A New Spanish Word, after 18 years!


Deep in the basement of Madrid’s beautiful old Mercado Vallehermoso, where fruit stalls are being replaced by cool eateries, I found this notice on the back of the toilet door. Can you guess which word I’d never heard after 18 years living in Spain?

Pulcritud! Who can be the first to look it up and give a definition in the comments? And feel free to leave your favourite new word too!

42 thoughts on “A New Spanish Word, after 18 years!

  1. David

    pulcritud = neatness, tidiness (in other words, don’t leave the restroom a mess!)

    Una de mis palabras favoritas es “energĆŗmeno” (una persona loca, salvaje)

  2. Eoin Ɠ Carra

    Hmm! I thought you had the same word in English, just spelt differently: pulchritude (if I remember correctly).
    Maybe you’re losing your English according as you gain Spanish? (lol)
    Gach deĆ”-ghuĆ­

  3. mark dowd

    my new favourite word I came across in a football article..

    descuajaringarse….to fall to pieces…

    “Pulcritud”…definitely un amigo falso…as “pulchritude” in English is really beauty of the female variety.

  4. Claire

    I learnt a nice new word yesterday – apĆ³cope. It means the short form of a name, e.g. Mamen is an apĆ³cope for Maria del Carmen, and Ben for Benjamin.

  5. jim

    Well I thought it was ‘pero se ruega’ for ‘pulcritud’ appears in a dual translation book of short stories that I relax with in the sun on my terrace.
    Here in Mallorca the language is a mixture of Castilian and Mallorcan and my favourite word is a contraction of Pan amb oli’ ….bread with oil…which is spoken as Pamboli’….nice

  6. Jen

    It’s a cognate for the English word “pulchritude”, meaning “beauty.” In the U.S., it’s a vocabulary word learned in preparation for our college entrance exams (SAT.). It’s a word rarely used outside of literary circles.

  7. Steve Fine

    I learned the English word “Pulchritude” from a friend of mine who happens to be an engineer. According to him it means beauty.

    He was telling me a joke. What is the smallest unit of Pulchritude? The answer is a “MiniHelen”. You see, a Helen has the pulchritude that can launch 1000 ships. A minihelen has only enough pulchritude to launch one ship.

  8. Phil Tilson

    It’s a strange thing. So many words – in English at least – are almost onomatopœic (now there’s a nice word!) in their suitability: smo-o-o-the, perky, l-a-a-a-ngourous and so on. But I have always thought that pulchritudinous, to mean beautiful, is so inappropriate. Perhaps that’s why it’s rarely used!

    Another mismatch, in my mind, is bucolic. It makes me think of drunks in doorways, but actually means rurally attractive!

  9. Drew

    In one of his movies, W.C. Fields commented on the beautiful girls walking down the street, “Ah, yes, all this pulchritudinous pulchritude!”

  10. Jim Reaven

    Neatness in Spanish. In English it usually means female beauty, sometimes used for fleshy sexyness. The Latin pulcher just means beauty.

  11. Susie

    Cleanliness. And the new word you’ve just taught me is “aseos.” I learned only “baƱo.” Ā”Gracias!

  12. Edward

    Ā”Vaya! Significa Neatness hombre!

    Nuevo proyecto pronto??

    Fui a Museo de sorolla debido a sus recomendaciĆ³n y debo decir es una joya!! Gracias ?

  13. Barbara de California

    Durante aƱos creĆ­ “pulchritude” en InglĆ©s significaba “mujer gorda” debido al modismo “feminine pulchritude.” De hecho, Ā”significa “hermosa” en InglĆ©s y “orden” en espaƱol!

  14. Ben Post author

    Thanks for all the comments so far! Yes, I did sleep through my Latin classes and may well be forgetting my English! I don’t recall ever coming across pulchritude in English!

    1. Sue Hopkinson

      Feeling quite pleased with myself – as I did know the word. In English and Latin (which I studied nearly 60 years ago!)

  15. Don

    Wow your blog is fun and a bit intimidating, as apparently, so many contributors have such extensive Spanish under their belts. Dies y ocho anos aleady!
    I didn’t guess pulchritude. It was in my lexicon of English and I was looking at a few words that were still foreign to me. My own recollection of pulchrtude agrees with feminine beauty.

  16. Robert Tansony

    Wonderful post Ben – no se que es la mas “awesome “, the comments or your original post. Lo siento, pero creo que es las “comments”.

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