language, translation, word of the month

Word of the Month: FRIOLENTO (Latin America) – Friolero (Spain)

Sometimes the sound of a word makes it beautiful; other times, its meaning makes it stand out. Whether you love the Spanish language for its flavours or you love it for its richness and depth, there are words that abound for all of us to savour. Like any language, Spanish has regional particularities and a different style wherever you go, whether its downtown Buenos Aires or in Granada. As one of the most spoken and understood languages on earth, you will find people all over the globe speaking Spanish and giving it their own style wherever you go.

In this blog series, I want to explore some of my favourite words in Spanish, their meanings and why I love them so all of you can enjoy too. The first job of a translator is to love language – all languages – and to want to share that beauty with the rest of the world. Everything follows from this passion that I hope to embody every day of my career.

Word: Friolento

Meaning: Sensitivity to cold, or a person who is very sensitive to cold

Example:  El es muy friolento

 While we look forward to the final weeks of winter (or months, depending on where you live) I want to share a seasonally appropriate word: friolento. These days you’re probably hearing a lot of complaints from the friolentos in your life!

Spanish has many words that wonderfully capture a specific notion, but have no direct translation in English. These unique words are what make languages so interesting, and translation so challenging.

We all know a friolento – someone who is always complaining of cold or bundled in sweaters ten months out of the year. At this time of year many of us start to get un poco friolentos  as we wait for the snow to finally melt. Friolento can be used as an adjective, as in “Mi abuelo es muy friolento”, “My grandfather is very sensitive to cold.” It is also used as a noun, as in “Juan es un friolento”, “Juan is someone who really complains about the cold.” Depending on the context, calling someone a friolento can imply that they might be overly sensitive or a bit of a complainer when it comes to the cold. It usually describes someone who feels cold when others don’t, or who suffers more in the cold than others.

In some Latin American countries friolero is used with the meaning of a considerable sum of money, “Pagó for su automovil una friolera de $50,00”, “He paid for his car such (big) an amount of $50,000.”

You would think that English, a language originating in the rainy, grey British Isles, would have a word for the constantly chilly, but perhaps it isn’t surprising that Spanish, a language mainly spoken in warm and sunny regions has a word to describe someone who is so sensitive to cold that they even need a sweater in sunny Rio de Janeiro!

Until next time, I hope all my friolentos readers keep warm while we wait for the snow to melt and clouds to clear!





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