A Complete List of Compound Words in Spanish
If you want to increase your Spanish vocabulary and move to the next level of fluency, learn compound words!
Compound words are all around us, many times we don’t even realize that they are compound words because we are so used to them and we treat them as one single word.
Today, I’ll remind you what compound words are, how can we form them, and last but not least, I’ll give you a comprehensive list of compound words in Spanish.
Are you ready for a new challenge?
What are Compound Words?
You may want to jump directly to our list of compound words, but believe me, it’s going to be better for you to understand some rules behind them first. You’ll see that later, it will take you less to memorize the new vocabulary from the list of compound words.
Compound words are formed when two words are linked together to make a new word. For example ice cream, daughter-in-law, blackboard, etc.
Compound words appear in many languages and can be more or less complicated depending on the specifics of the language grammar.
German compound words, for example, are infamous for the almost infinite number of elements that you can join in one word. In English, the difficulty lies in how to link the words since the compound word can be one word, two separate words, or use a hyphen to join them.
What you’ll need to learn in Spanish is what words you can join together and how to join them.
Types of Compound Words in Spanish
In Spanish, you can join many kinds of words to create compound words. I’ll divide them into nine groups according to the parts of the speech we join together and in what order. Later, you can find all of them on the list of compound words below.
1. Noun + Noun
You can easily create compound words by joining two nouns together: coche cama, bocacalle, telaraña
- El coche cama – Pullman, sleeping car
origin: coche (car) + cama (bed)
Si quieres, podríamos ir en el coche cama para no cansarnos con el viaje tan largo.
If you want, we could go in the sleeping car so that we don’t get that tired with the long journey.
- La bocacalle – street intersection, entry, turning
origin: boca (mouth) + calle (street)
Tienes que tomar la primera bocacalle a la derecha.
You have to take the first street entry on the right.
- La telaraña – spiderweb
origin: tela (fabric) + araña (spider)
Cuidado en el ático, está lleno de telarañas.
Watch out there at the attic, it’s full of spiderwebs.
2. Verb + Noun
This is the most common type of compound words in Spanish and you will see our list of compound words will be full of them.
It is easy to create this type of compound word. You have to take the verb in the third person singular form and add a plural noun. Watch out, as although the plural noun is used, the final compound word is singular. The plural form will be identical to the singular one and only the article will change:
el tocadiscos (turntable) – los tocadiscos (turntables).
Most of these compound words are masculine. For example: el rascacielos, el abrelatas, el tocadiscos.
- El rascacielos – skyscraper
origin: rascar (scratch) + cielo (sky)
Creo que no me gustan los rascacielos, le quitan el encanto a una ciudad.
I think I don’t like skyscrapers, they take away the charm of a city.
- El abrelatas – can opener
origin: abrir (open) + lata (can, tin)
Me pasas el abrelatas, por favor.
Can I have the can opener, please?
- El tocadisco – turntable
origin: tocar (touch) + disco (disc)
Los tocadiscos están de moda otra vez.
Turntables are in fashion again.
3. Verb + Verb
You can also form compound words in Spanish with two verbs, although they are not the most common ones. For example: vaivén, correveidile.
- El vaivén – seesaw, sway
origin: ir (go) + venir (come)
Me marea mirar el vaivén del péndulo.
It makes me dizzy to watch the pendulum swing.
- El / la correveidile – telltale, procurer, gossip
origin: correr (run) + ir (go) + decir (say)
Es una persona entrometida y correveidile, intenta evitarla.
She is a nosy and telltale person, try to avoid her.
4. Pronoun + Verb
Another type of compound words are created with pronouns and verbs, for instance: cualquiera, quienquiera.
- cualquier(a) – any, anyone
origin: cual (which) + querer (want)
Él se puede encargar de cualquier situación.
He can handle any situation.
- quienquiera – whoever
origin: quien (who) + querer (want)
Quienquiera que sea, no puede interrumpir mi siesta.
Whoever it is, they can’t interrupt my nap.
5. Noun + Adjective
Another category of compound words are the ones formed by nouns and adjectives. For example: camposanto, pelirrojo
- El camposanto – cemetery
origin: campo (field) + santo (saint, holy)
Entre los restos de aquel camposanto, estaban los de mi bisabuelo.
Among the remains of that cemetery were those of my great-grandfather.
- El pelirrojo – redhead
origin: pelo (hair) + rojo (red)
Siempre he soñado con ser pelirroja.
