Spain Sunday: The Thousand Faces of Cojones

Back when I was teaching a conversation class for my coworkers I decided to have them make presentations. These presentations could be on any subject. Where were you born? What’s your favorite movie? Teach us about something related to your field of study, etc.

It motivated them to study at home, gave them a chance to speak in class, and let me get away with planning less complicated lessons.

One guy (who we will call Jorge) decided to do his lesson on one of the more interesting quirks of the Spanish language: Spanish idioms that use the word “Cojones”.

Idioms, if you are curious, are phrases such as “It’s raining cats and dogs!”. It is not literally raining cats and dogs, we just all understand that the speaker means that it is raining a lot. It’s just a phrase.

And “cojones” simply means balls. Not like “hey, pass me the ball, I’m open” no.

Testes.

And it turns out, there are a lot of phrases in Spanish that use the word “cojones”.

Like A LOT.

I’ll only write about the ones I learned about in class, and the ones that I am more or less sure were translated well.

Me importa tres cojones.

  • Literal Meaning: It matters to me three balls.
  • Actual Meaning: I don’t give a f*ck
    • Francamente quierida, me importa tres cojones.
      • “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn f*ck.”

IMG_20180804_112024

Cuesta un cojón.

  • Literal Meaning: It costs a ball.
  • Actual meaning: pretty obviously, it costs an arm and a leg.
    • Los zapatos cuestan un cojón.
      • The shoes cost an arm and a leg.

Tiene dos cojones.

  • Literal Meaning: He (or she) has two balls
  • Actual meaning: No change here, he (or she) has got balls

IMG_20180804_112552

Descojonarse.

  • Literal Meaning: This is a bit of a stretch, but basically, “to de-ball a thing, possibly yourself”.
  • Actual Meaning: Something super funny, hilarious, etc. Or, to laugh your head off.
    • ¡Estos fotos son el descojono!
      • These photos are hilarious!

¡Por cojones!

  • Literal Meaning: For balls.
  • Actual meaning: Because I say so!
    • ¿Por que? “¡POR COJONES!”
      • Why?? “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

Estoy hasta los cojones.

  • Literal Meaning: I am as far as the balls
  • Actual meaning: I am fed up.
    • ¡Estoy hasta los cojones de esa puerta!
      • I have had it up to here with that door!

IMG_20180804_112016

¡Manda Cojones!

  • Literal Meaning: Send balls
  • Actual meaning: OMG, I can’t believe it” Or any other general phrase used when something surpriseing happens.
    • -Santa Clause is sitting in your living room- You. “¡MANDA COJONES!”

I read an interesting (but maybe false) theory on the origin of this phrase. It goes back to the 1600s when King Charles the II ruled Spain (and most of Europe, oddly enough).

claudio_coello_-_charles_ii_-_google_art_project

Besides being wildly inbred, he had a passion for eating eggs, but was super picky about where those eggs came from. If they weren’t Spanish eggs, he couldn’t stand them. He also spent a lot of time traveling outside of Spain, ignoring the many economic problems his country had at the time. He would sent letters to the people he left in charge talking about anything and everything, except these problems. And he always signed off each letter with the phrase “Oh, and send eggs”, asking for them to literally ship him some more Spanish eggs.

So the person he left in charge would get these letters, and read them out loud for the entire court to hear. As he would read, he would get progressively angrier that the king was still ignoring the problems. Towards the end of the letter the poor guy would be shouting in frustration. And since the king always ended his letters with “Send eggs.” the man reading would shout, “MANDA HUEVOS!” at the end of each letter. People who had no idea about the king’s infatuation with Spanish eggs must have figured that the guy reading the letter was just expressing his surprise at the king’s apathy towards the kingdom, hence the phrase and it’s meaning.

Huevos is a more covert way of saying cojones, and the phrase exists with both words.

¡Cojonudo!

  • Literal Meaning: The -udo suffix usually means that something has the quality of whatever comes before the suffix. So basically, He/She/It has the quality of balls.
  • Actual meaning: Great! Brilliant! Wow! It’s a stand alone phrase to convey excitement and congratulations.

Me toca los cojones.

  • Literal Meaning: It touches the balls.
  • Actual meaning: This bothers me.
    • Gente como tú me toca los cojones.

Tienes mas cojones que el caballo de Espartero.

  • Literal Meaning: You have more balls than the horse of Espartero
  • Actual meaning: You are super brave. In Madrid there is a statue of general Espartero. Espartero fought in one of Spain’s many civil wars, and eventually ruled Spain as a regent (does the king’s job, but is not the king). His statue includes his horse, which has some, hm, extravagant balls. So the saying was inspired by the statue. No one knows why the statue has huge balls, it must have been an artistic decision by the sculptor.

espartero-1

 

As I said, there were a lot more. And the more I look on the internet, the more I find. Some of them are fitting for everyday use (or so my students claimed), and others are considered vulgar. There is also the chance that different regions, countries, and continents of Spanish speakers will have different “cojones” idioms.

It goes without saying that this day in class was super fun. We enjoyed trying to translate the idioms quite a bit. Jorge, the teacher/student who presented the phrases, was curious to know why there weren’t more English idioms that took advantage of the humor and flexibility offered by the theme of “balls”. I basically just said that in English we generally try to avoid talking about other people’s balls, which the whole class found very funny.


2 thoughts on “Spain Sunday: The Thousand Faces of Cojones

  1. Wow….intuitively all these make some sense, except for the first one “Me importa tres cojones”. I’m struggling with the notion of three balls.

    I’m with Karen; very funny.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.