Purple Heart Day: Military and War Vocabulary in Spanish
The Purple Heart award was first created in 1932 to honor the incredible sacrifices of the United States armed forces. Since that time, the United States has been involved in over 40 wars, conflicts, and interventions. Countless individuals have shown their courage and love for the country, and nearly 2 million people have been awarded the Purple Heart for their outstanding bravery and sacrifice. As we celebrate Purple Heart day, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the armed forces in the second most-spoken language in the U.S.—Spanish.
Military Vocabulary in Spanish
Not only is learning military vocabulary in Spanish a great way to honor our brothers and sisters in arms, but it’s a fantastic educational opportunity for your or little learners. It will also give you the chance to talk to the Latino personnel (who make up about 10% of the armed forces) in their native language or even engage in deep conversation about foreign military policy with people throughout Latin America.
Reviewing Spanish military vocabulary is the perfect way to celebrate Purple Heart Day. As you read through these words and practice the pronunciation, take the time to remember and honor those who have sacrificed so much for their countries.
The following vocabulary words may seem a bit overwhelming at first glance, but if you focus on only a few at a time, you’ll learn them in no time.
Keep in mind that these are general terms; there are hundreds more slang words in English (and Spanish!) that do not necessarily have a direct translation. Each country has its own terminology, especially in the armed forces. Nonetheless, this list is a great starting place and you will impress any native Spanish speaker with this vast military knowledge.
Branches of the Military
|Air Force||La fuerza aérea||fwair-sah ah-air-ay-ah|
|Navy||La marina, la armada||mah-reen-ah, ahr-mah-dah|
|Marine Corps||El cuerpo de marines||kwair-poh day mah-reen-ays|
|Coast Guard||La guardia costera, los guardacostas||gwar-dyah coh-stair-ah, gwar-dah-cohs-tahs|
|Lieutenant||El, la teniente||tay-nee-ayn-tay|
|Captain||El capitán, la capitana||cah-pee-tahn, cah-pee-tahn-ah|
|Major||El, la mayor||mah-yohr|
|Colonel||El, la coronel||cohr-oh-nail|
|Warrant Officer||El, la brigada; el, la suboficial mayor||bree-gah-dah,|
|Private||El, la soldado raso||sohl-dah-doh rah-soh|
|Sergeant||El, la sargento||sahr-hain-toh|
|Seaman||El marino, la marina||mahr-een-oh (ah)|
|Airman||El aviador, la aviadora||ah-bee-ah-dohr (ah)|
|Recruit||El, la recluta||ray-cloo-tah|
|Petty Officer||El, la suboficial de marina||soob-oh-fee-syahl day mah-reen-ah|
|Commander||El, la comandante||coh-mahn-dahn-tay|
|Ensign||El, la alférez de fragata||ahl-fair-ays day frah-gah-tah|
|Admiral||El, la almirante||ahl-meer-ahn-tay|
|Marshal||El, la mariscal||mahr-ees-kahl|
Military Uniform Vocabulary
|Body armor||La armadura corporal||ahr-mah-door-ah coh-pohr-ahl|
|Bulletproof vest||El chaleco antibalas||chah-lay-coh ahn-tee-bah-lahs|
|Dog tags||La placa de identidad||plah-cah day ee-dain-tee-dahd|
|Dress uniform||El uniforme de gala||oo-nee-fohr-may day gah-lah|
|Fatigues||La ropa de faena||roh-pah day fa-ay-nah|
|Helmet||El yelmo, el casco||yail-moh, cas-koh|
Aerial Military Vocabulary
|Air Power||La fuerza aérea||fwair-sah ah-ay-ray-ah|
|Air base||La base aérea||bah-say ah-ay-ray-ah|
|Airway||La ruta aérea, la aerovía||roo-tah ah-ay-ray-ah, ah-ay-roh-bee-ah|
|Dogfight||El combate aéreo||cohm-bah-tay ah-ay-ray-ah|
|Fighter||El caza, el avión de combate||cah-sah, ah-bee-ohn day cohm-bah-tay|
|Jet||El jet, el avión a reacción||yeht, ah-bee-ohn ah ray-ahk-see-ohn|
|Paratrooper||El, la paracaidista||pah-rah-kay-dees-tah|
|Stealth bomber||El bombardero sigiloso||bohm-bahr-dair-oh see-he-loh-soh|
Nautical Military Vocabulary
|Aircraft carrier||El portaaviones||pohr-tah-ah-bee-ohn-ays|
|Bridge||El puente de mando||pwayn-tay day mahn-doh|
|Main deck||La cubierta||coo-bee-air-tah|
|Overboard||Por la borda||pohr lah bohr-dah|
Land Military Vocabulary
|Armored vehicle||El vehículo blindado||bay-ee-coo-loh bleen-dah-doh|
|Fort||La fortaleza, el fuerte||fohr-tah-lay-sah, fwair-tay|
|Tank||El tanque, el carro de combate||tahn-kay, kahr-roh day cohm-bah-tay|
|Troops||Los soldados, las tropas||sohl-dah-dohs, troh-pahs|
|Attack||Atacar, el ataque||ah-tah-kahr, ah-tah-kay|
|Battlefield||El campo de batalla||cahm-poh day bah-tah-yah|
|Combat||Combatir, el combate||cohm-bah-teer, cohm-bah-tay|
|Field Hospital||El hospital de campaña||ohs-pee-tahl day cahm-pahn-yah|
|Fight||Luchar, la lucha||loo-chahr, loo-chah|
