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Gerald Erichsen

Palabras Compuestas Often Clever

By June 30, 2011

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If you had never seen the word abrelatas before, you might be able to figure out what it means by breaking it into two words: abre (it opens) and latas, cans. Un abrelatas, then, is a can opener. Spanish has dozens of compound words that are formed in the same way, and many of them are quite clever.

The lesson linked to above has most of my favorites, but here are a few more, just for fun: mondadientes, toothpick (it peels teeth); matambre, a type of South American meat dish (it kills hunger); matasuegras, a type of horn that may be blown at a celebration (it kills mothers-in-law); soplamocos, a strike to the nose (it blows mucus); and tirachinas, slingshot (it throws pebbles).

Do you have a favorite? Share it in the comments below.


July 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm
(1) Greg says:

I like pintalabios – it paints lips

July 11, 2011 at 8:20 am
(2) Olga says:

Some of my favorites are…

sacapuntas – sharpener
limpiabotas- shoeshine boy
parabrisas- windshield
buscapersonas- pager

July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am
(3) Olga says:

sacapuntas- takes out points —sharpener
limpiabotas —- shoeshine boy
parabrisas —- (stops the wind) whindshield
buscapersonas —- searchs for people— pager

March 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm
(4) Carlos says:

“Pintalabios” is actually quite seldomly used… Lápiz de labios is the usual way to call it. You can also call it “rouge” (the French word for it).

Los Picapiedras – The Flintstones (cartoon TV series) ;-D

Malentendido – misunderstanding

Bocacalle – entrance to a street

Mediodía, medianoche, bienvenido, malhablado, malcriado.

Correveidile (compound word made out of four words!) A gossipy person

Tejemaneje – scheme, intrigue

Arcoíris – rainbow

Caracúlico – ill tempered or in a bad mood.

And so many others…

March 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm
(5) Carlos says:

Era mediodía y allí, en la bocacalle, justo en la esquina del café teatro, estaba él, boquiabierto como siempre, malhumorado y caracúlico. Yo ya estaba supercansada de este matasanos carilargo con vocación de aguafiestas. Así que, con mi mejor cara de yonofui, me le aparecí de la mano del hinchabolas de mi ex marido con el traje de hombre araña, para hacerle creer que estaba tan hiperchiflada que no valía la pena seguir aguantándome. Ni un correcaminos se hubiera escapado tan rápido.

This text was taken from this marvelous site: http://www.maritacazapalabras.com.ar/palabras_compuestas.htm

September 13, 2012 at 11:19 am
(6) Vladimir says:

I like guardaespaldas (bodyguard) and quehaceres (~activities)

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