Common Spanish Words for the Dearly Departed


by Patrick Jackson – LearnSpanishLikeCrazy

I prefer to publish lessons that cover common Spanish words about life and  other cheerful things. But since death  and dying are two things that are  certain in life (and most Spanish courses  do not cover such vocabulary), at the risk  of sounding “mórbido” (morbid) I thought  that I should include 10 Spanish  vocabulary words that I have heard used  in Latin America that cover this topic.

Common Spanish Words for the Dearly DepartedCommon Spanish Words 1. funeral = funeral

Yes, it is the same word in both  English and Spanish:

 Ayer ella fue al funeral de Miguel, la familia estaba  destrozada.

Yesterday, she went to Miguel’s funeral,  the family was greatly saddened.

Common Spanish Words 2. entierro = burial 

Cuando el tío de Paola murió, fuimos al entierro  para acompañarla. 

When Paola’s uncle died, we went to the burial  to accompany her.

Common Spanish Words 3. cementerio = cemetery   

Las tumbas de mis antepasados están en el  cementerio del pueblo. 

The graves of my ancestors are in the town’s  cemetery.

Common Spanish Words 4. ataúd = coffin, casket 

El ataúd era de madera con un crucifijo de plata en  la tapa.

The casket was made of wood with a silver crucifix  on top.

“Ataúd” is a somewhat formal word for casket. A less  formal word for casket that you will hear used  throughout Latin America is “cajón.” “Cajón” also  means ‘crate.’

Common Spanish Words 5. cadáver = corpse, dead body

Hace dos días que un cadáver apareció flotando  sobre el río.

Two days ago a dead body appeared  floating on top of the river.

Common Spanish Words 6. difunto = late, deceased

Esta es una foto de mi difunta esposa, de cuando  éramos novios.

This is a picture of my late wife from when we  were engaged.

Common Spanish Words 7.  fallecer = to pass away, to die

El cáncer que ella tiene está muy avanzado y,  según el médico, podría fallecer en cualquier  momento.

The cancer that she has is very advanced and, according to the doctor, she can pass away at  any moment.

Common Spanish Words 8. funeraria  = funeral parlor, funeral home

Los parientes del difunto se quedaron en  la funeraria toda la noche.

The relatives  of the deceased remained at the funeral  parlor all night.

Common Spanish Words 9. luto = mourning

En tiempos de mi abuelita la gente se vestía de negro  durante un año en señal de luto. 

During my grandmother’s times, the people dressed  in black for a year as a sign of mourning.

Common Spanish Words 10. velorio = wake

Anoche estuvimos en el velorio del abuelo de una  amiga, ella está muy triste.

Last night we were at the wake for a friend’s  grandfather, she is very sad.

One thing that I found strange about Colombia is  that when a family is very “pobre” (poor) it is not  unheard of for the family to have a “velorio”  (wake) in one’s home. I have an “amiga” from  a “pueblito” (small town) in Colombia. I visited  her “pueblito” with her once and she attended  a “velorio” (wake) while I was there.

And she  said that the “velorio” took place in a person’s  home because the deceased did not have “seguro”  (insurance) or “plata” (money) to pay a “funeraria”  (funeral parlor). However, she did say that sometimes  “velorios” take place in “iglesias” (churches). By the way, in Colombia they use the word  “plata” instead of “dinero” in order to say  money.

More  Common Spanish Words   – Accept My Condolences

Before I go, here’s a bonus Spanish phrase  related to this same topic: How to say “accept my  condolences” in Spanish? There are a couple of ways to say it if speaking  to the person who suffered the loss in his or  her family. You can say:

Mi más sentido pésame. = Accept my condolences.

Not a literal translation but close enough.

Admittedly, “mi más sentido pésame” sounds somewhat formal. If you prefer to sound a little less formal  you can just say:

Lo siento mucho.  I am very sorry.  (Literally, “I feel it a lot.”)

If you are not speaking directly to the person  who suffered the loss in his or her family  and want to say “give him/her my condolences”  you can say either of the following:

Dale mi más sentido pésame.  Dale mis condolencias.