How to Say Common Cold in Spanish: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to the common cold, communication is essential, especially when you’re in a Spanish-speaking country or interacting with Spanish speakers. Whether you want to ask for medicine at a local pharmacy or simply explain your symptoms to a Spanish-speaking friend, knowing how to say “common cold” in Spanish can be incredibly helpful. In this guide, we will explore both the formal and informal ways to express this term, while also providing some regional variations if necessary.

Formal Ways to Say Common Cold

In formal settings or when speaking with someone you have a professional relationship with, it’s important to use the appropriate language. Here are some formal ways to refer to the common cold in Spanish:

  • Gripe común: This is the most common formal term used to refer to the common cold in Spanish. It is widely understood and accepted across various Spanish-speaking regions.
  • Resfriado: Another formal term used to describe the common cold, which can be used interchangeably with “gripe común.” It is also widely recognized and understood.

Informal Ways to Say Common Cold

When speaking with friends, family, or in casual settings, you can use more informal expressions to refer to the common cold. Here are some examples:

  • Catarro: This is a commonly used term in many Spanish-speaking countries to refer to the common cold. It’s a bit more colloquial and informal compared to “gripe común” and “resfriado.”
  • Resfrío: This term is mostly used in Latin America and some Spanish-speaking regions of the Caribbean to describe a common cold. It is less commonly used in Spain.
  • Constipado/a: This term is typically used in Spain to describe a common cold. It’s less common in Latin American countries, where “catarro” or “resfriado” are preferred.

Regional Variations

While the above terms are widely understood, it’s worth noting that some regional variations exist within the Spanish-speaking world. Below are a few examples:

Cabezal de hierro – This phrase is an old colloquial term used in parts of Mexico to describe a common cold. While it’s not commonly used anymore, you may still come across it in some rural areas.

It’s important to remember that while these regional variations exist, they are not commonly used and may lead to confusion in unfamiliar contexts. Stick to the more widely recognized terms mentioned earlier unless you are in a specific local setting where these variations are known.

Usage in Sentences

To help you understand the usage of these terms, here are a few examples of how to incorporate them into common sentences:

  • Formal: Durante el invierno, es común que la gente se contagie de gripe común. (During winter, it is common for people to catch the common cold.)
  • Informal: No puedo ir a la reunión hoy, estoy muy resfriado/a. (I can’t attend the meeting today, I have a bad cold.)
  • Regional Variation: Me agarró un catarro después de salir bajo la lluvia. (I caught a cold after going out in the rain.)

Remember, context and familiarity with the person you are conversing with will dictate which term you should use. When in doubt, opt for the more widely understood and accepted terms like “gripe común” or “resfriado.”


Now that you are well-equipped with different ways to express the term “common cold” in Spanish, both formally and informally, you can confidently communicate your symptoms or ask for assistance when needed. Remember to adapt your language to the appropriate context, and if you ever encounter regional variations, take the time to understand the local preferences. Stay healthy and happy communicating!

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