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As illustrated in “The Art of Cuban Cursing,” Caribbean swearing marks the absolute pinnacle of human profanity. Today, however, we will focus on the Swiss army knife of Spanish obscenity, the T-1000 of casual expletives, the most flexible, versatile swear word in the Hispanic lexicon: “coño.”

Technically, the word refers to a vagina. But lo, dear reader! Lest you think it solely defines a woman’s nether regions. Below you will find a few instances of its countless uses.

Coño (pronounced COH-nio) The most common utterance involves the emphasis placed on the first syllable. Translated loosely as “damn” its applications are infinite. When preceded by “qué,” the phrase transforms into “what the hell.”

Examples

Coño man, it sucks that your wife was just three toddlers in a trench coat.

Coño, if the Dolphins don’t win a game this year… they’ll keep being the Dolphins.

Qué coño are you doing with that sheer top? Your tetas are showing.

Coñó (pronounced coh-NIO) The emphasis on the second syllable denotes a stronger reaction more akin to “fuck.” It is usually in response to something unexpected, impressive, or hard to believe, and likely paired with an arched eyebrow or judgmental look.

Examples

Coñó, how did you smuggle 13 bags of coke in your butt? I can only do six.

Coñó, that abuela punched a tourist wearing a Che shirt.

Coñó, your leg just fell off and is hopping down the street.

Cooooño (pronounced COOOOOH-nio) An elongated first syllable signifies that things are categorically not OK. Disaster and misfortune are nigh.

Examples

Cooooño, Godzilla rampaged through little Havana, but didn’t destroy Marlins Stadium.

Cooooño bro, how could you forget to renew your restaurant’s insurance before burning it down?

Cooooño, I woke up transformed into a giant insect and my dad just pitched an apple into my back.

Coñoooo (pronounced coh-NIOOOOOH) A drawn out second syllable insinuates that something distinctly out of the ordinary is occurring. Though not a perfect translation, one could replace this pronunciation with, “Holy fucking shitballs of fire, look at that fucking shit!”

Example

Coñoooo, I can’t believe I’m dancing with someone with such a huge culo! Now I’m pressed against a wall. I’m having trouble breathing. It’s literally crushing the life out of my body. My hip just broke. I’m losing consciousness. Is this the end? Why am I flashing back to middle school? I had a good run. This is how I want to go.

¡Coñocoñocoñocoño! (pronounced COH-nio-COH-nio-COH-nio-COH-nio) Several coños in rapid succession can only mean you thing: you done fucked yourself up.

Examples

¡Coñocoñocoño! I sat on my balls!

¡Coñocoñocoño! You sat on my balls!

¡Coñocoñocoño! We, implausibly, sat on each other’s balls!

¡Ño! (pronounced NIO) Used exclusively in the Pearl of the Antilles (that’s Cuba, for the less accultured) and by its scattered offspring, this expletive derives from cubiches’’ irrepressible compunction to truncate every word they utter. It can be used interchangeably with coño, but in this author’s biased opinion, is much more fun.

Examples

¡Ñoooo broder! ¡Eres tremendo caballo!

¡Ño asere! ¡Claro que soy un caballo! I’m an ungulate with a mane and a tail!

¡Ñooooo este caballo habla!

¡Ño! ¿Pero eres estudipo? We’ve been talking since we rode out of town!

¡Ñooooo! I shouldn’t have eaten those mushrooms!

¡Ñoooo compadre! ¡Te jodisteeeee!

¡Ñooooooo!

¡Ñoooo-neeeeigh-ooooo!

These are but a mere sampling, an asperationist aperitif, of the semantic smorgasbord that is “coño.” Nowhere in the Iberian idiolect will one find a more adaptable or useful expletive. A phraseological gift granted by some blasphemous Castilian Prometheus, “coño” lights the way to higher forms of invective and warms the hearts of all who hear it. My only question for you, dear reader, is ¿qué coño todavía haces aquí? The article’s over.

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Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

‘Miami Creation Myth’ author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

Check out the first free chapter of Andrew’s upcoming book here.

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