“Coño” – A word for love, hate, and everything in-between

Context: MIMI #4

My informant is an 84 year-old woman of Spanish / Cuban ethnicity. She grew up in Havana, Cuba and lived there until she had to leave due to the take over of communism at the age of 22. This story was told as an explanation of the word “coño” in the Cuban perspective. The joy in her eyes from describing one of the most important words in her language was beautiful to see. 

Dictionary Definitions: Beaver, fanny, hell, holy crap, bloody hell… etc.


“The word is used tremendously in Cuba. coño is used very much in Spain as well. It cant really be translated, it’s an expression. This is the word for the daily life of daily Cubans in Cuba. It is used in so many ways in various significant ways. Without that word, you really couldn’t express a lot of things. This is a word that carries through everything that’s happening in your life: happiness, unhappiness, fights, thoughts, sadness, anger. I.. I mean it is truly a word that carries on throughout your life. So, if you’re gonna choose one word forever and only one, I would pick that one.”

Upon hearing this story, I was trying to think of a word in the english language that encompassed as much meaning as “coño”, but I really could not think of anything as specific as this. It is a word that fluidly floats through every facet of the human experience and is used to highlight these moments of great despair, happiness, anger, or love. I am curious to know how the word grew into its universal nature, as it seems as though it would have started out with a more singular meaning.

As someone who loves words and language entirely, I find it fascinating that a single expression can be used in so many different ways, depending on sentence structure and the way that it is performed. I think the closest expression we would have in english would be “wow”, because it can be used in so many different situations.

For another reference of ways to use the word, check here: