In short – ‘Cabrón’ is an extremely common Spanish word that you’re bound to hear sooner or later (especially when in Mexico!). A ‘cabrón’ is actually a ‘male goat’, but it also has a whole plethora of other uses / meanings.
Wait, why am I talking about goats? And why (on earth!) is the Spanish word for ‘male goat’ so popular?
Well, ‘cabrón’ is one of those words that has evolved WAY beyond its original meaning!
Stick around to find out EVERYTHING you need to know about ‘cabrón’!
Uses / Meanings of ‘cabrón‘
‘Cabrón’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a noun meaning ‘male goat’
- As a euphemism for ‘the devil’
- To describe a man with an unfaithful wife
- To describe someone ‘malicious’ or ‘ill-intentioned’
- As an interjection, akin to ‘f***’
- To describe something really ‘difficult’ or ‘tough’
- To describe someone ‘cunning’ or ‘clever’ (Mexico)
- To address a close friend, akin to ‘pal’ (Mexico)
- To refer to men in general, the likes of ‘guy’ (Mexico)
As a noun meaning ‘male goat’
Originally, a ‘cabrón’ was nothing more than a ‘macho cabrío’ (a ‘male goat’ in English).
Una conversación entre amigos
Jesús – ¿Tus papás tienen un rancho? ¡No mames*! Toda mi familia es de ciudad …
Carolina – ¡Sí! Tienen vacas y cabras … y tenían un cabrón, pero murió apenas.
A conversation between friends
Jesus – Your parents own a ranch? No way! My whole family is from the city …
Carolina – Yeah! They have cows and goats …. and they had a billy goat, but it died recently.
*Erika’s note – ‘no mames’ is a Mexican interjection akin to ‘no f***ing way’. It’s one of MANY mind-blowing ways to say ‘damn’ in Spanish!
As a euphemism for ‘the devil’
‘Cabrón’ is also used as a euphemism for ‘the devil’, mainly because the devil was often depicted as a goat-like creature.
Think of vintage images of Old Nick or Baphomet and you’ll get the idea.
Tantas cosas terribles deben ser obras del Gran Cabrón.
So many terrible things must be the work of Old Nick.
To describe a man with an unfaithful wife
‘Poner los cuernos’ or ‘poner los cachos’ (literally ‘to put the horns’ in English) is a Spanish expression that means ‘to cheat on’ or ‘to be unfaithful’. It´s a super old expression and scholars can’t seem to agree if the Ancient Greeks or the Vikings were to blame for it!
Anyway, if a man was cheated on by his wife (and especially if he consented to it), he was called a ‘cornudo’ (or a ‘horned-one’). And, well, who has some big ol’ horns?
A ‘cabrón’ of course.
Pobre cabrón. Encontró a su esposa en la cama con su mejor amigo.
Poor bastard. He found his wife in bed with his best friend.
Erika´s note – originally this expression was kinda sexist as it didn´t apply to men who cheated on their wives. Nowadays though a man CAN (obviously!) ‘poner los cuernos’ on his partner as well, but women are still never called ‘cabronas’ in this particular sense.
To describe someone ‘malicious’ or ‘ill-intentioned’
Throughout the Spanish-speaking world, ‘cabrón’ can be used to describe someone who behaves badly.
In this context, a ‘cabrón’ is that unsavoury person (normally a stranger) who nobody wants to deal with!
Mario – Perdón por llegar tarde. Un cabrón salió de la nada, se pasó la luz roja y por poco me choca.
Irma – ¡Qué poca madre! ¿Estás bien?
Mario – Sorry I’m late. A son of a b*** came out of nowhere, ran the red light and almost hit me.
Irma – That little sh**! Are you okay?
As an interjection, akin to ‘f***’
Have you ever stubbed your pinky toe so hard that you couldn’t help but cry out loud in pain?
Well, ‘¡cabrón!’, ‘¡ah, cabrón!’ and ‘¡ay, cabrón!’ are popular interjections for such occasions.
People also use the above expressions to express surprise, shock, confusion (and the likes) … or just direct them at someone they’re really mad at.
Magda – ¡Ay, cabrón!
Jimena – ¿Qué pasó?
Magda – ¡Dejé las llaves adentro del coche!
Magda – F***!
Jimena – What’s the matter?
Magda – I left the keys inside the car!
