Interesting Spanish: Compound Words (2 words in 1)

Compound words, “palabras compuestas” are two separate words joined together to create a single word.

For example: parasol (sunshade) is formed from: para (it stops) + sol (sun) [it stops sun]

Often they are created for humour and many do not survive over time.

Here is a list of the most interesting and commonly used in Spanish today:

calientalibros – bookworm [calienta = he/she warms + libros = books]

cascanueces – nutcracker [casca = it cracks + nueces = walnuts]

comecocos – something that confuses/brainwashes [come = it eats + cocos = coconuts]

cortalápices – pencil sharpener [corta = it cuts + lápices = pencils]

cuentakilómetros – speedometer [cuenta = it counts + kilómetros = kilometres]

cuidaniños – baby-sitter [cuida = he/she looks after + niños = children]

cumpleaños – birthday [cumple = it fulfills + años = years]

descansapies – footrest [descansa = it rests + pies = feet]

escurreplatos – dish rack [escurre = it drains + platos = dishes]

espantapájaros – scarecrow [espanta = it scares + pájaros = birds]

guardaespaldas – bodyguard [guarda = looks after + espalda = back]

guardameta – goalkeeper [guarda = looks after + meta = goal]

guardarropas – wardrobe [guarda = it keeps/looks after + ropa = clothes]

lavaplatos – dishwasher [lava = it washes + platos = dishes]

limpiaparabrisas – windscreen wiper [limpia = it cleans + parabrisas = windscreen]

matafuegos – fire extinguisher [mata = it kills + fuegos = fires]

matamoscas – fly swatter [mata = it kills + moscas = flies]

matarratas – rat poison [mata = it kills + ratas = rats]

matasanos – medical quack [mata = he/she/it kills + sanos = healthy people]

pagaimpuestos – taxpayer [paga = he/she pays + impuestos = taxes]

parabrisas – windscreen [para = it stops + brisas = breezes]

paracaídas – parachute [para = it stops + caídas = falls]

parachoques – bumper [para = it stops + cheques = crashes]

paraguas – umbrella [para = it stops + aguas = water]

parasol – sunshade [para = it stops + sol = sun]

picaflor – womaniser [pica = he/she pecks + flor = flower]

portamonedas – purse/handbag [porta = it carries + monedas = coins]

portapapeles – letter rack [porta = it carries + papeles = sheets/paper]

portaplumas – penholder [porta = it carries + plumas = pens]

quitaesmalte – nailvarnish remover [quita = it removes/takes away + esmalte = varnish]

quitamanchas – stain remover [quita = it removes/takes away + manchas = stains]

quitanieve – snowplough [quita = it removes/takes away + nieve = snow]

rascacielos – skyscraper [rasca = it scratches/scrapes + cielos = skies]

rompecabezas – puzzle [rompe = it breaks + cabezas = heads]

sabelotodo – know-it-all [sabe = he/she knows + todo = everything]

sacacorchos – corkscrew [saca = it takes out + corchos = corks]

sacadineros – scam [saca = it takes out + dinero = money]

sacamuelas – dentist [saca = he/she/it takes out + muelas = teeth]

saltamontes – grasshopper [salta = it jumps + montes = hills]

salvavidas – lifeguard [salva = he/she/it saves + vidas = lives]

trabalenguas – tonguetwister [traba = it ties + lenguas = tongues]

…  Y para terminar, mi favorito:

tragahombres man-eater [traga = he/she swallows + hombres = men]

 
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