Beyond ‘estúpido’: How to Say ‘stupid’ in Spanish

‘Stupid’ in Spanish is ‘estúpido’ if the dimwitted person is male, OR ‘estúpida’ if the person who’s not the sharpest knife in the draw is female.

But picture this: your Spanish-speaking friend has had one drink too many and is starting to behave recklessly. You REALLY want to let them know that they’re being stupid … but is ‘estúpido’ your best option?

Well, it depends! Just as in English, there are LOADS of different ways to say ‘stupid‘, so the one you choose is gonna depend entirely on the situation and the degree of stupidity!

Just look at all the different scenarios in the infographic below –

Infographic showing the difference between "bobo", "estúpido" and "idiota"

With that in mind, this list of all the different ways to say ‘stupid‘ in Spanish is sure to come in handy, AND it’ll help you navigate some tricky situations to boot!

Estúpido / Estúpida – Stupid

The literal translation of ‘stupid’ in Spanish is ‘estúpido’ (or ‘estúpida’).

Stupid’ / ‘estúpido’ are good examples of words that share the same linguistic root. In this particular case, both derive from the Latin ‘stupidus’, which literally means ‘struck senseless’.

If you don’t take anything else from this article, at least you’ve learned a fun fact!

Lucio – ¡Qué estúpido! Dejé el celular en el restaurante.

Grecia – Oye, no te digas así; ahorita regresamos a buscarlo.

Lucio – I’m so stupid! I left my cell phone in the restaurant.

Grecia – Hey, don’t say that; we’ll go back and look for it.

Expert tip – ‘you are stupid’ in Spanish is ‘eres estúpido’ OR ‘eres un estúpido’, the latter being more similar to ‘you’re a fool’ or ‘you’re an idiot’. Remember to use ‘estúpida’ or ‘una estúpida’ if you’re referring to the fairer sex!

Also note that we use ‘serNOT estar‘ as we’re referring to a permanent characteristic!

Tonto / Tonta – Dumb / Silly

‘Tonto’ (or ‘tonta) translates as ‘silly’ or ‘dumb’, and it’s a somewhat gentler version of ‘estúpido’.

Madre – ¿Dónde está tu lonchera?

Hija – No sé…

Madre – No te hagas la tonta…cuéntame, ¿la perdiste?

Mother – Where’s your lunch box?

Daughter – I don’t know …

Mother – Don’t play dumb … tell me the truth, did you lose it?

Pendejo / Pendeja – Idiot

‘Pendejo’ is considered a “bad” word, but you’ll be surprised by just how popular it is (especially in Mexico).

This one’s a bit of a wild card because you might come across close friends that throw ‘pendejo’ around willy-nilly, but it CAN also be deeply hurtful!

Un adolescente juega videojuegos

Pedro – ¡Ah, qué pendejo! ¡Ya me mataron!

Padre – ¿Perdón?

Pedro – Qué pensante* soy…Eso quise decir.

A teenager plays video games

Pedro – Ugh, what an ass****! I got killed!

Father – Excuse me?

Pedro – What a moron … that’s what I meant.

I strongly recommend you tread lightly when using ‘pendejo‘ because it’s a bit ruder than the other words on this list. When I first moved to Mexico I personally used ‘pendejo‘ in a situation in which I probably shouldn’t have … with some students of mine that I didn’t know *that* well!

If you wanna avoid judgemental stares, here’s an infographic that shows just how harsh-sounding each of the words on this list is (you can thank me later!) –

Infographic showing how harsh-sounding the different synonyms of stupid in Spanish are

Imbécil – Imbecile

‘Imbecile’ translates as ‘imbécil’ in Spanish, and it’s a very common (albeit hurtful) way of saying ‘stupid’ across the Spanish-speaking world.

Mira nada más, a ese imbécil pasándose la luz roja. ¡Casi atropella a un peatón!

Just look at that jerk running the red light. He almost hit a pedestrian!

Bobo / Boba – Silly

Looking for a cute alternative?

‘Bobo’ comes from the Latin ‘balbus’, which means ‘stammering’, and besides being a fun word to pronounce (‘boh-boh’), it’s also used to describe someone who’s acting in a ‘silly’ or ‘goofy’ way.

A girl with bubble gum on her face next to text saying "boba"

José – A ver, dime, ¿qué le dijo un gusano a otro?

Nadia – No sé, ¿qué le dijo?

José – ¡Me voy a dar la vuelta a la manzana!

Nadia – ¡Qué bobo eres de veras!

José – Hey, what did one worm say to the other?

Nadia – Dunno, what did it say?

José – I’m gonna take a walk around the apple*!

