Tuesday, March 7, 2017

No seas gallina

Apparently Spanish books think the only thing you need to know about chickens in Spanish is the word pollo.  Well, sooner or later you're going to discover that you need more than the word pollo to talk about chicken.

With that in mind, let's take a look at few things you should know.

Pollo is what chicken is called when it's on your plate.  While it's alive and well it goes by another name.

A gallo is what we call a rooster.

A gallina is a hen.

And little baby chickens, chicks, are called pollitos.

Maybe you remember this movie:

I have no idea why they called the chickens pollitos since they aren't chicks, but maybe they thought it sounded cuter than Gallos a la fuga.

Let's back up a minute and talk a little more about what chicken is called when it's on your plate.

To be honest, I spent years learning Spanish without ever knowing any words for chicken other than pollo.  In fact, it never even occurred to me to ask until I found myself in a situation where I needed the vocabulary and didn't know it.

I was wandering the streets of Tijuana and saw a viejita (little old lady) selling pollo rostizado (roasted chicken) .  I had to have some.  Of course as soon I stepped up to the ventanilla (the little window) to order, I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  Luckily for me she had a few signs up.

I ended up ordering a medio pollo , a half a chicken.  Which by the way was way too much.  I should have ordered the cuarto de pollo, or quarter chicken.  My eyes being bigger than my stomach aside, it was muy rico.  At least I didn't order a pollo entero (whole chicken).

Wings are an extremely popular menu item in sports bars, heck, just in general.  And if you want to order them, then you need to ask for alitas de pollo.  Or the simpler and more common way to refer to them, alitas.

Boneless chicken wings are alitas deshuesadas.

And if it's chicken fingers you're after, just ask for dedos de pollo.

You can have pollo asado (grilled chicken),  pollo frito (fried chicken), pollo del horno (baked chicken), or even pollo empanizado (breaded chicken).

Boneless chicken is referred to as  sin hueso.  Chicken that's been deboned is deshuesado.  The verb for deboning chicken is deshuesar.

Well, we learned how to ask for wings, let's look at how to ask for other parts of the chicken.

La pierna is a chicken leg.

A muslo is a thigh.  There are a lot of Spanish speaking countries, so you might get some variation and hear it called a cadera de pollo, or simply cadera.  But I would say muslo is your best bet.  And pechuga is chicken breast everywhere.

There's also caldo de pollo or caldo de gallina, chicken soup.  Technically gallina refers to a hen, but on a menu the word gallina tends to just be a synonym for chicken.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Piel de gallina is how you refer to goosebumps as well as chicken skin.

Tengo piel de gallina
I have goosebumps

There are also some fun expressions involving chicken.

¿Quén pidió pollo?

This expression is uniquely Colombian.  Well, at least to my knowledge it is.  It literally means:

Who ordered chicken?

And while you may actually find that question useful one day, the meaning we're after is quite a bit different.

In Colombia, the expression "¿Quén pidió pollo?" is a way to talk about someone you find attractive.

Here's how it works.

Someone attractive walks in the room and you look at your friends and say

¿Quén pidió pollo?
Who's that hottie?

My translation isn't literal, but that's pretty much the sentiment of the expression.  Keep this one in your back pocket for just the right time and your Colombian friends will be impressed.  And it works for both men and women.

By the way, if you're interested in picking up some more Colombian slang, then you can read some of my prior posts on Colombian Spanish or pick up a copy of the book Colombian Spanish.

¿Quién es tu gallo?

This expression is very Mexican.

So what does the expression "¿Quién es tu gallo?" mean?

It's a way of asking who you're rooting for.  In standard Spanish that would be:

¿Para quién vas?
Who are you going for?

This would also work

¿A quién apoyas?

I remember very clearly the first time I used the expression  "¿Quién es tu gallo?".  I was talking with a cab drive about the Mayweather vs Canelo fight.   I'm guessing he was quite surprised because he turned and looked at me and said "hablas mucho español" before answering the question.

That aside, to answer the question you can reply with the word gallo.

Canelo es mi gallo

And this expression isn't just limited to to boxing.  You can use this expression to talk about any sort of event.

This next one you'll probably find quite interesting.  Maybe even more so than the first two.

Eres  más puta que las gallinas

Literally this means you're more of a whore then female chickens.  Figuratively it's more like "You're a real slut", only stronger.   Maybe an equivalent expression would be "You'll f@ck anything wearing pants".  The word puta is what makes it so harsh, as if you needed me to tell you that.

If you want to soften that up just a tad, you can say:

Eres más suelta que las gallinas

The message is still the same, you just aren't using bad words to deliver it.  

However you translate it, you're saying that this woman is very loose, so be careful with this one.

Don't ask me where this expression comes from, I have no idea.  I guess hens are a lively bunch.  And one last thing.  That's the shortened version of the expression.  The full version is:

Eres mas puta que la gallina que aprendió a nadar para follarse a los patos
You're more of a whore then the hen that learned to swim to have sex with the ducks

Now, I softened up my translation because I generally like to keep this blog family friendly.  Just realize that follar is the vulgar way to talk about having sex.  If you're interested in learning about more explicit language then you want to read my No Seas Pelangoche blog.  I have a number of posts about the verb follar and it's like there.  But be warned, that blog is entirely composed of frank and explicit language.  It's not for the sensitive types.

And finally, we get to the tittle of today's post.

No seas gallina
Don't be chicken

I don't think this one needs any further explanation.

And that's it!  Unless you're a chicken farmer, you probably learned everything you need to know about chickens in Spanish.

¡Hasta la próxima!


  1. I also heard piel chinita for goosebumps

    1. Thanks for sharing that! Always nice to have alternatives. I would never have guessed the meaning of piel chinita.

      I did a quick search and 'piel chinita' (as well as 'piel de gallina') can also mean:

      - it makes my skin crawl
      - make your hair stand on end
      - make your hair stand up on the back of your neck

      I found that definition here:


      And googling images of either of those two terms will confirm those meanings.

  2. I also heard piel chinita for goosebumps

  3. no te rajes = dont be a chicken is another expression heard in mexico

  4. Keep up the good work love reading your blog and I also have your app.