Simply put, ‘underwear’ translates as ‘ropa interior’ in Spanish.
Done! You can go now … JUST KIDDING!
If you’ve been immersing yourself in the Spanish language, you’ve probably realized just how rich and complex it is, and how terms and expressions vary depending on the region / country that you’re in.
For example, you may look for the translation of ‘underpants’ in your trusted Spanish dictionary and come across the word ‘calzón’, only to find out later that Mexicans call them ‘chones’, Argentinians prefer to say ‘bombachas’ (‘panties’), and Colombians refer to them as ‘cucos’.
And, well, that’s exactly why I’ve written this list of ALL the different ways to say ‘underwear’ in Spanish!
Let’s get to it!
These are the most common ways to say ‘underwear’ in Spanish –
1. ropa interior = underwear
2. prendas íntimas = undergarments
3. lencería = lingerie
4. calzón / calzones = underpants (Latin America)
5. bragas = underpants (Spain)
1 Ropa interior – Underwear
‘Ropa interior’ literally translates to ‘interior clothing’ and it’s the most universal way to say ‘underwear’ in the Spanish-speaking world.
En una tienda departamental
Cliente – Disculpe, ¿sabe dónde está la ropa interior para caballeros?
Encargada de tienda – Sí, claro, la encuentra en el segundo piso.
In a department store
Customer – Excuse me, do you know where can I find the men’s underwear?
Store manager – Yes, of course, it’s on the second floor.
2 Prendas íntimas – Undergarments
‘Prendas íntimas’ is another generic way of saying ‘underwear’ or ‘undergarments’ in Spanish.
You’ll see ‘prendas íntimas’ in ads, magazines, department stores and product descriptions, but it’s not used as much in everyday speech.
Anuncio publicitario de una boutique
Contamos con una amplia variedad de prendas íntimas para mujeres y hombres, así como para todo tipo de ocasión.
An ad for a boutique
We have a wide variety of undergarments for women and men, as well as for all kinds of special occasions.
3 Lencería – Lingerie
If you specifically wanna talk about ‘lingerie’ in Spanish, then you can say ‘lencería’.
Raquel – ¿Sabes dónde puedo comprar lencería fina? Tengo ganas de comprarme algo sexy y bonito.
Vivian – Sí, mi tienda favorita está en el centro. Si quieres vamos juntas.
Raquel – Do you know where I can buy nice lingerie? I feel like treating myself with something cute and sexy.
Vivian – Yeah, my favorite store is downtown. We can go together if you want.
4 En paños menores (colloquial expression) – (in their) underwear
According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, a ‘paño’ can be any ‘fabric, tapestry or piece of fabric or canvas’, but the expression ‘en paños menores’ (or literally ‘in minor cloths’) is a way of saying ‘in their underwear’.
Después de un sismo
Fran – ¿Cómo les fue en el temblor?
Jimena – Pues todos los vecinos conocieron íntimamente a Víctor.
Víctor – ¡Estaba en la regadera cuando sonó la alarma! Tuve que salirme en paños menores.
After an earthquake
Fran – How did you find the earthquake?
Jimena – Well, all the neighbors got to know Victor more intimately.
Victor – I was in the shower when the alarm went off! I had to come out in my underwear.
5 Calzón / Calzones (Latin America) – Underpants
In Latin America ‘calzón’ is a term used, both in its singular and plural form (‘calzones’), to describe women’s AND men’s ‘underpants’, so ‘boxers’, ‘briefs’, ‘panties’ and the likes.
‘Calzón’ is also used in Spain, but mostly as a synonym of ‘shorts’ or short pants’.
Regina – ¡Mira: unos calzones de dinosaurios para adultos!
Alba – ¡Están súper lindos! Voy a comprar unos para mi novio y para mí.
Regina – Look: underpants for adults with dinosaur prints!
Alba – They’re super cute! I’m gonna buy some for my boyfriend and me.
6 Calzoncillos – Underpants
The diminutive of ‘calzones’ is ‘calzoncillos’ and it’s another way of saying ‘underpants’.
