10 Dastardly Ways to Say ‘Damn’ in Spanish

We’ve all been there … something a little overwhelming happens and all we’re able to utter is “Damn!”.

But is there a Spanish expression that captures the exact same emotion?

Well, I´ve come up with 10 different ones!

From the most common expressions to some local Mexican and Spanish slang, keep scrolling because you’re in for a treat that’s sure to leave you saying “damn”!

Key takeaways

‘Damn’ is generally expressed in the following ways –

  • ‘Maldita sea’ (‘damn it’) – ¡Maldita sea, me torcí el tobillo! = Damn it, I sprained my ankle!
  • ‘Carajo’ (‘f***’) – ¡Me robaron el celular, carajo! = They stole my f***ing phone!
  • ‘Caray’ (‘darn’) – ¡Ah caray, no encuentro mi mochila! = Oh, darn, I can’t find my backpack!

There are also expressions specific to certain countries, such as ‘híjole’ in Mexico, and ‘hostia’ in Spain.

¡Híjole, se rompió la pantalla de mi celular! = Darn! I broke my cell phone screen!

1 Maldita sea – Damn it

‘Maldita sea’ literally means ‘damn it’ and you’ll hear it used throughout the Spanish-speaking world (particularly in Latin America).

It´s used both as a neutral expression (like the English ‘damn it’) AND to mean ‘damn her’, but you may also hear it in its masculine form (‘maldito seas’), which translates to ‘damn him’ in English.

Ana – ¡Maldita sea! ¡Ya se me hizo tarde otra vez!

Karen – Hey, tranquila, no pasa nada … ahorita avisamos que vamos retrasadas.

Ana – Damn it! I’m late again!

Karen – Hey, don’t worry, it’s okay … we’ll let them know we’re running late.

2 Carajo – F***

Although ‘maldita sea’ clearly isn´t for use in the playground (I mean, you’d literally be cursing something or someone), it’s not *that* vulgar, and it’s definitely not considered as rude as ‘carajo’, another popular expression similar to ‘sh**’ or ‘f***’ in English.

Fun fact: ‘carajo’ has become so commonplace that many people have forgotten its true meaning … it´s actually a euphemism for ‘penis’.

¡Carajo, Gabriel! ¿Por qué nunca puedes bajar el asiento del excusado?

F***, Gabriel! Why can’t you ever put the toilet seat down?

Alejandra – ¿Qué carajos fue eso?

Fabián – Soy yo, mamá, llegué hace diez minutos y entré al baño…

Alejandra – ¡Me espantaste! ¡Pensé que estaba sola!

Alejandra – What the f*** was that?

Fabian – It’s me, mom, I arrived ten minutes ago and went straight to the bathroom…

Alejandra – You scared me! I thought I was alone!

3 Caray – Darn

‘Caray is a derivation of ‘carajo’.

It´s also used to express surprise or anger but in a less vulgar way than ‘carajo’, so it´s more like saying ‘darn’ than ‘damn’.

Oh, and ‘caray’ has another linguistic cousin: ‘caramba’.

Remember Bart Simpson’s catch phrase ‘¡ay, caramba!’? Well, now you know where it came from (although ‘caramba’ is far less common than ‘caray’ in everyday speech).

¡Ah, caray! ¿Dónde habré dejado mis llaves?

Oh, darn! Where did I leave my keys?

¡Caray, Sofi! ¡Qué bonito auto te compraste!

Wow, Sofi! What a nice car you bought!

4 Híjole – Darn

A fun and rather innocuous way to express surprise, confusion or frustration in Spanish is with the interjection ‘híjole’.

It’s mostly used in Mexico and Central America, so it´s not as widespread as other words on this list … but it sure is amusing to say out loud!

I actually dedicated a whole article to the different meanings and uses of ‘híjole’, so if you feel curious, it’s definitely worth checking out!

En la oficina

Julián – ¿Ya viste? ¡Está granizando!

Adriana – ¡Híjole! ¡No me traje el paraguas! ¿Cómo voy a salir?

In the office

Julian – Have you seen outside? It’s hailing!

Adriana – Darn! I didn’t bring my umbrella! How am I going to get out?

Dos hermanos pre-adolescentes

Antonio – ¡Rompiste la maceta! Híjole … Mamá te va a regañar por un año …

Bernardo – ¡Deja de molestarme!

Two pre-teen siblings

Antonio – You broke the pot! Darn … Mom´s gonna be telling you off for a year …

Bernardo – Stop annoying me!

5 No mames – No f***ing way

The literal translation of ‘no mames’ would be ‘don’t suck’ (which obviously doesn´t make much sense in most contexts!), but it’s actually one of the most popular expressions in Mexico.

