Spanish is a happy language

Dictionary: List of Spanish words with double meaning

You might think you know the meaning of these words... but they have double meanings that change the sentence completely. Watch out!


Muñeca has two meanings in Spanish: wrist and doll. We are not entirely sure how the same word came to mean wrist and doll at the same time, because the two words seem completely unrelated. Just don’t find it odd if someone is measuring the blood pressure in their muñeca, okay?


“Nada” means nothing in Spanish. But it’s also a form of the verb “nadar” in the Present, e.g. “Él nada en el mar” (he swims in the sea) or “Ella no nada” (she doesn’t swim). So if someone tells you that “el pez nada” it doesn’t mean the fish isn’t worth a thing! They’re only stating the obvious, which is that the fish swims.


Conocer has a double meaning in Spanish, since it can mean both “to meet” and “to know”. While these meanings are related (which makes much more sense than our previous two examples!), they can also cause a real confusion during normal conversations. For example, “conocí a Fernando” means “I’ve met Fernando”, while “conozco a Fernando” means “I know Fernando - I’ve met him” (see how the meanings overlap in English as well?). On the other hand, we can also say “conozco Argentina muy bien”, which means  “I know Argentina really well.”


Those who have studied Portuguese will recognize this word. “Para” means “for” (expresses direction, e.g. “Voy para Madrid” - I’m going to Madrid) or “to/so that”(expresses cause, e.g. “Lo hago para que él no se enfade” - I do it so that he doesn’t get mad). But “para” can also be a form of the verb “parar” (to stop), e.g. “Él para” (He stops).

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Most likely, “vaquero” comes from the word “vaca” (cow) and it should mean “he who takes care of the cows” - or, in American terms, a cowboy. Keeping with the American influence, we also use “vaqueros” for “jeans”, e.g. “¡Me gustan mucho tus vaqueros!” (I love your jeans!).


“Banco” doesn’t have a double meaning - it has multiple meanings! One possible meaning is bank, e.g. “Mañana tengo que ir al banco” (Tomorrow I must go to the bank.”) The other possible meaning is bench or stool, e.g. “Carla está sentada en el banco” (“Carla is seated on the stool”) or “Hay bancos en el parque” (“There are benches in the park”). Another possible (yet less common) used would be “banco de peces”, which is a school of fish (also called “cardumen”).


Like banco, “caña” has multiple meanings. “Caña” alone is usually fishing rod. But it can also appear as “caña de azúcar”, which means sugarcane (azúcar=sugar). In some regions of Spain, a “caña” is a glass of beer, e.g. “tomar una caña” (drink a beer).


“Cola” has two meanings. One of them is queue or line, e.g. “Había una cola grande en el supermercado” (There was a big line at the supermarket). The other meaning is “glue”. So we’re guessing people are glued to each other when they stand in lines?


“Padre” has two meanings that serve as a great testimony of the influence of the church in the Spanish language. “Padre” means “father/dad” but it can also mean “priest”, e.g. “El padre del pueblo” (The priest of the village). Another word for priest would be “cura”.


“Hoja” means sheet, e.g. “Una hoja de papel” (a sheet of paper), and leaf, e.g. “Una hoja en el árbol” (a leaf on the tree).

There are many more words with multiple meanings in Spanish! Is there one that has particularly confused you? Share them in the comment section down below.

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