Saturday, March 10, 2012

Soy pelimorado a rayas

One of the first words you learn in Spanish is the word for hair - pelo.  And if you're lucky, somewhere along the way you learn that cabello is the official Spanish word for hair, although pelo is the colloquial and most common way to refer to hair.

You probably also learned to describe hair colors:

Marrón,  castaño, café - Brown
Negro - Black
Gris, canas - Grey
Rubio - Blonde
Blanco - White
Rojo - Red

To tell someone what color your hair is, you can say:

Tengo el pelo negro
I have black hair

And to talk about someone else, you can say:

Tiene el pelo rubio
She has blonde hair

Let's take a related, but short detour.

Someone with blonde hair can also be referred to as güero or güera.  A red head, or pelo rojo, can be referred to as pelirojo, or peliroja.  What this means is instead of saying:

Tiene el pelo rojo

You can say:

Es güera
She's a blonde

Es peliroja
She's a redhead

If you want to talk about a guy, just use güero or pelirojo instead.  

And I went on for years with that knowledge thinking I knew everything was to know about hair color in Spanish.  And then it happened.  I came across the word pelinegra.

My first thought was "peli what?".

Pelinegra?  How is it possible I've never seen this word before?

A few quick Google searches confirmed what seemed to be obvious, that pelinegra refers to a woman with black hair.  Being overly curious about things in Spanish (meaning obsessive) I figured I'd ask my amigos about this.  My amigos, actually in this case are amigas from Venezuela and Spain.  I asked them about the word pelinegra and the answer they gave me was pretty shocking.

They had never heard of it.

I don't know, maybe I was butchering the pronunciation.  But then again, all Spanish words are not used in all Spanish countries, so I suppose I really shouldn't be that surprised.  Anyway, I decided that I would have to do some research of my own.

Peliroja and pelinegra are not the only other peli~ options available.

Peliazul - Blue hair

Pelirubia  - Blonde hair

Pelichino - Curly hair
  * A quick note here.  In Mexico pelichino is very likely going to be straight hair, while in the rest
    of the world it will be curly hair

Pelilacio - Straight hair

Pelicastaña - Brown hair

Peligris - Grey hair

Pelinaranja - Orange hair

And my personal favorite:

Soy pelimorado a rayas  

Is a translation really necessary?  Although an explanation for such an atrocity might be nice.

Be sure to remember to use the correct o/a ending for male and female, and have fun with these!



  1. That is some great information. I'd heard of pelirojo before but not any of the others.

  2. ten cuidado con pelo chino, nosotros mexicanos decimos chino=curly. Pero estaba en la Republica Dominicana y dicen rizado=curly, chino=very straight, like hair that Asian people tend to have. O backwards of us.