A Collection of Spanish False Friends, for English Speakers (and vice-versa)

This is a collection of words compiled while giving Spanish language classes in High School. By now there are 146 entries, I will keep updating the content according to new “discoveries”.

In GREEN the Spanish word
In RED: its English false friend

*** Indicate a fundamental Spanish word
** Indicate an important word
* Indicates a less used word, still fun to include, and worth of consideration

 

***Abogado is NOT an avocado
Abogado: lawyer, advocate, (solicitor, barrister, in the UK)
Avocado: aguacate (“palta”, in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay)

 

**Acordar is NOT an accord
Acordar: to agree, to resolve (and acordarse: to remember)
Accord: acuerdo, pacto

 

***Actualmente does NOT mean actually      
Actualmente: at the moment, at present, nowadays, these days
Actually: de hecho, realmente, en realidad

 

**Advertir is NOT advertise
Advertir
: to warn, to notice
Advertise: anunciar, hacer publicidad

 

**Agenda is NOT an agent nor an agenda
Agenda: schedule, calendar, appointment book
Agent: agente
Agenda: orden del día, plan escondido, plan secreto

 

***Arena is (normally) NOT an arena
Arena: sand
Arena: estadio (only seldom, arena)

 

***Argumento is NOT an argument
Argumento: plot, topic
Argument: discusión, disputa

 

**Asignatura is NOT a signature
Asignatura: subject, study matter or course, classes
Signature: firma

 

**Asistir does NOT mean to assist
Asistir: to attend (asistencia: attendance)
To assist: ayudar

 

**Billón is NOT a billion  
Billón: trillion
Billion: mil millones

 

*Balde is NOT bald            
Balde: bucket
Bald: calvo

 

*Bizarro is NOT bizzare    
Bizarro: courageous, generous, valiant, gallant
Bizzare: extraño, raro

 

***Blanco is NOT blank nor black
Blanco: white
Blank: en blanco, vacío, virgen
Black: negro

 

**Blando is NOT bland      
Blando: soft, gentle, mild
Bland: soso

 

***Bombero is NOT a bomber
Bombero: fireman, firefighter
Bomber: bombardero, terrorista

 

**Borde is NOT board
Borde: rim, or, as a person: rude
Board: tabla

 

**Bravo is NOT the same bravo used in the opera (from Italian “bravo”: skilled, capable, good) nor brave
Bravo: fierce, wild, furious, brave, courageous
Bravo (used as in the opera): ¡Olé!
Bravo: valiente

 

***Campo is NOT a camp 
Campo: field, pitch, country, countryside
Camp: campamento

 

***Cara is NOT a car
Cara: face
Car: coche or carro

 

***Caro is NOT a car either
Caro: expensive
Car: coche or carro

 

***Carpeta is NOT a carpet nor a rug             
Carpeta: folder, file
Carpet: alfombra (Persian), moqueta

 

***Carta is NOT a cart        
Carta: letter, menu
Cart: carrito, carro, carretilla

 

***Casualidad is NOT casualty
Casualidad: coincidence, chance
Casualty: baja, herido (wounded), víctima mortal (dead)

 

**Chillar is NOT to chill
Chillar: to scream
To chill: congelar

 

***Chocar is NOT to choke
Chocar: to collide, to crash, to run into
Choke: ahogar, asfixiar, estrangular

 

***Codo is NOT a code      
Codo: elbow
Code: código, clave

 

***Cola is NOT a cole
Cola: tail
Cole: col

 

***Colegio is NOT a college
Colegio (or: cole, escuela): school
College: Universidad

 

**Collar is most of the times NOT a collar
Collar: necklace (collar for pets)

 

**Comodidad is NOT a commodity               
Comodidad: comfort, convenience
Commodity: producto, mercancía, artículo, materia prima

 

**Complemento is NOT a compliment          
Complemento: complement, object
Compliment: piropo, cumplido, halago

 

**Compromiso is NOT to compromise
Compromiso
: commitment, engagement, obligation
Compromise: término medio, solución de compromiso, acuerdo mutuo

 

**Concreto is NOT concrete
Concreto: specific, concrete, real, realistic
Concrete: cemento

 

***Conductoris NOT a conductor
Conductor: driver, conductive
Conductor: director de orquesta,

 

***Constipado is NOT constipated
Constipado: to have a cold
Constipated: estreñido

 

***Contestar is NOT a contest
Contestar
: to answer
Contest: concurso, competición, contienda

 

***Culo does NOT mean cool
Culo: butt, a**
Cool: frío, fresco. In the sense of “to be cool”: guay

 

**Cuota is NOT a quote
Cuota: membership, partecipation fee or dividend
Quote: presupuesto, cita (in and from a book, paper, etc.)

