How to Say “Dumb” in Spanish: Formal and Informal Ways

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various formal and informal ways to express the word “dumb” in Spanish. Whether you’re learning the language for travel, work, or simply out of interest, understanding how to convey this concept accurately and respectfully is vital. We’ll cover a range of options, with examples and tips to help you navigate regional variations and ensure clarity in your Spanish conversations.

Formal Ways to Say “Dumb” in Spanish

When communicating in formal settings or situations, it’s important to use respectful language. Here are some formal alternatives for describing someone as “dumb” in Spanish:

  • Tonto/a: This is a common and neutral term that can be used formally. When addressing a male, you would say “tonto,” and when addressing a female, you would use “tonta.” For example, “Esa persona es tonta” (That person is dumb).
  • Estúpido/a: Although slightly stronger than “tonto/a,” this term is still acceptable in formal contexts. Similarly, you would adjust the gender to “estúpido” for males and “estúpida” for females. For instance, “Es un comentario estúpido” (It’s a dumb comment).

Informal Ways to Say “Dumb” in Spanish

In informal situations, such as casual conversations among friends or family, you can use more relaxed and colloquial expressions to convey the idea of “dumb.” Here are a few commonly used informal terms:

  • Bobo/a: This is a friendly and mild way to describe someone as “dumb.” It is commonly used amongst friends. For example, “No seas bobo, eso es fácil” (Don’t be stupid, that’s easy).
  • Idiota: Although stronger than “bobo/a,” “idiota” is still relatively informal and often used in a teasing or playful manner. For instance, “¡Eres un idiota!” (You’re dumb!)
  • Pendejo/a: This term is more colloquial and used primarily in certain regions, such as Mexico and parts of Central America. Be cautious as it may carry a slightly offensive tone. For example, “No seas pendejo, hazlo bien” (Don’t be dumb, do it correctly).

Tips for Using These Terms

When using these expressions to describe someone as “dumb,” it’s crucial to consider context, tone, and your relationship with the person. Here are some tips to ensure the right usage:

1. Respectful Tone: Even in informal settings, always strive to maintain a respectful tone. Words like “bobo/a,” “idiota,” and especially “pendejo/a” can easily sound offensive if not used in a friendly or familiar context.

2. Be Mindful of Cultural Differences: Remember that regional variations exist in the Spanish language, and certain terms may be more commonly used in specific countries or areas. Consider the cultural context to choose the most appropriate term.

3. Gauging Familiarity: Use informal terms like “bobo/a” or “idiota” only with people you are familiar with. In formal or professional settings, stick to more neutral options like “tonto/a” or “estúpido/a.”

Remember, the key is to convey your meaning accurately and respectfully. Context and understanding of your relationship with the person you are speaking to are crucial when selecting the appropriate term.

Now, let’s dive into some examples to provide further clarity on how to use these expressions in different situations.


Formal Examples:

  • “No deberías hacer ese tipo de preguntas tontas” (You shouldn’t ask such dumb questions).
  • “Es una idea estúpida para resolver el problema” (It’s a dumb idea to solve the problem).

Informal Examples:

  • “No seas bobo/a, todos podemos aprender eso” (Don’t be dumb, we can all learn that).
  • “Deja de hacer comentarios idiotas, por favor” (Stop making dumb comments, please).
  • “Eres un pendejo/a si crees eso” (You’re dumb if you believe that).

Remember, these examples depend on the context, your relationship with the person, and the level of formality required. Always consider these factors when using these expressions in conversation.


In conclusion, knowing how to describe someone as “dumb” is an essential skill in any language, including Spanish. By using the alternatives provided in this guide, both formal and informal, you can effectively convey your message while respecting others. Remember to adjust the terms based on gender and seek familiarity or formality, depending on the situation. As with any language, cultural context plays an important role, so stay mindful of regional variations and potential differences in meaning. Practice using these expressions appropriately, and you’ll soon be able to navigate conversations in Spanish with confidence!

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