Nadia – Honestly, you’re so silly!

*Rupert’s note – in Spanish, ‘manzana’ means both ‘apple’ and ‘street block’, and this nuance is actually a key element of one of my favorite MEXICAN JOKES!

Baboso / Babosa – Silly

‘Baboso’ is an adjective used to describe someone ‘who drools a lot’, BUT it’s also another fun (and, for the most part, inoffensive) way to say ‘silly’ or ‘dumb’ (think ‘silly sausage’ or ‘dingbat’).

Un chico juega en el pasillo de la escuela, se tropieza y empuja a una chica

Mariana – ¡Baboso, fíjate por dónde caminas!

Fer – Jaja, así camino yo, ¿cómo ves?

A boy plays in the school hallway, trips and pushes a girl

Mariana – You dingbat, watch where you walk!

Fer – Haha, that’s how I walk, how about that?

Bruto / Bruta – Stupid

The literal translation of this word would be ‘brute’.

The Spanish version isn’t used quite in the same way though: ‘bruto’ normally refers to a ‘stupid’ person rather than someone who’s rough and violent (as it does in English!).

¡No seas bruto; esa puerta no se jala…la tienes que empujar!

Don’t be stupid; you can’t pull that door … you have to push it!

A muscular man (un bruto) trying to push a door that you need to pull

Güey / Wey (Mexico) – Idiot

Does this word sound familiar?

Yeah, you’ve probably heard it when chatting with your Mexican pals!

‘GÜEY’ (or WEY) is an extremely popular way to say ‘dude’, ‘bro’ or ‘pal’ in Mexico … but you probably didn’t know that it’s actually derived from the word ‘buey’ (or ‘ox’ in English).

As such, ‘güey’ can also be used to mean ‘slow’, ‘clumsy’ and ‘dumb’!

¡Ay, estoy bien güey! Olvidé la tarea…

Oh, I’m such an idiot! I forgot my homework …

And, by the way, if you’re not sure which words for ‘stupid‘ are used in which Spanish-speaking country, well, we’ve done that research for ya’ too –

Infographic showing in which Spanish-speaking countries the different synonyms of "stupid" are used

Burro / Burra – Dumb

Speaking of animals with a bad reputation, we also have ‘burro’ (‘donkey’ or ‘ass’) and, yep, it’s another extremely common way of calling someone ‘dumb’.

It’s not particularly offensive, so don’t be surprised if you hear it used amongst children, friends, and relatives.

Niño – ¡Ya no quiero estudiar, mamá!

Madre – ¿Quieres que te salgan orejas de burro*?

Niño – ¡Nooo!

Madre – Entonces venga; ya casi acabas.

Boy – I don’t want to study anymore, mom!

Mother – So you wanna be a donkey?

Boy – Noooo!

Mother – Then get on with it; you’re almost done.

*Expert tip – ‘que te salgan orejas de burro’ literally means ‘to grow donkey’s ears’ and the implication is that you’re gonna inherit the donkey’s intellect too.

Zoquete – Blockhead

A ‘zoquete’ is ‘a short, thick piece of wood left over from carving or using a log’, so quite literally a ‘blockhead’ in English!

Hugo – ¿Vas a invitar al zoquete aquel a la fiesta?

Lester – ¿Te refieres a Pablo? No es tan tonto como crees.

Hugo – Are you going to invite that blockhead to the party?

Lester – Do you mean Pablo? He’s not as dumb as you think.

Cabezón / Cabezona – Pighead

‘Cabezón’ (or ‘cabezona’) is used to describe someone who has a large head.

It’s kinda like the English expression ‘pighead’, and it shares both its connotations too (i.e., ‘stubborn’ and ‘foolish’).

A man with a big head (un cabezón) saying "¡Que no!"

Un par de amigos no encuentran la locación de una fiesta

¡No seas cabezón! Hazme caso y pregunta por la dirección.

Two friends can’t find the party they’re going to

Don’t be stubborn! Listen to me and ask for the address.

Menso / Mensa – Fool

Finally, an extremely popular way of calling someone a ‘fool’ or an ‘idiot’ is ‘menso’ (masculine) and ‘mensa’ (feminine).

You’ll likely hear this one A LOT if you’re in Mexico!

¡Ay, qué mensa! Dejé mis llaves adentro del coche.

Oh, I’m such an idiot! I left the keys inside the car.

Before you go …

If you wanna continue to level up your Spanish vocab, I suggest you take a look at the popular Mexican expression ‘HACERSE WEY’ next.

Spoiler: it’s related to the use of ‘wey’ or ‘güey’ as mentioned above.

¡Nos vemos allá!

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.

And some cheeky vids ...

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