 

**Currante is NOT currant
Currante: worker, hard worker
Currant: grosella

 

***Decepción is NOT a deception
Decepción
: disappointment, disenchantment
Deception: engaño, falsedad

 

***Delito is NOT a delight
Delito: crime, common offence
Delight: encanto, placer, gusto, deleite, delicia

 

***Desgracia is NOT disgrace
Desgracia: bad luck, mischance, misfortune, mishap
Disgrace: vergüenza, deshonra, deshonor, escándalo

 

***Desierto is NOT a dessert
Desierto: desert
Dessert: postre

 

***Despertar is NOT to be desperate              
Despertar: to wake up, to awake, to arouse
Desperate: desesperado

 

**Destituir is NOT destitute
Destituir: to remove from office, to dismiss
Destitute: indigente, mísero, desposeído, pordiosero

 

***Dinero is NOT related to dinner
Dinero: money
Dinner: cena

 

***Disgusto is NOT disgust
Disgusto: displeasure, annoyance, anger
Disgust: asco, repugnancia

 

***Diversión does NOT mean diversion       
Diversión: fun, entertainment, amusement
Diversion: desviación, desvío

 

***Divertir is NOT to divert
Divertir: to have fun, to entertain, to amuse
To divert: distraer, desviar

 

*Dormitorio is NOT exactly a dormitory
Dormitorio: bedroom, bedroom furniture
Dormitory: residencia universitaria

 

***Educación is NOT education
Educación
: politeness
Education
: (tener)estudios

 

***Embarazada does NOT mean embarassed
Embarazada: pregnant
Embarassed: avergonzado, embarazoso

 

***Excitado does NOT mean excited
Excitado: aroused
Excited: agitado, emocionado

 

***Emocionado does NOT mean emotional  
Emocionado: moved, excited
(Emocionante: thrilling)
Emocional: sentimental

 

***Empresa is NOT related with empress nor it means to impress
Empresa
: business company
Empress: imperatriz
To impress: impresionar

 

***En absoluto is NOT absolutely
En absoluto: absolutely not!
Absolutely: totalmente, completamente, absolutamente, seguramente

 

***Enviar does NOT mean to envy
Enviar: to send
To envy: envidiar, tener envidia

 

***Envolver is NOT to involve
Envolver: to wrap
To involve: involucrar, suponer, implicar, conllevar

 

***Escuchame (from the verb: “escuchar”) does NOT mean excuse me
Escuchame: listen to me
Excuse me: disculpe, discúlpeme, perdóneme

 

***Espada does NOT mean spade
Espada: sword
Spade: pala

 

**Espectáculo does NOT mean spectacles      
Espectáculo: show, performance, entertainment
Spectacles: gafas, lupas

 

**Estirar does NOT mean to stir
Estirar: to stretch (a man “estirado”: snob, arrogant)
To stir: remover, mezclar

 

**Estrechar does NOT mean to stretch
Estrechar: to narrow, bring closer together (“estrechar una Amistad”: become friends)
To stretch: estirar, estirarse

 

**Estremecer is not related to extreme
Estremecer: to shake, to thrill
Extreme: extremo

 

***Éxito is NOT an exit      
Éxito: success
Exit: salida

 

***Extranjero does NOT mean stranger         
Extranjero: foreigner
Stranger: extraño, desconocido, forastero

 

***Fábrica does NOT mean fabric
Fábrica: factory, plant
Fabric: tela, tejido

 

***Falta does NOT mean fault
Falta: error, lack, mistake, shortage, absence
Fault: culpa

 

***Fila is NOT a file
Fila: rank
File: archivo

 

