The word “gordo” is translated as “fat” so you would think there wouldn’t be much room for discussion about this word. But hey, this is Spanish and simple words are often a lot more versatile then they seem.
Gordo in Spanish doesn’t always have to refer to weight.
In some Latin American countries, people will refer to their boyfriend or girlfriend as gordo or gorda even if he is nothing but skin and bones. In this sense, gordo is simply a term of endearment.
Being fat isn’t always a bad thing
Gordo is often used as its literal translation of “fat” but it is not nearly as taboo as it is in English. It is very common for friends to refer to chubbier friends as el gordito or la gordita or simply el gordo or la gorda. The first time I heard someone use these terms was when my host mom in Argentina was trying to get me to remember a friend of hers I had met, so I assumed the description was only for my benefit and not something she would say to the woman’s face. However, the next time the woman showed up, my host mom lovingly called her gordita and the woman just smiled and returned her hello. My mind was blown. A woman being called fat and not caring? Could this be?
Get some self-confidence and get ready for the harsh truth.
While sometimes (like in the aforementioned example) the term is not offensive and accepted as nothing more than a nickname given to you by a friend, it can also be used in a straight forward observation. Many Latin Americans will have absolutely no reservations about telling you that you are looking gordo or gorda. Most of the time, you shouldn’t take offense, especially if it is from a mom or grandmother figure, as they often mean it as a way to say you are looking healthy and well-fed.
Of course, that is only most of the time and does not generally apply to people you are not close to. Once, my landlord in Argentina (who I hated, by the way) came into my home and said “Rease, te ves mucho más gorda” (Rease, you look much fatter). I stared at her in disbelief, “Cómo?” (What?). She responded, “Cuando llegaste acá eras como así (showing her pinky finger) pero ahora estas más gorda. ¡Te gusta la comida Argentina!” (When you arrived here, you were like this, but now you are fatter. You like Argentine food!).
I told her she was incredibly rude and asked her to leave. While she insisted she was not insulting me, I checked with Argentine friends and they assured me that she had overstepped her boundaries. So, take comfort in the fact that normally, you will not have to endure as harsh of a review as I did, but know that your friend’s mom might tell you that your pudgy cheeks are looking rosy and well-fed.
Have you ever had a run-in with using the word GORDO in Spanish?
Check out these other articles about the Spanish Language.