers).
    – pablodf76
    Jul 10 '19 at 22:42
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    An unmistakably negative word would have been "jauría".
    – Gustavson
    Jul 11 '19 at 1:22
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    I think the answer would be strengthened by adding the material in the comment ("that pejorative use is always as a modifier etc."). // I think you mean herd -- which is a bit more specific than "group." A herd behaves in a special way. A group might not have any particular characteristic behavor. Jul 11 '19 at 3:25
  • @pablodf76 although the example I gave was from Spain I was quite happy to receive comments about usage outside Spain. The problem is that we have tags for questions but not for answers.
    – mdewey
    Jul 12 '19 at 14:06

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