I have always dreamed of being a redhead.
Take note that because the second element “rojo” starts with the letter “r,” we have to add another “r” inside to maintain the vibrating pronunciation: pelirrojo.
6. Adjective + Adjective
Two adjectives together can also make a new word: altibajos, agridulce, etc.
- altibajos – ups and downs
origin: alto (tall, high) + bajo (short, low)
Cada relación tendrá sus altibajos.
Each relationship will have its ups and downs.
7. Noun + Verb
Same way as you can combine a verb with a noun, you can do it the other way round, and put the noun first: maniatar, hispanohablante
- maniatar – to tie hands off
origin: manos (hands) + atar (tie)
Los secuestradores maniataron a su víctima.
The kidnappers tied their victim’s hands.
- hispanohablante – Spanish speaker
origin: hispano (Spanish) + hablante (speaker)
El número de hispanohablantes en nuestro país aumenta cada año.
The number of Spanish speakers in our country increases every year.
8. Adverb + verb
You can also create a compound word in Spanish by joining an adverb and a verb: menospreciar, dondequiera
- menospreciar – underestimate
origin: menos (less) + apreciar (value)
No menosprecies mi regalo.
Don’t underestimate my gift.
- dondequiera – anywhere, everywhere
origin: donde (where) + querer (want)
Había gente dondequiera.
There were people everywhere.
9. Adverb + adjective
Also, an adjective added to an adverb create new words: bienvenido, malpensado
- bienvenido – welcome
origin: bien (well) + venido (coming)
Bienvenido a mi casa.
Welcome to my house.
- malpensado – evil-minded, dirty-minded, ill-thought
origin: mal (wrong) + pensado (thought)
No seas malpensado; no tenía nada malo en mente.
Don’t be ill-thought; I had nothing wrong in mind.
A List of Compound Words in Spanish
And here you are, a list of compound words in Spanish to quickly jump on a higher level of linguistics.
|el abrebotellas||bottle opener|
|el abrecartas||letter opener|
|el abrelatas||can opener|
|el / la aguafiestas||spoilsport, wet blanket|
|el aguardiente||vodka, schnapps|
|los altibajos||ups and downs|
|el / la aparcacoches||valet|
|el avemaría||hail mary|
|la bocacalle||turning , entry, street interjections|
|el / la cascarrabias||cantankerous|
|el coliflor (Am. Lat.) la coliflor (Esp.)||cauliflower|
|la compraventa||buying and selling, dealing|
|el / la correveidile||telltale, procurer, gossip|
|el / la guardabosques||forest ranger|
|el / la guardaespaldas||bodyguard|
|el guardarropa||wardrobe, closet|
|el lavacoches||car wash|
|el / la lavaplatos||dishwasher (person or machine)|
|ea / la vavajillas||Washing liquid or dishwasher (machine)|
|el / la limpiabotas||shoe shiner, shoeshine boy|
|el limpiaparabrisas||windshield wiper|
|el malhumor||bad mood|
|maniatar||to tie hands of|
|el mapamundi||world map|
|el matamoscas||fly swatter|
|el pararrayos||lightning rod|
|el portaaviones||aircraft carrier|
|el portarretrato||photo frame|
|el quitamanchas||stain remover|
|rioplatense||from the river plate region|
|el / la sabelotodo||corkscrew|
|el salvavidas||life jacket, lifeguard|
|sietemesino||premature (born two months early)|
|el sinfín||endless number|
|la sobremesa||tablecloth or after-dinner / after-lunch conversation|
|sordomudo||hearing and speech impaired|
|la telaraña||spider web|
|el tocadiscos||turntable, record player|
|el trabalenguas||tongue twister|
|el vaivén||swinging, swaying|
If you want to learn compound words related to the beauty industry, check out How to Pamper Yourself in Spanish.
Are you ready to play? Download our cards and create compound words. Look at the two elements on one side and try to create a new word with both of them and guess the translation. In the beginning, you can use the list of compound words to help you, but later try to do it without it. Finally, turn round your card and see if you were right!
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I know that these are many words to remember but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Use our list of compound words to create new sentences with the new vocabulary
Don’t forget that it’s always better to practice with another person, and best with somebody that can challenge you and correct any mistakes. You can always sign up for a free class with one of our professional, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala and practice your newly acquired knowledge about compound words. Don’t forget to have the list of compound words ready for the class!
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