Mexicans use ‘no mames’ to express utter disbelief, surprise, or frustration, so it can mean any one of ‘f***’, ‘no f***ing way!’ or ‘you’re f***ing kidding me!’.

If you ever wanna try it out, just remember to only whip it out with close friends in VERY casual situations.

Comienza a llover en la Ciudad de México

¡No mames! ¡La ropa! ¡La dejé tendida afuera!

It starts to rain in Mexico City

F***! The clothes! I left them drying outside!

Tania – No mames, Iván, cómo no quieres que me enoje.

Iván – Perdón, no quise decirle gorda a tu hermana, ¡de veras!

Tania – Are you f***ing kidding me, Ivan, of course I was gonna get mad.

Ivan – Sorry, I didn’t mean to call your sister fat, honestly!

6 Ya valió madres – It’s f****ed

Reserve this one for the most desperate of times.

It’s a Mexican phrase that literally translates to ‘it’s worth mothers’, but you may liken it to the English phrase, ‘it’s f***ed!’.

Viendo un partido de fútbol

¡Nos metieron otro gol! ¡Ya valió madres!

Watching a soccer game

They scored another goal against us! We’re f***ed!

Gibrán – ¿Cómo les fue en el examen?

Marcos – Valimos madres. El profesor dice que tenemos el promedio más bajo de toda la escuela.

Gibran – How was the exam?

Marcos – We’re screwed. The teacher says we have the lowest average in the entire school.

*Erika’s note – You wouldn’t believe how many Mexican expressions have the word ‘madre’ (or ‘mother’) in them.

It’s an insane amount and we’ve actually listed them all in our guide to ‘Madre’  in Mexican slang!

7 ¡Chingada madre! – F***! / Damn!

This is a very strong curse word, but it’s also very commonplace in Mexico.

‘Chingada madre’ derives from the phrase ‘chinga a tu madre’ which means ‘f*** your mother’ … so, yeah, not the most pleasant of phrases!

Keep in mind that using it would be akin to saying ‘f***’, so maybe don’t use it in the workplace …

Estefanía – ¡Chingada madre!

Isaac – ¡Caray! ¿Qué te pasó?

Estefanía – Acabo de pisar un Lego. Muero de dolor …

Estefanía – F***!

Isaac – Darn! What happened?

Estefanía – I just stepped on a piece of Lego. It´s so painful …

8 ¡Me lleva la chingada! – F*** me!

As you can probably guess, ‘me lleva la chingada’ or ‘f*** me’ is normally used in pretty dire situations.

En el aeropuerto

¡Me lleva la chingada! ¡Olvidé mi pasaporte!

At the airport

F*** me! I forgot my passport!

Fernanda – ¡No, otra vez! ¡Me lleva la chingada!

Ernesto – ¿Qué pasa? ¿Estás bien?

Fernanda – ¡Volví a pisar una caca de perro!

Fernanda – Not again! F*** me!

Ernesto – What happened? Are you okay?

Fernanda – I stepped on dog poop again!

9 Hostia – Damn

If you’re in Spain, you´re VERY likely to hear the word ‘hostia’ (which literally translates as ‘host’) – and it doesn´t mean ‘host’ as in a person who entertains, but instead communion bread (yes, think churches, etc.)!

The sentiment is very similar to ‘damn’.

Iker – ¡Hostia, pero qué zapatos tan guay!

Dolores – ¡Gracias! Los conseguí en la calle de Velarde.

Iker – Damn, that’s a cool pair of shoes!

Dolores – Thanks! I got them on Velarde Street.

En el médico

¡Hostia, doctor, deme algo para el dolor que no aguanto!

At the doctor

Holy sh**, Doctor, give me something for the pain, I can’t take it anymore!

10 Chale – Damn it

And finally (drum roll) …

… I give you ‘chale’, an extremely popular Mexican slang term.

It’s a simple word with quite a few meanings and uses, but when used as an interjection it mostly denotes surprise, disbelief, annoyance, or utter disappointment.

¡Chale! Otra vez reprobé filosofía…

Damn it! I failed philosophy again …

Paulina – Creo que olvidé los boletos del concierto.

Regina – Chale, Pau … ¡Eres la persona más distraída que conozco!

Paulina – I think I forgot the concert tickets.

Regina – Darn it, Pau … you’re the most forgetful person I know!

Final thoughts

That´s all for today, folks!

I think I’ve covered all the bases, so hopefully the next time you feel the urge to exclaim a heartfelt ‘damn’ in Spanish, you have the right expression for the situation at hand.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more cool Spanish expressions, you´d do worse than heading over to our list of all the different ways to say awesome’ in Spanish.

Trust me when I say that it´s ‘a toda madre’ ( ‘amazing’)!

¡Hasta luego!