A new Spanish word that I learned


by Patrick Jackson – LearningSpanishLikeCrazy

I picked up a new Spanish word today. The last time that I was in the States I was practicing “jiu-jistu brasileño” (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) which I also practice here in Medellin, Colombia. And while in the States, I somehow caught a nasty case of ringworm.

Image from page 209 of "A practical treatise on diseases of the skin, for the use of students and practitioners" (1897)

I know you usually only hear about children getting infected with ringworm. But it is a very common infection among practitioners of “jiu-jistu brasileño,” “lucha” (wrestling) and “artes marciales mixtas” (MMA/mixed martial arts). I don’t know if I got it from fighting on a dirty “colchoneta” (mat) or if while wrestling I came in direct contact with someone who had ringworm.

Many people who practice any of the above sports consider ringworm an “insignia de honor” (badge of honor). But I consider it a very annoying infection.

So when I returned to Colombia, I went to the “farmacia” (pharmacy) for a “pomada” (ointment) or “crema” (cream). But before I went to the “farmacia” (pharmacy) I went online to find the Spanish word for ringworm.

According to WordReference.com, the Spanish word for “ringworm” is “tiña” — which is a new word for me. But no one in the “farmacia” here in Medellin was familiar with the word “tiña.” But when I described the infection, I was told in the “farmacia” that the word to use is “hongos.”

The Spanish word “hongos” literally means fungus or mushrooms. By the way, when I first moved to Colombia in 2007 and I lived in a coastal city (Barranquilla), I had a case of athlete’s foot. I went online and found that the Spanish word or phrase for athlete’s foot is “pie de atleta.” But when I went to a “farmacia” with a Colombian friend and I asked for “una crema para pie de atleta,” my Colombian friend interrupted and said “hongos de los pies” — which literally means “fungus of the feet.”

So in Colombia, if by chance you get a case of ringworm or athlete’s foot, you will not want to use the terms “tiña” and “pie de atleta.” Instead, you will want to use the words “hongos” and “hongos de los pies,” respectively.