I want to say "what the hell", "what the f***", or "what the heck" in Spanish and have come across the following translations:

¡Qué mierda!

¡Qué demonios!

Which of these is the most natural translation to convey what I am trying to say? Is there yet another translation what is used more than the above two? Please mention your country so that one can understand what region your response pertains to.

  • 2
    "¡Qué demonios!" is a deliberately bland / inoffensive / archaic way of saying it, used frequently in television and movies as a sort of "lowest common denominator" exclamation to avoid causing offense to anyone at all. Similarly bland exclamations: ¡Rayos!, ¡Caracoles! Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 23:09

4 Answers 4


I'm from the north of Spain.

The most usual translations here for "What the hell" and derivatives could be:

  • ¿Qué cojones?
  • ¡Pero qué cojones!
  • ¿Qué coño?
  • ¡Pero qué coño!
  • ¿Qué mierda?
  • ¡Pero qué mierda!
  • ¿Qué puta mierda?
  • ¡Pero qué puta mierda!

Usually the expressions starting with "Pero" are used as an exclamation, while the expressions without it usually conforms questions, like in "¿Qué cojones está pasando?", although it's not always the case.

  • 2
    Highlight that theses phrases vary greatly depending on the area even within the same country Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 14:54
  • 2
    IN Cuba we also say ¿Qué pinga es esto? Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 0:50
  • In most of Spain these are valid. The last pair is just an enhancement on the previous.
    – Envite
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 7:11
  • "Qué demonios" es la traducción que se suele hacer para series y películas.
    – Darkhogg
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 7:31

In Mexico we say:

  • ¡Qué chingados!
  • ¡Pero qué chingados!
  • ¡Qué mierda!
  • ¡Pero qué mierda!
  • ¡Qué pedo!
  • ¡Pero qué pedo!
  • ¡Qué puta madre!
  • ¡Pero qué puta madre!

Sometimes "chingados" is spelled and/or pronounced as "chingaos".

  • 2
    +"¡qué mádres!" o "¡qué carajo!"
    – c.p.
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 21:00

I have heard (and seen on subtitles):
Yo he oído (y visto en subtítulos):

  • ¿Qué diablos?
  • ¿Qué rayos?

on American movie / TV show DVDs.
en DVDs de películas y programas de televisión americanos.


In Argentina:

¡Qué mierda!
¡Pero qué mierda!
¡Qué carajo!

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