25 Unexpected Ways to Say ‘Thing’ in Spanish
Has it happened to you that you want to name an object in Spanish but just can’t remember its name?
This may occur because you are still learning your Spanish vocabulary and still don’t know some words. However, it could also be because sometimes we just forget about the terms to refer to specific objects, and it’s easier to simply call them cosa or “thing” in Spanish.
Keep reading to learn why we keep calling everything a “thing” both in English and Spanish, what cosismo is and discover the 25 unexpected ways you can say “thing” in Spanish. I’m also introducing you to English and Spanish idioms using the words “thing” and cosa, and terms used to refer to a person you don’t know or can’t remember their name.
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Why Do We Use ‘Thing’ to Refer to Many Things?
The word “thing” or cosa in Spanish is so generic that it allows us to talk about many different “things” with it. A thing can be an object, a topic, or even a plan. For example, you may have pending things with someone or had planned a different thing for the weekend.
This happens in English and Spanish because there are some words called “wildcards” or comodines, which can be used to express many different things. The use and abuse of the term cosa in Spanish even has a name: cosismo.
25 Ways to Say ‘Thing’ in Spanish
When you talk about a “thing,” you can do it in different senses. One of them and the most common is when you refer to a physical thing, an object. However, you can also refer to an object with a more specific use or a topic and subject being discussed.
I’m using this differentiation to categorize these 25 ways to say “thing” in Spanish.
I include in this category all the ways to say “thing” in Spanish when talking about an object.
1. La cosa – this is the literal translation of “thing” in Spanish.
2. El objeto – means “object.”
3. El chirimbolo – a term derived from Euskera and mainly used in Spain.
4. El tereque – used in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama.
5. La güifa – used in Chile.
6. El trasto / El traste – a term derived from the Latin word “transtrum.” Used in Mexico and Spain.
7. El chunche – used in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia.
8. La vaina – used in Central America, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Colombia.
9. El cacharro – used in Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela.
10. El trique – used in Mexico. My mom used to have a cuarto de triques or “room for things.”
11. El cachivache – used in Argentina, Mexico, and Spain. Word with a probable Farsi origin.
12. El trebejo – used more in the plural and originally was a term to refer to chess pieces.
13. El perol – used in Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela.
14. El coroto – used in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.
15. El chisme – used in Spain and Mexico.
Objects With Specific Use
These words are also used to refer to an object, but in this case, the object has been designed with a specific use in mind.
16. El instrumento – translates as “instrument” in English.
17. El artefacto – translates as “artifact” in English.
18. El aparato – translates as “device” in English.
19. El dispositivo – translates as “device” in English.
20. El artículo – translates as “article” in English.
21. El artilugio – translates as “gadget” in English.
22. El utensilio – translates as “utensil” in English.
23. Los aperos – used mainly in the plural and to refer to the instruments used for farming.
Topic or Subject
Finally, we have all referred to that “thing” discussed before. In this sense, Spanish offers these terms.
24. La cuestión – translates as “question” in English.
25. El asunto – translates as “topic” or “matter” in English.
5 Common Slang Words to Mention an Unknown Person
Because this post is about the Spanish words we use when we can’t remember the actual name of things, I thought it would be interesting to introduce you to the terms used in Spanish when we can’t remember or don’t even know the name of a person.
1. Fulano/fulana – words used to name someone whose name is ignored or doesn’t want to be expressed.
2. Mengano/mengana – words used in the same sense as fulano and zutano, but always after the former and before the latter.
3. Zutano/zutana – same meaning as fulano and mengano, usually mentioned after the other two: “Fulano, mengano y zutano.”
4. Como se llame – this would be the Spanish equivalent of “what’s-his-name.”
5. El tipo ese – this expression translates as “that guy.”
10 English and Spanish Idioms Using the Words ‘Thing’ or Cosa
Now let’s learn some idioms in English and Spanish that use cosa or thing in Spanish.
First, some common English idioms with the word “thing.”
1. The thing is… – La cosa es…
2. It’s the same thing – Es la misma cosa
3. How are things? – ¿Cómo están las cosas?
4. It’s one thing after another – Es una cosa tras otra
5. The next big thing – La próxima gran cosa
6. Never heard such a thing – Nunca escuché una cosa así
Last but not least, these are a few idioms that use the word thing in Spanish.
7. Como quien no quiere la cosa – it means something is done without anybody noticing.
8. Hasta que las cosas se calmen – “until things calm down.”
9. Ni que fuera cosa de otro mundo – means that something isn’t that hard or extraordinary.
10. Es poca cosa – used to express that someone or something isn’t too much or doesn’t have much value.
Improve Your Spanish in Conversation
Now you have 25 new and unexpected terms to use instead of the typical cosa or thing in Spanish. You also have new words to refer to unknown people and even some idioms that use the term cosa.
Try introducing these new terms into your vocabulary and start using them in your conversations in Spanish. Remember that the only way to know how and when to use new words is by starting to use them and seeing the reaction of the people around you.
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