***Firma does NOT mean firm
Firma: signature
Firm: compañía, empresa

 

*Ganga in NOT gang         
Ganga: bargain, good buy (also called: chollo)
Gang: pandilla, panda,banda

 

**Gentil does NOT mean gentle
Gentil: kind, charming
Gentle: tierno, bondadoso, dulce

 

***Grabar does NOT mean grab
Grabar: to tape, to record, to engrave
Grab: agarrar, coger, pillar

 

***Gracioso does NOT mean gracious           
Gracioso: funny, amusing
Gracious: cortés, amable, benévolo

 

**Grosería is NOT a grocery
Grosería: rude remark , rudeness, coarseness, rude expression “Un grosero”: a rude person.
Grocery: tienda de comestibles, tienda de ultramarinos.

 

**Grueso is NOT gross nor gruesome
Grueso: thick
Gross: asqueroso
Gruesome: horrible

 

***Horno is NOT a horn    
Horno: oven
Horn: cuerno, asta, bocina

 

**Idioma does NOT mean idiom
Idioma: language, foreign language
Idiom: frase hecha, modismo

 

***Ingenuidad is not ingenuity
Ingenuidad: naivety, simplicity of mind
Ingenuity: ingenio, ingeniosidad, inventiva

 

***Introducir is NOT to introduce
Introducir: to insert
Introduce: presentar

 

***Jubilación does NOT mean to be jubilant
Jubilación: retirement  (jubilado: retired)
Jubilant: jubiloso, feliz

 

***Largo does NOT mean large
Largo: long
Large: grande, numeroso, amplio

 

**Lavar is NOT related to lava
Lavar: to wash
Lava: lava

 

***Lectura is NOT a lecture
Lectura: reading
Lecture: conferencia, clase, reprimenda, sermón

 

***Lentilla is not a lentil   
Lentilla: contact lens
Lentil: lenteja

 

***Librería is not a library
Librería: bookshop, bookstore
Library: biblioteca

 

**Mantel is not a mantle   
Mantel: table cloth
and Manta: blanket
Mantle: manto, capa

 

***Mayor does NOT mean mayor
Mayor: bigger, biggest, older, oldest
Mayor: alcalde

 

***Media is NOT media    
Media: stocking (as an object) and half, (like in “medias tintas”, “half measures”, literally, “half ink”)
Media: medios de comunicación

 

*Mental in Spanish is anything related to the mind, but not necessarily the sick part of it.

 

***Mirar is (related to, but) NOT a mirror
Mirar: to look
Mirror: espejo

 

**Moda is generally NOT mode
Moda: fashion, trend, vogue
Mode: modo, manera, modalidad

 

**Molestar does NOT mean to molest           
Molestar: to annoy, to disturb, to bother, to upset
Molest: acosar, abusarsexualmente

 

***Mueble does NOT mean to movable        
Mueble: furniture, piece of furniture, furnishing
Movable: móvil, movible, movidizo
NOTE: móvil in Spanish is the common word for: cell phone.

 

***Negocio does NOT mean negotiation       
Negocio: business, deal (hombre de negocios: business man)
Negotiation: negociación

 

***Nombre does NOT mean number             
Nombre: name
Number: número

 

***Noticia does NOT mean notice
Noticia: news
Notice: anuncio, aviso

 

***Nudo does NOT mean nude
Nudo: knot
Nude: desnudo

 

***Oficio does NOT mean office
Oficio: job, occupation
Office: despacho, oficina

 

***Once is NOT related to once
Once: eleven
Once: una vez, una vez que, antes

 

***Pan does NOT mean pan
Pan: bread
Pan: sartén, cazuela, cacerola, paellera

 

***Parada is NOT a parade
Parada: stop, halt
Parade: desfile, revista

 

*Parcela does NOT mean parcel
Parcela: plot of land
Parcel: paquete

 

***Pariente does NOT mean parent
Pariente: relative
Parent: padre, madre, and together: padres

 

***Pie is NOT a pie             
Pie: foot
Pie: tarta, pastel

 

***Plan/plano are NOT planes
Plan: plan, design
Plano: flat
Plane (airplane): avión

 

