False Anglicisms in Spanish: friki, footing, puenting, feeling and more

February 14, 2013

Spanish people use a lot of false anglicisms.

The other day I wrote an article that I feel is destined for fame in the Spanish-speaking world. It’s about the word friki, which Spanish people use to describe some kind of Star Wars geek, computer nerd, or Twilight fangirl.

It was pretty tough to write, actually, because I’m always having to resist the urge to be graphic and explicit in the details. I didn’t want to have my serious educational website banned in schools around the world, so I held back, and limited myself to mentioning Fifty Shades of Grey just once.

I also didn’t put any sort of side by side comparison between English and Spanish. I just mentioned that sometimes anglicisms are not used very precisely by Spanish people.

Oye, tío! Tu hermana es una friki! could be translated as “Hey, dude! Your sister really likes Lord of the Rings!”

Whereas “Hey, dude! Your sister is really freaky!” probably means, Oye, tronco! Me he acostado con tu hermana y me ha abierto los ojos a muchas nuevas prácticas sexuales!

Anyway. In case you were wondering: yes, the Spanish use a lot of pseudo-anglicisms – many of their anglicisms aren’t terribly accurate.

Don’t be offended if somebody calls you friki.

Unless you’ve got better things to do than watch sci-fi all day. In that case, be very offended.

Scroll down for more…

false anglicisms in spanish
The everyday struggle of guys dressed as cartoon characters outside Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid.

Ok, I just googled it. Apparently the official word is pseudo-anglicisms.

Anyway, want more? I got more…

Much more.

Other false anglicisms (or pseudo-anglicisms) in Spanish

Here are some more examples of pseudo-anglicisms for your reading pleasure.

footing = Spanish people use this to mean “jogging”. However, recently Nike has convinced them all that “running” is much cooler than footing. Or jogging. Or whatever you want to call it.

puenting = bungee jumping. Here they tend to do it off bridges. Therefore, puente + ing = puenting. Just putting and -ing on the end of a Spanish word is a classic way to form fake anglicisms.

making off = I wasn’t sure whether to include this one, but even some otherwise intelligent people insist on calling a certain type of video making off. It’s a behind-the-scenes documentary, obviously. And people really need to watch my video about how of and off are completely different.

fashion = a legit English word that they use as an adjective. I guess you could say something along the lines of “estás muy fashion hoy” meaning that you look very fashionable.

feeling = I guess they could use this to mean good vibes generally, but I’ve heard it used as romantic emotion. Like you’ve been sleeping with one of the locals for a while and somebody asks you “Pero Daniel, ¿qué pasa con Pepita? ¿Hay feeling o no hay feeling?” The question is whether or not it’s a real sentimental relationship or if you’re just having some fun.

balconing = this refers to the practice of jumping off of a hotel balcony into the pool, usually while intoxicated. Kids are doing it for their TikTok profiles, and occasionally getting killed. Comes from the word “balcón”, obviously.

En fin…

And with that, let me get back to a much more serious aspect of my job: explaining the difference between the pronunciation of beach and bitch.

More about false anglicisms in Spanish on La Luna de Babel.

What’s your favorite?



P.S. For more teaching fun, check out obscene conversations with English students. You won’t regret it. (That’s not a promise.) Or you could see some “obscene” Spanish expressions.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. In business, “pressing” is another expression that is used quite a bit. Like: “Hay que hacer pressing para conseguir la venta”; meaning that you must exert more effort/influence to achieve something. It can also be used in the reverse–like someone is pressuring you for something: “Me están haciendo pressing…”

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