We all know someone who’s a little, erm, “picky” …
But if that particular someone happens to be a Spanish speaker, how do we describe them? Well, I’m about to answer that question with not just one but TEN different ways to say ‘picky’ in Spanish!
Let’s dive right in!
These are the most common ways to say ‘picky’ in Spanish –
- quisquilloso = picky
- tiquismiquis = fussy
- exigente = demanding
- sangrón = persnickety (Mexico and Cuba)
1 Quisquilloso – Picky
This tongue twister of a word (pronounced ‘kees-kee-yoh-so’) is used across the Spanish-speaking world to describe people who are easily annoyed by even the smallest of things, basically someone ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’.
‘Quisquilloso’ is the masculine form, so it’s used to describe masculine nouns. Use ‘quisquillosa’ if the person in question is female!
Liliana – Mi hermano es la persona más quisquillosa sobre la Tierra.
Hugo – ¿En serio? ¿Por qué?
Liliana – Porque si no pasa todo como a él le gusta, hace berrinche.
Liliana – My brother is the pickiest person on Earth.
Hugo – Really? Why?
Liliana – Because if something doesn’t happen the way he likes it, he throws a tantrum.
If you’re curious as to its origins, well, there’s no real consensus amongst linguists (sorry!).
The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language claims that it comes from ‘quisquilla’ (or ‘trifle’ in English), but some philologists (people who study the history of languages) think it’s more likely to derive from ‘cosquilloso’ (or ‘ticklish’) which is also sometimes used to describe people who are easily offended!
2 Exigente – Demanding
2 Exigente – Demanding
The word ‘exigente’ is also used as a synonym of ‘picky’ and sometimes it can be kinda complementary (just as in English!).
Yes, ‘exigente’ can indeed be used to describe someone ‘demanding’ or ‘fussy’, but it may also refer to someone knowledgeable about a particular subject / field and who is therefore very ‘strict’ or ‘critical’ when assessing work, etc.
Decidiendo qué regalarle a un amigo en su cumpleaños
Mario – ¿Crees que le guste ir a un concierto de música pop?
Sandra – Mmm, no lo sé. Alberto es muy exigente en sus gustos musicales.
Deciding what to give a friend on his birthday
Mario – Do you think he’ll like going to a pop music concert?
Sandra – Hmm, I don’t know. Alberto’s a bit a music snob.
Erika’s note – you can use ‘exigente’ to modify both feminine AND masculine nouns (phew!).
3 Tiquismiquis – Fussy
Another fun word to pronounce is ‘tiquismiquis’ (just say the English words ‘tea-keys-me-keys’ and you’ll get the gist!), which means ‘fussy’ in English.
‘Tiquismiquis’ ISN’T actually a colloquialism. However, it’s far more common in Spain and some parts of Mexico than other Spanish-speaking countries. It derives from the Latin ‘tibi, mihi’, meaning ‘for you, for me’, which then became ‘tichi michi’ during the Middle Ages.
Luisa – ¿Por qué no quieres acompañar a tu novio a comprar tenis?
Melisa – Ay, no, Felipe es muy tiquismiquis con los zapatos. ¡Se tarda horas en elegir un par!
Luisa – Why don’t you want to go with your boyfriend to buy sneakers?
Melisa – Oh, no, Felipe is super fussy about shoes. It takes him hours to choose a pair!
4 Meticuloso – Thorough
If you wanna describe someone who is really ‘thorough’ when it comes to an activity or endeavor, then you can use ‘meticuloso’ (for masculine) or ‘meticulosa’ for feminine.
Yep, it’s VERY similar to the English word ‘meticulous’ (thanks, Latin!).
Dos amigos hacen la tarea juntos
Oliver – ¡Nunca voy a acabar este ensayo!
Martha – Es que eres demasiado meticuloso. ¡No te lo pienses tanto!
Two friends do homework together
Oliver – I’m never gonna finish this essay!
Martha – You’re too meticulous. Don’t overthink it!
5 Minucioso – Thorough
Another synonym of ‘thorough’ or ‘meticulous’ is ‘minucioso’ (for masculine) and ‘minuciosa’ (for feminine).
