War and Peace: Military Vocabulary in Spanish
War has (unfortunately!) always been part of human history, which makes learning vocabulary about the military in Spanish an important step in your learning process.
The military is part of every country’s life and Spanish-speaking countries are no exception. What’s more, each military has its own unique terms that you need to learn, especially if you’re in the defense and security industries.
Keep reading to learn more about why you should learn about the military in Spanish, the Spanish terms for the different ranks and branches in the military, war vocabulary, and even some politics and human rights words related to war in Spanish.
The Military in Spanish
The military in Spanish has its own words, technical terms, and specific vocabulary about its own ranks and branches, as well as war itself. Understanding the meaning and translation of this vocabulary can be of the utmost importance in certain situations.
However, you don’t need to live in a military base, have served in the military, or even be in the unfortunate situation of being in a country torn by war to learn and appreciate the importance of learning vocabulary about the military in Spanish. Just by reading a history book in Spanish, for instance, you’d be well-served to know some of the military vocabulary included below.
Remember, learning a language isn’t only about learning the words and grammar rules about the areas of life that you’re interested in. You never know when you’ll be in a situation where you have to speak about the military in Spanish, or for that matter about golf, accounting, or music.
The Military in Spanish Vocabulary
Let’s start by learning the military ranks in Spanish and then explore the vocabulary for each one of the different branches of the US military in Spanish.
Military Ranks in Spanish
The following is the list of military ranks in Spanish according to how the US military is organized. The ranks aren’t presented by order of importance, but alphabetized in English.
|admiral||el, la almirante|
|airman||el aviador, la aviadora|
|captain||el capitán, la capitana|
|colonel||el, la coronel|
|commander||el, la comandante|
|corporal||el, la cabo|
|ensign||el, la alférez de fragata|
|general||el, la general|
|lieutenant||el, la teniente|
|major||el, la mayor|
|marshal||el, la mariscal|
|petty officer||el, la suboficial de marina|
|private||el, la soldado raso|
|recruit||el, la recluta|
|seaman||el marino, la marina|
|sergeant||el, la sargento|
|warrant officer||el, la suboficial mayor|
Branches of the Military in Spanish
Although the US Military has 5 military branches as presented below, most countries only possess the classic 3 branches that cover land, air, and sea. For this reason, we’ll cover the Spanish vocabulary for these 3 branches in detail.
|air force||la fuerza aérea|
|marine corps||el cuerpo de marines|
|navy||la marina, la armada|
|coast guard||la guardia costera, los guardacostas|
Air Force in Spanish
Let’s dig deeper in the Spanish vocabulary used in the Air Force.
|air base||la base aérea|
|airway||la ruta aérea, la aerovía|
|dogfight||el combate aéreo|
|fighter||el avión de caza, el avión de combate|
|jet||el jet, el avión a reacción|
|paratrooper||el, la paracaidista|
|pilot||el, la piloto|
|stealth bomber||el bombardero sigiloso|
Navy in Spanish
In this section, I’m including all types of nautical military vocabulary.
|aircraft carrier||el portaaviones|
|bridge||el puente de mando|
|main deck||la cubierta|
|overboard||por la borda|
Army in Spanish
Finally, here is some army and land-related military vocabulary in Spanish.
|armored vehicle||el vehículo blindado|
|jeep||el jeep, el todoterreno|
Military Alphabet in Spanish
If you have ever watched a war film, odds are that you have heard a soldier speaking through a radio and saying funny words such as “alpha,” “bravo,” “charlie.” The idea behind these terms is to avoid confusion when spelling words during an emergency, and it was first developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Later, the US military perfected the alphabet during the Vietnam War. The effort was fully developed among 26 international agencies, who created code words for each letter—following the English alphabet that would be distinct enough to facilitate its use and interpretation. The result was the NATO phonetic alphabet.
In Spanish, there isn’t a military alphabet as intricately developed as that of NATO, and most Spanish-speaking militaries would use the international version. However, some versions of phonetic spelling alphabets exist—although none of them is definitive and accepted in the whole Spanish world.
You can click here for one of the most common versions of a Spanish alphabet—used in Spain—to simplify the spelling of letters in radiophonic communications.
War in Spanish Vocabulary
Although the military is strongly related to war, the truth is that these two concepts are very different ideas. Think about it, there are many countries with military institutions that haven’t been to war for a long time (or ever).
Another example of this differentiation between the military and war itself are those wars where the military isn’t involved—for instance, the war on drugs or civil wars where fighters don’t belong to any military corps.
With this in mind, I’ve included some important terms about war in Spanish.
In the Battlefield
Find some common words and technical terms used in the battlefield here. For example, learn how to say “attack” in Spanish.
|battlefield||el campo de batalla|
|combat||el combate, combatir|
Here are some more relevant Spanish vocabulary words used in the battlefield. For example, learn how to say “military siege” in Spanish.
|field hospital||el hospital de campaña|
|fight||la lucha, luchar|
|injured||el herido, la herida|
|sniper||el francotirador, la francotiradora|
In the following list, I’m including the most common weapons used at war—which haven’t been included in previous lists (such as “fighter” or “tank”). To increase your vocabulary about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Vocabulary List of Weapons in Spanish.
|machine gun||la ametralladora|
|weapons of mass destruction||las armas de destrucción masiva|
It is indisputable that war is as much about politics as it is about the military. So, in this section I’m including some terms and concepts related to politics. For example, I consider a surrender or a declaration of war political decisions—these days surrendering isn’t a general’s decision, but a president’s or another politician’s.
|ceasefire||el cese al fuego|
|declaration of war||la declaración de guerra|
|national security||la seguridad nacional|
|prisoner of war||el prisionero de guerra|
|surrender||la rendición, rendirse|
|veteran||el veterano, la veterana|
|war criminal||el criminal de guerra|
Although you might find it counterintuitive, human rights are also closely related with war and, for that reason, I’m including some terms related to this important concept here.
|conscientious objector||el objetor de conciencia|
|Geneva Convention||la Convención de Ginebra|
|human rights||los derechos humanos|
|United Nations||las Naciones Unidas|
Increase Your Vocabulary and Learn Spanish
Increasing your vocabulary about the military in Spanish takes you one step closer to your goal of becoming fluent in the language.
If you’re in the US military, this can be a great benefit for you as Latino personnel make about 10% of the armed forces. If you aren’t part of the military, just remember that interpreters and translators are among the fastest growing occupations, and speaking Spanish can open a myriad of doors toward your dream job.
Sign up for a free class with one of our certified, native Spanish teachers from Guatemala. They teach more than 24,000 actively enrolled students every month and have been doing this for over 10 years. Choose the teacher that best fits your schedule and start speaking about the military in Spanish today!
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