What does cabrón mean?
Literally meaning “male goat,” cabrón is a Spanish slang word roughly equivalent to the English bastard, badass, or dude, depending on context. 🐐
Where does cabrón come from?
Cabrón begins as a “male goat,” with chiva as its female counterpart. But Spanish speakers are clever, and earthy, with their slang.
Goats have a reputation for eating anything, hence their association with the lowly likes of a “bastard.” But, as is often the case in slang, negative words can get a positive spin. Think bad, sick, ill, or wicked in English. This inversion also took place for cabrón, which evolved to name someone who is exceptionally skilled at something—a badass.
So, is cabrón bad or good?! Well, if you’re an English speaker, you can tell the difference just fine between calling something shit as opposed to calling something the shit. Spanish speakers do this for cabrón.
Many English speakers will encounter cabrón in reggaeton, a genre of music massively popular throughout Latin America and the US. A few notable songs include 2015’s “Flow Cabrón” (badass sense) by Dominican-American singer Arcángel and “Esta Cabrón” (bastard sense) by Puerto Rican rappers Ñejo and Gotay.
A more mainstream instance comes from American rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who released a song called “Cabrón” in 2002. The song, whose chorus repeats cabrón, is about frustrations with a menacing individual, possibly a gang member, hence cabrón.
Examples of cabrón
Who uses cabrón?
Context is everything with cabrón, as it can be an actual male goat, a bastard, something awesome, someone very skilled, or a term of endearment among bros.
It’s widespread in the Spanish-speaking word, including Latin America and especially in Mexico, where it enjoys especial “badassery.” In Nicaragua, a cabrón can more specifically refer to a man who has been cheated on, or cuckold.
So, if your buddy does something great, you might call them cabrón. If you’re looking to pick a fight with a stranger, though, call them cabrón. The female equivalent is cabróna, “or bitch,” not chiva.
Mom, you owe me 500 dollars. / You owe me your life, bastard.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of cabrón like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of cabrón that will help our users expand their word mastery.