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.
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.