Cabreo de cojones
Have you ever heard the expression “throw a shit-fit”?

Well, regardless, you do now know how to say that in Spanish!

…and apparently it’s available in t-shirt format, as you can see there on the left (that’s what “cabreo de cojones” yielded on Google Images).

This expression comes from Spain, as will most in the foreseeable future since that’s the dialect I’m learning because I’m going there on September 1st for a stay of two months, and the Spanish have a strange preference for slang terms utilizing the word “cojón/cojones” (that’s a superb article on the subject, by the way), which literally means testicle/balls.

The Story

So this one comes, again, from my Spanish tutor, Silvia (highly recommended if you’re interested) while we were having one of our usual sessions the other day…

What happened was that Silvia was telling me a story of how when she was taking English and French classes back-to-back somebody else doing the same was in the English class with her, mispronounced an English word by pronouncing it would be in French, and the professor “se cogía unos cabreos de cojones”- they threw a shit-fit, that is they became very (irrationally) angry.

What does it mean and what’s the difference between it and “tener un cabreo de cojones”?

“Cogerse un cabreo de cojones” simply means to become very angry.  To break it down for you, “coger” means “to take”, making it pronomial (adding that “se” to the end) results in it meaning something like “to catch” as in “to catch a cold”, a “cabreo” is a fit or rage, and the “de cojones” part is where it gets interesting since “cojones” literally means “balls” [as in testicles].

Important (and quick) side note!

If you’re reading this you’re probably learning Spanish at a beginner or intermediate level, and if so could I recommend you quickly check out a site called Yabla? They teach you Spanish using videos made by and for natives (e.g. TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, cartoons, news and documentaries originally made in Spanish-speaking countries for native speakers) coupled with a set of tools specifically designed for that purpose which are integrated into the video player:

  • Verbatim subtitles in Spanish shown at the same time as English subtitles (you can turn either or both on or off)
  • An integrated dictionary and flashcard system that both automatically looks up a word in the subtitles when you click on it as well as adds it to your flashcards for later review
  • Exercises and quizzes about what you just watched that make you apply the new Spanish you just learned.

Check it out here (discounts for educators and institutions, by the way, I know a lot of you are teachers) or read my full review if you’d like more information (and screenshots of the system) first. Back to the article…

Now, as you hopefully learned by reading the recommended article from above on the many uses of “cojón/cojones” in Spanish, that word can have many different meanings and is probably one of the most commonly used slang/curse words in all of Iberian Spanish (Spanish from Spain, Iberia is the peninsula where Spain is located).  In this case it simply amplifies the intended meaning, that is it says that the “fit” (cabreo) this person is having is really bad, they’re very angry.

Tener un cabreo de cojones”, on the other hand, means to maintain said fit of anger for some period of time.  The becoming angry part was described by “cogerse un cabreo de cojones”, but to describe that someone is currently (still) angry you would need to use “tener un cabreo de cojones”, e.g. “Silvia tiene un cabreo de cojones porque su perra, Violeta, acaba de comerse el bocadillo que dejó en la mesa.”, which means “Silvia is very angry because her dog, Violeta, just ate her sandwich that she left on the table.”  Yes, she does actually have a dog named Violeta, by the way (who I’m sure would eat her sandwich, given the opportunity, though I’m unaware of this ever happening, to be fair and avoid slandering Violeta).

Edit: Silvia has been kind enough to send me a photo of Violeta to post here for you all (she’s a mutt, rescue dog I believe):



Ok, that’s it for this edition of Learn Spanish for Real, I hope you found it educational and I look forward to doing many more (I’ve no lack of material).

Also, if you’d like to learn more everyday colloquial Spanish (not just cursewords, I promise!), I’ve written a book on how to do just that by using modern popular Spanish media like movies, TV shows, music, comics, and more called: The Telenovela Method – you can buy it directly through my site or on Amazon (it’s had great reviews!), the link above will tell you how.



The previous edition of Learn Spanish for Real was (if you’re interested)…

Learn Spanish for Real #3: “Llorar como una magdalena” – from Spain! | Slang, Expressions, and Curse Words

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