This word comes from the noun ‘minucia’ (‘minutia’ or ‘trifle’ in English) and refers precisely to “someone who dwells on small details”.
Adrián – La renta está muy cara.
Tati – ¿Por qué no buscas ‘roomies’*?
Adrián – No lo sé…Soy demasiado minucioso con la limpieza.
Adrián – The rent is so expensive.
Tati – Why don’t you look for roomies?
Adrián – I don’t know … I’m too much of a clean freak.
*Erika’s note – the correct way to say ‘roomies’ or ‘roommates’ in Spanish is ‘compañeros de departamento’, but it’s not uncommon to use the English word instead, especially in Mexico where anglicisms are popular.
6 Criticón – Nit-pricker
‘Criticón’ (or ‘criticona’ for feminine) comes from the noun ‘crítica’ (meaning ‘criticism’ in English) and it’s akin to the concept of a ‘nit-picker’ or a ‘faultfinder’.
A ‘criticón’ is someone who has an overly critical opinion about, well, almost everything!
Not to be confused with the word ‘crítico’, which is the equivalent of ‘critic’ in English, and refers to ‘a person who exercises criticism professionally’, such as a theater critic, literary critic, etc.
Caro – ¿Por qué estás limpiando cada rincón de la casa?
Zuri – Porque mi papá es bien criticón siempre que viene a cenar.
Caro – Why are you cleaning every corner of the house?
Zuri – Because my dad nitpicks whenever he comes over for dinner.
7 Escrupuloso – Scrupulous
The equivalent of ‘scrupulous’ in Spanish is ‘escrupuloso’ (for masculine) and ‘escrupulosa’ (for feminine).
La periodista fue tan escrupulosa al recopilar evidencia del caso, que no había manera de refutarla.
The journalist was so scrupulous in collecting evidence for the case that there was no way to refute it.
8 Melindroso – Finicky
‘Melindroso’ (or ‘melindrosa’ for feminine) is used to describe someone ‘fastidious’ or difficult to please.
In Mexico it’s commonly used to describe fussy eaters.
René – ¿No te gustan los champiñones?
Noa – No, siempre he sido súper melindroso, la verdad.
René – Don’t you like mushrooms?
Noa – No, I’ve always been a really fussy eater to be honest.
9 Sangrón – Persnickety
If your Mexican pal calls you ‘sangrón’ (or ‘sangrona’ for feminine) – which sounds kinda similar to the word ‘sangre’ (or ‘blood’ in English) – don’t panic, they’re not saying you’re bleeding! They’re actually just pointing out that you’re being ‘persnickety’.
Although ‘sangrón’ isn’t as widespread as other adjectives on this list, it’s also popular in Cuba, El Salvador, Bolivia and Puerto Rico.
Alfonso – ¿No podemos ver otra película? Solo consumo cine de arte.
Brenda – No manches*, Alfonso, deja de ser tan sangrón.
Alfonso – Can’t we watch something else? I only like arthouse movies.
Brenda – Come on, Alfonso, stop being so persnickety.
*Erika’s top tip – ‘no manches’ is an EXTREMELY common Mexican expression, akin to ‘come on’, ‘no way’ or ‘jeez’.
10 Especialito – Picky
‘Especialito’ (or ‘especialita’) is the diminutive of ‘especial’, which translates to ‘special’ in English, and it’s a popular Mexican expression similar to ‘fussy’, ‘picky’ and the likes.
Cris – Voy a llevar a mi perrita al parque, ¿no quieres traer a tu perro?
Aimar – Ay, mi perro es muy especialito con otros perros. No es tan social como la tuya.
Cris – I’m gonna take my dog to the park, wanna bring yours?
Aimar – Oh, my dog is a fusspot with other dogs. He isn’t as friendly as yours.
And that’s it folks! Now you have LOADS of ways to describe those people in your life who are an itsy-bitsy ‘especialito’!
Wanna learn more fascinating and useful Spanish vocabulary? Then I suggest you head on over to our list on all the different ways to say ‘funny’ in Spanish.
¡Hasta la próxima!