***Plaza does NOT mean place
Plaza: square, seat, chair (in such jobs)
Place: lugar, sitio

 

***Precio does NOT mean prize
Precio: price
Prize: premio

 

***Pregunta has NO relation with pregnant
Pregunta: question
Pregnant: embarazada

 

*Predicamento is NOT related to predicament
Predicamento: appreciation (predicar: to preach)
Predicament: apuro, peligro

 

***Preservativo is NOT a preservative           
Preservativo: condom
Preservative: conservante

 

***Presumir does NOT mean to presume      
Presumir: to show off, to boast, to be vain
To presume: suponer, imaginarse

 

***Pretender does NOT mean to pretend       
Pretender: to try to, to want
To pretend: fingir, aparentar

 

***Probar is NOT to probe
Probar: try, attempt, essay
To probe: sondear, investigar, explorar

 

***Quieto does NOT mean quiet
Quieto: still, motionless
Quiet: silencioso, callado

 

***Raro does NOT mean rare
Raro: strange, odd, weird
Rare: poco común, poco frecuente, (for a steak: poco hecha)

 

***Realizar does NOT mean to realize           
Realizar: to make, to fulfil, to accomplish
To realize: dares cuenta, comprender

 

***Recordar does NOT mean to record          
Recordar (and acordarse de…): to remember, to remind
To record: grabar

 

***Red does NOT mean red
Red: network (like in retina)
Red: rojo

 

***Relativo does NOT mean relative             
Relativo: related to
Relative: pariente, familiar

 

**Remover is NOT to remove
Remover: to stir
To remove: quitar

 

**Restar does NOT mean to rest
Restar: to subtract
To rest: descansar, echar una siesta

 

***Resumir does NOT mean to resume         
Resumir: to summarize
To resume: reanudar

 

***Revolver is NOT a revolver
Revolver: to turn upside down, to stir, to toss, to mix
Revolver: revólver

 

***Ropa is NOT a rope      
Ropa: clothes, clothing, wear
Rope: cuerda, soga

 

***Sano does NOT mean sane
Sano: healthy
Sane: cuerdo, sensato

 

*Sauce is NOT a sauce        
Sauce: willow
Sauce: salsa

 

***Sentimental does NOT mean
sentimental
Sentimental: Afectivo
Sentimental: Emotional

 

***Sensible does NOT mean
sensible
Sensible: sensitive
Sensible: sensate

 

**Sensitivo does NOT mean sensitive
Sensitivo: sentient
Sensitive
: sensible

 

***Servicios is NOT always services
Servicios: toilet (servicios públicos: public toilets)

 

***Simpático does NOT mean sympathetic   
Simpático: nice, likeable, kind, friendly, charming
Sympathetic: compasivo, comprensivo

 

***Sopa is NOT soap          
Sopa: soup
Soap: jabón

 

***Soportar does NOT mean to support        
Soportar: to put up with, bear
To support: mantener, apoyar

 

***Suceso is NOT a success
Suceso: event, happening
Success: éxito

 

**Tabla is not a table
Tabla: plank
Table: mesa

 

***Tarjeta is NOT a target 
Tarjeta: card
Target: objetivo, blanco, diana

 

***Tienda is NOT a tent
Tienda: store, shop
Tent: tienda de campamento

 

**Tópico does NOT mean topic
Tópico: stereotype, common place, cliché
Topic: tema

 

**Trigo  is NOT trigger     
Trigo: wheat, grain
Trigger: gatillo
To trigger
: desencadenar, poner en marcha

 

**Trasladar(se) does NOT mean to translate 
Trasladar(se): to move, to transfer
To translate: traducir

 

*Tuna is not a tuna             
Tuna: university students musical group
Tuna: atún, bonito

 

***Último does NOT mean ultimate
Último
: last, final
Ultimate
: definitivo, extremo

 

***Últimamente does NOT mean ultimately
Últimamente: lately, recently
Ultimately: finalmente, en el fondo

 

***Vaso is NOT a vase       
Vaso: glass
Vase: jarrón, florero

 

*Vicioso does NOT mean vicious    
Vicioso: depraved, immoral
Vicious: cruel, feroz

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