10 Hilariously Unfortunate Names in Spanish
Human creativity knows no bounds— but that’s not always a good thing, especially if you end up with a name like Francly or the last name Donkey. While most Latin American people like me are quick-witted and observant, we too succumb to unfortunate (and often hilarious) language mishaps like any other idioma on the planet. To illustrate my point, we’ll explore some interesting, funny, and downright ridiculous first and last names in Spanish.
When Last Names Become Funny
One could say that those born with unfortunate apellidos (last names in Spanish) are simply not blessed by the passage of time and circumstances of birth. Some surnames are stranger than others, ranging from innocent puns to outrageous displays of creativity. The lucky ones have awkward last names that raise only a minor inconvenience, as is the example of my own name. The second part of my surname is “Javier.” Javier is a common first name but a rare surname, so people get confused easily by it and refer to me as Javier instead of my actual name.
My example is tame in comparison to today’s list, so get ready to look at ten ways Latin Americans have gotten creative or unlucky with their names in Spanish!
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Some years ago, the National Institute of Statistics in Spain released a list of all surnames in the country, and that led to some interesting discoveries. It was revealed that in Spain, there were at least 47 people with the surname Ladrón, which translates to “Thief.”
Some of our surnames have origins in professions, such as Herrera, which translates to “Blacksmith.” So it begs the question: what profession did the Ladrón family have to earn such a surname? My guess is they were tax collectors. Either way, I think it’s safe to assume they have been upstanding citizens for many generations now.
Hilarious linguistic mishaps occur in South America too! One of the players for the Brazilian fútbol team has the unfortunate last name Elano. While Elano is a perfectly normal name for Brazilians, in Spanish it sounds identical to el ano, making reference to someone’s rear end.
I would have a really hard time as a live narrator if Elano scored and I had to scream ¡GOOOOOOL DE ELANO! at the top of my lungs and not laugh out loud. However, I’d still be happy if he scored since Brazil is one of my favorite fútbol teams.
¡Buenas tardes, señor Feo! Can you imagine greeting someone like that? Feo translates to ugly, and to be honest if I knew the Feo family personally, I’d find any and all excuses available to call them by their last name. If I had the surname Feo myself, I’d look for even more chances to say my name. ¡Hola! Soy Feo, mucho gusto.
No seas vicioso, my mom would say whenever she found me playing video games late at night. The word vicio has some similarities with the word vice, but the sinful implications of a vice aren’t necessarily present in the Spanish word. Either way, having vicioso as your last name might add an extra hurdle to overcome when filling out job applications.
Burro means donkey, and burro is a common way to address your close friends when they’re being, well, burros! While having Burro as a surname will probably exhaust all the donkey jokes you can ever think of, at least you get a unique topic to make small talk and break the ice.
Funny First Names
Imagine you’re a fisherman who’s never spoken a single word of English. You’re sitting by the docks, enjoying a warm breeze and looking at seagulls steal food from unassuming tourists. Slowly, a huge metal ship approaches the shore waving a United States flag.
In awe of such big and powerful machinery, you feel a sudden burst of inspiration. You notice the letters engraved on the side of the ship and decide to name your firstborn son after the inscription on this metallic giant. And that’s how the name Usnavy (U.S. Navy) was born.
I would imagine this to be a case similar to our friend Usnavy. It’s possible that one day a Spanish speaker overheard an English speaker overusing the word “frankly” as they spoke and they liked it enough to name their child Francly. To be fair, it’s a phonetically pleasing word, and I’m sure their kid is going to grow into an honest person.
Armando is more of a light-hearted, funny name. Armando translates to “building,” and this is a name that people will often give to their kids to intentionally create a meaningful phrase with their names. Armando Paredes de Castillo—meaning “building castle walls”—is one of the oldest jokes in the Latin American funny book, so much so that it has become reality now that many people share that name.
Some other examples of these names in Spanish are Armando Casas (building houses) and Armando Torres (building towers).
Soyla is a name with a lot of potential. By itself, it doesn’t stand out too much, but when paired with the right surname any Soyla’s personality will stand out more. Soyla can be broken into two syllables: soy-la. Soy la means “I’m the” in Spanish.
This means that surnames that are nouns like Papa (potato), or adjectives like Triste (sad) take on a whole new meaning.
5. Batman and Pink Floyd Flash
I’ve saved the best for last. These names aren’t common but they sure stand out. Batman Rodrigo and Pink Floyd Flash Rodrigo are two Colombian brothers whose parents let them choose their names at a young age. Now they’ve grown up to be working adults, and they keep their names with pride.
To be honest, It would feel cool to say I have a friend named Batman! Ironically, their father let the boys choose their names to avoid having the same name as him, and they both chose Rodrigo as their middle names—same as their father.
Laugh With Them, Not At Them
There you have it! 10 funny, creative, and unfortunate names in Spanish. Remember that some people will be open to jokes about their unusual names, others won’t mind, and a few will get mad. It’s important to listen to those around you and respect the boundaries they set, while hopefully getting a laugh or two in the process. If you want to learn more about strange cultural quirks, be sure to read our latest posts on Spanish culture, or take a free class to skyrocket your Spanish to a whole new level. ¡Adios!
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