|Guerrilla||El guerrillero, la guerrillera||gahr-ree-yair-oh (ah)|
|National Security||La seguridad nacional||say-goor-ee-dahd nah-see-oh-nahl|
|Prisoner of War||El prisionero de guerra||pree-syohn-air-oh day gair-rah|
|Purple Heart||El corazón púrpura||cohr-ah-sohn poor-por-ah|
|Retreat||Retirarse, la retirada||ray-teer-ahr-say, ray-teer-ah-dah|
|Sniper||El francotirador, la francotiradora||frahn-coh-teer-ah-dohr (ah)|
|Soldier||El, la soldado||sohl-dah-doh|
|Surrender||Rendirse, la rendición||rain-deer-say, rain-dee-see-ohn|
|Veteran||El veterano, la veterana||vay-tair-ahn-oh (ah)|
Are You a Parent?
If you are a parent and are learning this vocabulary with your child, it may seem like a lot to tackle. However, there is no need to worry because we have some wonderful resources to help you learn Spanish military vocabulary and celebrate Purple Heart day together.
Get Some Extra Help!
As you learn Spanish, it’s important to practice the correct pronunciation. If you aren’t a native Spanish speaker, mastering this can be a big hurdle. Thankfully, the Homeschool Spanish Academy has dozens of certified Spanish teachers ready and willing to assist you. Try a free class today and see for yourself how these live classes can help your whole family’s Spanish pronunciation, conversational skills, and cultural knowledge.
Because this is a niche Spanish topic, it can be hard to find resources to get your kids excited about learning it. Luckily for you, the following activities are easy to do and are sure to get the whole family engaged in learning Spanish this Purple Heart Day.
- Dress the Officer: Print out a couple of pictures of officials in different branches of the armed forces and label each part of their uniform in Spanish, even down to the ensign! If you have a couple of kids learning, you can put a competitive twist on it by timing them to see who can label all the parts fastest. Another interactive take on this activity would be to make it into a “pin the ___ on the soldier.” Cut out different parts of the uniform and ask them in Spanish to put the object in the correct spot while blindfolded.
- Retell the Story: Learning about history is crucial, even the painful parts involving wars. One way to learn about U.S. military history is to retell tell it using key Spanish words. If you have a beginner Spanish learner, focus on having them just use keywords when recounting historical events. For example, “the soldado fought in the guerra.” If you (or your kids) are a more experienced Spanish speaker, try making full sentences in Spanish. See if you can make a full story about soldiers and the armed forces.
- Imagine if…: Get your kids thinking about what a day in the armed forces would be like. You can ask them to imagine being in a specific branch, like the Coast Guard, to encourage them to use specific vocabulary. If your kids are interested in joining the military when they grow up, this is a great activity to express their dreams in another language. If they don’t have any particular interest, this conversational activity is the perfect way to encourage creative thinking and imagining what military personnel experience. You can have them use the key Spanish military vocabulary in conversation or in a written story.
- Coloring in Spanish: Younger kids can get involved in learning military Spanish as well! Print out a couple of these coloring sheets and talk to your child while they color or after they finish. Show them different parts of the picture and tell them how to say each object in Spanish. Encourage them to repeat after you and identifying vocabulary themselves once they feel confident.
- Military Scavenger Hunt: This is a fun, hands-on activity that is great for any age and vocabulary topic. Print out pictures that correspond with the vocabulary lists above and hide them around the house. When they find an object, make sure they say it in Spanish. For younger learners, you can have a sheet with all the objects on it ready for them. They can paste the pictures they find to the ones on the paper. With older learners, you can ask them to use the object in a Spanish sentence.
Now that you have a thorough list of Spanish vocabulary and fun activities to do with the family, it’s time to get started! Have a wonderful Purple Heart Day and enjoy learning more about the military as you celebrate!
Want to learn more Spanish vocabulary? Check out these resources!
- Ser Conjugation: Free Spanish Lesson, Quiz, Exercises, and PDF - March 12, 2021
- Ir + a + Infinitive: The Near Future Tense in Spanish - February 26, 2021
- Latin American Food: 15 Must-Try National Dishes of Latin America - January 2, 2021