‘Mijo’ vs ‘hijo’

If you’re in Mexico, Colombia, or Venezuela, you’ll likely hear the words ‘hijo’ and ‘mijo’ being used at some point or another.

But are they synonyms? And what does ‘mijo’ actually mean?

Quick answer – ‘mijo’ is NOT always a synonym of ‘hijo’ (which translates to ‘son’). ‘Mijo’ officially means ‘millet’ in Spanish, but in Central America ‘mijo’ and ‘mija’ are also contractions of ‘mi hijo’ (‘my son’) / ‘mi hija’ (‘my daughter’) and are used as terms of endearment.

Let’s take a closer look …

Mijo’ vs ‘hijo

If you look up the word ‘mijo’ in a reputable dictionary such as the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, you’ll get the meaning ‘millet’

And what´s ‘millet’?

Well, it’s actually a “type of plant that grows in hot countries and produces very small seeds”, which is why you might come across the word ‘mijo’ in articles and books on gastronomy and agriculture!

But in everyday speech in certain Latin American countries, you’ll hear the words ‘mijo’ (‘mi hijo’) and ‘mija’ (‘mi hija’) used as terms of endearment, kinda like ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ (but they can translate to ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ too!).

Mijo’ isn´t only used to refer to actual sons though …

… it can also refer to your spouse (as is the case of Colombia) or close friends and even works as a synonym of ‘dude’ (in Mexico and Venezuela).

Una pareja en Colombia

Luz – Anda mijo, vamos a salir a bailar.

Carlos – ¡Vamos, mija!

A couple in Colombia

Luz – Let’s go dancing, sweetheart!

Carlos – Let’s go, darling!

Abuela – A ver, mijo, pásame mis lentes, ¿sí?

Nieto – Aquí tienes, abue.

Grandmother – Hey, kid, pass me my glasses, would you?

Grandson – Here you go, granny.

Dos compañeras de escuela

Gloria – ¿Para cuándo teníamos que hacer el ensayo?

Carmen – ¡Qué pex*, mija! ¡Era para la semana pasada!

Two schoolmates

Gloria – When did we have to do the essay by?

Carmen – Come on, dude! It was due last week!

*Erika’s note – ‘qué pex’ is a fun and interesting Mexican expression that can be used in a number of different contexts!

So, ‘mijo’ is a synonym of ‘hijo’ only when used as a term of endearment for your actual son and, well, ‘hijo’ itself obviously isn´t always used affectionately!

Alejandra y Omar tienen un hijo y dos hijas.

Alejandra and Omar have a son and two daughters.

Similar expressions to ‘mijo

Mijito (a)

If ‘mijo’ is already a cute term, then the shorter version ‘mijito’ is even more candy-coated.

Dos amigos platicando

Leandro – Mijita, ¿cómo te ha ido con el novio?

Mónica – Ay, mijito, ¡estoy bien enamorada!

Two friends chatting

Leandro – How’s it going with your boyfriend, bestie?

Mónica – Oh, bestie, I’m so in love!

Morro (a)

‘Morro’ is Mexican slang for ‘kid’, but it can also be used as either a term of endearment or as a synonym of ‘dude’.

And guess what?

Yeah, it also has a shorter version: ‘morrito’ (for boys) and ‘morrita’ (for girls).

A ver, morro, ¿vas a echar la cascarita con nosotros o no?

Hey, dude, are you gonna play soccer with us or what?

Chamaco (a)

‘Chamaco’ (or chamaca) comes from Nahuatl (one of Mexico’s indigenous languages) and it´s basically another way to refer to a child.

Una madre a su hijo

¡Chamaco travieso! No te va a traer nada Santa Claus.

A mother to her son

Naughty boy! You’re not gonna get anything from Santa Claus.

Final thoughts

That’s all for today, folks!

Remember, ‘mijo’ is used as a term of endearment, so it ISN´T a synonym of ‘hijo‘.

Oh, and if you’re interested in reading about more commonly confused words in Spanish, dig your teeth into our article on the verbs ‘tomar’ and ‘beber’.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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