Interestingly, you CAN use this one in Spain as well, but only to describe men’s underwear – unlike in Latin American countries where it’s used indiscriminately.
Quique – ¿Qué te regalaban tus papás de Navidad cuando eras chico?
Danilo – Ay, todos los años nos daban puros calzoncillos y calcetines.
Quique – What did your parents use to give you for Christmas when you were a kid?
Danilo – Ugh, every year they gave us underpants and socks.
7 Chones (Mexico) – Underpants
‘Chones’ is an extremely common way of saying ‘underpants’ in Mexico, and it has a somewhat cute origin.
According to the “Short Dictionary of Mexicanisms” by Guido Gómez de Silva, small children would frequently say ‘calchones’ instead of ‘calzones’, which then derived into the shorter ‘chones’ that’s used nowadays by kids and adults alike!
Año Nuevo en México
Jorge – Entonces, confiesen, ¿de qué color son sus chones?
Sandra – Verdes, para que no falte la salud.
Osvaldo – Ay, ya saben…¡Rojos para el amor!
New Year’s Eve in Mexico
Jorge – So, fess up, what color are your underpants?
Sandra – Green, for health.
Osvaldo – You know it … Red, for love!
Erika’s note – a very popular New Year tradition in Mexico is to wear colored underpants to attract good things like money, love, health, etc.
8 Bragas (Spain) – Underpants
If you wanna say ‘underpants’ in Spain, you should use the word ‘bragas’.
It´s mostly used to talk about women’s underpants (i.e., ‘panties’ or ‘knickers’).
En una tienda de lencería
Vi unas bragas muy bonitas, pero no sé si comprarlas en color blanco o rosa.
In a lingerie store
I saw some very cute panties, but I don’t know whether to get them in pink or white.
9 Cucos (Colombia) – Panties
Are you looking for ‘panties’ in a store in Colombia?
Then you wouldn’t search for ‘chones’ or ‘bragas’, but for ‘cucos’ – a fun word that’s incidentally also a homonym of the Spanish boogeyman, the ‘cuco’ (also known as the ‘coco’).
Me urge lavar la ropa; ¡ya no tengo cucos limpios!
I urgently need to wash my clothes; I don’t have any clean panties!
10 Bombachas (Argentina) – Panties
Women’s underpants are typically called ‘bombachas’ in Argentina.
Dos hermanas salen de compras
Emilia – ¡Qué joya* estas bombachas con encaje!
Irma – Están divinas, y tienen descuento.
Two sisters go shopping
Emilia – These lace panties are awesome!
Irma – They’re divine, and they’re on sale.
*Erika’s top tip – ‘joya’ means ‘jewel’ in Spanish, but in Argentina it’s also a way of saying ‘awesome’. Just as with ‘underwear’ there are MANY ways of saying ‘awesome’ in Spanish.
11 Pantaletas (Venezuela) – Panties
And in Venezuela?
Well, Venezuelans call women’s underpants ‘pantaletas’.
Madre – No te olvides de empacar suficientes pantaletas para tu viaje.
Hija – Sí, mamá, llevo hasta de repuesto.
Mother – Don’t forget to pack enough panties for your trip.
Daughter – Yes, mom, I even packed some spares.
12 Pantis (Latin America) – Panties
The English word ‘panty’ has become so popular that many countries in Latin America have adopted it, so much so that even the “Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Questions” has listed it – written as ‘panti’ in singular form and ‘pantis’ in plural – as a correct term for women’s underpants.
So, when in doubt, you can actually just say ‘panties’!
Quiero comprar unas pantis en línea, pero no sé qué talla elegir.
I want to buy some panties online, but I don’t know what size to choose.
I hope this list of ways to say ‘underwear’ comes in handy no matter what Spanish-speaking country you’re in!
Oh, and if you find yourself buying some pricey underwear, you may wanna head on over to our list of all the ways to say ‘expensive’ in Spanish!
¡Hasta la próxima!