The Spanish term Cabron comes with many meanings, all depending on contexts.
However, it is often associated with English insults such as “bastard”, “idiot” or “dumbass”. Sometimes it is just another term for “dude” or “bloke”.
In a sexual context, it is also the Spanish term for a cuckold.
The term is not generally offensive in Spain, but rather in Latin-American countries such as Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
As with most offensive terms, it can be used jokingly between good friends, but should be avoided when talking to strangers.
If you call your friend a “son of a bitch”, its funny, but if you say it to a stranger they will likely get offended.
Origin of the term
“Cabron” originally means “male goat”, or “big goat”, and the offense lies in the act of calling someone a goat, often considered a dumb animal.
This primitive sense of the term dates back to the 13th century.
Goats are also known for eating anything handed to them, just like any bastard, proving how the two terms are associated.
Later, the term took a turn to the positive, just like originally negative English terms such as “sick” or “wicked” that can equally be good or bad.
One of the positive uses of “cabron” is equivalent to “badass”.
Spread of the term
While the term slowly spread to English speaking countries due to migration and tourism, its main distributor is reggaeton and Latin music.
Reggaeton singer Arcángel released his track Flow Cabron in 2015, in this sense meaning “badass sense”.
Even earlier, American rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers already found inspiration in the Spanish slang term and named their 2002 track “Cabron”.
In Mexico today, it is illegal to play the short car horn jingle “Shave and a Haircut (Two Bits)”, as it is associated with the offensive expression “Chinga tu madre, Cabron”, both containing the same 7 notes.
It became a traffic violation due to often provoking road rage.
- Dictionary.com – Cabrón