warningsign macho → machote - Sufijos aumentativos

While the diminutives tend to be used to show affection, lesser intensity or smaller size, the augmentative suffixes are used to express greater size, intensity, or other attribute. When the size is considered to be excessive in some way, the augmentatives may also be pejorative, e.g. cuarentón.

Here we discuss the three most commonly used augmentatives in Spain: -ón/ona, -azo/aza & -ote/ota.


1) When applied to inanimate nouns, the suffix -ón/ona  generally refers to size, importance or quality. Many of these nouns have taken on a meaning of their own and appear in modern dictionaries, while others are sometimes inferred from the meaning of the root word. Regardless of the gender of the original word, the augmentive is masculine.5

-Una taza → Un tazón — A bowl/large cup [size]

-Una silla → Un sillón — An armchair [size and type]

-Una casa → Un caserón — A large house [large and possibly ramshackled]

-Un jarro → Un jarrón — A vase [size and type]

-Una cuchara → Un cucharón — A ladle [size and function]


-Una película → Un peliculón — A great film /blockbuster [high degree of quality or large production]
-Un papel → Un papelón [A great/fantastic/outstanding performance (possibly in a negative sense)]
-Un problema → Un problemón [A big/serious problem]

-Una noticia → Un notición [Very important or serious news]

-Qué nivel → Qué nivelón [A really high level of quality or prestige]


When applied to people's attributes, it tends to be slightly pejorative or teasing, denoting a negative tendency or an excessive degree of something.

"[...] muchos de los adjetivos de persona derivados en ón/-ona no denotan propiamente menosprecio, sino más bien crítica amable, ironía o censura benevolente [...]"2


-Un solterón — A confirmed bachelor [Soltero ya entrado en años]

-María es una cuarentona — María is well into her forties [Entre 40 y 50; ya no es joven]

-Es simplón — He's a simple soul / gullible [Que se comporta con ingenuidad]

-Es tristona — She's given to melancholy [Algo triste o inclinado a estarlo]

-Es grandón — He's solidly-built [Muy crecido para su edad]

-Es dulzón — It's sickly-sweet [Demasiado dulce o empalagoso]


The suffix -ón/ona is frequently used to talk about large body parts.3

-Barrigón —Potbellied / tubby

-Cabezón — Bigheaded /pigheaded


Although strictly speaking they are not considered augmentatives, nouns originating from verbs are very similar, denoting a person's tendency to do something to a large or excessive degree. These tend to be negative qualities, although there are some exceptions, e.g. juguetón.1

-Mirón — Peeping Tom/ nosy parker  [Persona que mira excesivamente o es dada a ello]

-Criticón —  Gossip/faultfinder [Persona que critica excesivamente o es dada a ello]

-Dormilón — Sleepyhead [Persona que tiende a dormir mucho]

-Abusón  Bully/selfish person [Persona que tiende a abusar de su autoridad o fuerza]

-Protestón — Moaner/whinger/complainer [Persona que protesta excesivamente, a menudo por cosas sin importancia]

-Contestón — Always answering back/lippy [Persona que contesta o replica demasiado y de malos modos]

-Bailón [Aficionado al baile, baila mucho]

-Juguetón [Juega mucho, le gusta jugar]

-Ligón [Liga mucho, es dado a ligar]

-Besucón [Da muchos besos]

-Faltón, comilón, llorón, etc.


2) The suffix -azo/aza is generally only used with nouns to denote a high level or quality, size or intensity. It tends to have positive connotations, i.e. praising or approving of the extreme degree. In these cases it can often be translated as 'a heck of a+noun'. However, in some cases it is pejorative.6

-Un cochazo — A heck of a car [Grande o lujoso]

-Exitazo — A smash hit

-Articulazo — A heck of an article

-Un golazo — A screamer of a goal

-¡Tiene una pintaza! — It looks bloody incredible!

-¡Qué pelazo tiene esa mujer! — What an amazing head of hair she has!


-Es un bocazas  He's a bigmouth [Speaks too much]

-Hace un calorazo — It's boiling hot [Excessively hot]

-Jefazo — The bigwig / the big cheese [More important or more severe than just 'jefe']


The other main use of the suffix -azo/aza is to denote the striking or firing of an object. Many of these appear in the dictionary, but often they can be made up by adding the suffix to the object doing the hitting, e.g. paraguas → paraguazo.

-Un cañonazo — Canonfire

-Un hachazo — A blow with an axe

-Un pelotazo — The striking/blow of a ball (also a get-rich-quick scheme read more)

-Un manotazo — A slap/smack

-Un paraguazo — A smack with an umbrella

-Un balazo — A gunshot/bullet wound 


Sometimes words formed with the suffix -azo have a slightly different meaning.7

-un encuentro → un encontronazo — a run-in/clash

-una esquina → (dar) esquinazo — to shake sb off

-una carpeta → (dar) carpetazo — to shelve [Read more]


3) The suffix -ote/ota is harder to translate. The connotations vary depending on the word being modified, but in general is used ironically or slightly pejoratively to imply that something is excessive or exaggerated.7

"El sufijo '-ote/-ota' aúna a menudo el significado aumentativo al despectivo. Así en 'Descendió del carro se puso su sombrerote cuajado de parrería de plata' (Fuentes, Gringo) se alude a cierto sombrero presentándolo implícitamente como grande y feo".7


-Chicote — A big chap  [Persona de poca edad, robusta y bien formada]

-Amigote — Mate/buddy/sidekick [Compañero de diversiones]

-Grandote — Big/huge [Persona grande/gorda]

-Machote — Tough guy  [Muy masculino; con rasgos de macho]

-Sanote — A health buff [Una persona muy sana, que se interesa por su salud]


penciliconEjercicios | Ponte a prueba

This content is only available to subscribers. Please log in or sign up free to use all the features. (Existing members, go to Mi Cuenta to upgrade)

In Español-Avanzado Articles

-Machismo acordado

-A bastonazos

-sufijos aumentativos -ón / -azo / -ote-