Respondiendo a un examen
¡Ah, cabrón! No recuerdo haber visto nada de esto en clase …
Answering a test
What the f***! I don’t remember any of this from class …
¡Quítate, cabrón! ¡Estás bloqueando la entrada!
Move over, you a**hole! You’re blocking the entrance!
Ese cabrón me debe dinero y nomás se hace el pendejo.
That bastard owes me money and he just plays dumb.
To describe something really ‘difficult’ or ‘tough’
If someone says that an activity, matter, or situation is ‘cabrón’ or ‘muy cabrón’, chances are that it´s a sticky situation or the person speaking is under the gun / in a bit of a pickle … you get the idea!
Óscar – ¡Qué gusto verte! ¿Cómo has estado?
Enrique – Está cabrón, wey…Yo creo que nos vamos a divorciar.
Oscar – It’s so good to see you! How have you been?
Enrique – Chips are down, man … I think I’m gonna get divorced.
Erika´s top tip – if you´re with your boss or granny, you can whip out the euphemism ‘está cañón’ instead.
To describe someone ‘cunning’ or ‘clever’ (Mexico)
Though you´ll hear people say ‘cabrón’ across the Spanish-speaking world, it ONLY has positive connotations in Mexico.
In Mexico ‘cabrón’ has all the meanings listed above PLUS some positive associations.
One of these serves to describe someone who, despite how questionable their actions might be, is so skilled at outwitting their adversaries that they earn the admiration of others.
No había nadie que le viera la cara. Era un cabrón de primera.
No one was able to cheat him. He was a first-rate motherf***er.
¡Estás cabrón! ¡Eres el chef más talentoso que conozco!
You crackerjack! You’re the most talented chef I know!
To address a close friend, akin to ‘pal’ (Mexico)
In Mexico a ‘cabrón’ can also be your best friend, your trusted pal, or simply a good mate.
Abriendo un regalo de cumpleaños
¡Eres el mejor, cabrón! ¡Mil gracias!
Opening a birthday present
You’re the best, bro! Thank you!
To refer to men in general, kinda like ‘guy’ (Mexico)
I know it’s gonna sound mindboggling, but oftentimes ‘cabrón’ is just a way to refer to any random man.
Is he your acquaintance? Yep, he´s a ‘cabrón’.
See that stranger walking by? Yeah, he´s a ‘cabrón’ as well.
Jessy – ¿Por qué tomaste esa ruta? ¡Era la más larga para llegar!
Rafa – Le pregunté a un cabrón en la calle y me dijo que era la mejor.
Jessy – Why did you take that route? It was the longest!
Rafa – I asked a guy on the street and he told me it was the fastest route.
To pronounce ‘cabrón’ correctly, just say ‘kah’, followed by ‘brohn’.
See that accent on the letter ‘o’?
Well, that means you have to really stress that last syllable.
/ kah-brohn /
Similar expressions to ‘cabrón’
‘Cabrona’, the female version of ‘cabrón’, doesn’t share all the same connotations as ‘cabrón’.
It’s mostly used to describe either a ‘malicious’ or ‘cunning’ woman (Mexico).
That being said, thanks to the popular Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, a ‘cabrona’ is now also used to describe a strong unapologetic woman, a concept akin to a ‘girl boss’, ‘boss babe’ and the likes.
Popular cita de Jenni Rivera
Si por pendeja me enamoré, por cabrona te olvidaré.
Popular quote by Jenni Rivera
If I fell in love because I´m an idiot, I’ll (just as easily) forget you because I´m a b**ch.
¡Viva México, cabrones!
This expression, which originated during the Mexican revolution as a battle cry, has become a popular celebratory phrase, commonly heard during soccer matches.
¡Anotamos gol! ¡Viva México, cabrones!
We scored! Viva México, cabrones!
Encabronado / Encabronada
Can you picture a really angry goat?
Well, that’s how mad Mexicans feel when they’re ‘encabronados’.
Its verbal form, ‘encabronar’ (or ‘to piss off’ in English) is also commonplace.
¡Cómo me encabrona la selección mexicana! ¡Ya los descalificaron del Mundial!
The Mexican team just pisses me off! They’re already out of the World Cup!
Phew! That was QUITE a journey!
Hopefully you’re now an absolute master of the word ‘cabrón’, a word that’s been deeply ingrained in Hispanic culture throughout history!
Wanna learn come more fun Mexican expressions? Then head on over to our article on ‘híjole’. Trust me when I say that you’re in for a treat!