Discover a New You in the New Year with 44% off Mango! ​       LEARN MORE>

What is an augmentative in Spanish?

A street with colorful decorations.

Augmentative endings like -ón in cabezón [big head] or -azo in portazo [door slam] are added to some nouns, adjectives, or verbs, creating new nouns and adjectives, to convey that the reality expressed by the word is bigger, has greater intensity, and sometimes has positive or negative overtones. Very often, they replace grande or gran [big/large]. For instance, to express that a car is big we could say un coche grande or un cochazo. Ready to dive in?

Table of Contents

What are the Spanish augmentative endings?

Let’s begin by going over the augmentative endings in Spanish:

EndingExampleTranslation
-ón/acabeza → cabezónhead → big head
-ote/acasa → casotahouse → big house
-etón/etónagolpe → golpetónblow → big blow
-azoplan → planazo plan → great plan
-etazopuño → puñetazofist → punch
-ucho/aflaco → flacuchoskinny → very skinny
-acho/arico → ricachorich → very rich
-acolibro → libracobook → big book
-achón/-achonarico → ricachonarich → very rich
IMPORTANT

Some augmentative endings have two versions: a masculine ending in -o and a feminine ending in -a.

These endings are used to match the gender of the noun they are attached to:

  • La sillasillaza

chair → big chair

  • El pelopelazo
hair → beautiful abundant hair
These endings are also attached to adjectives so they match the gender of the noun they are describing:
  • dulce → el pastel dulzón

sweet, very sweet pie

  • dulce → la sopa dulzona
sweet, very sweet soup
Need a refresher on how Spanish adjectives match nouns in gender and number? Don’t remember how to tell the gender of Spanish nouns? Don’t worry, we got you covered!

Next, we’ll see how augmentative endings are added to words.

How to build Spanish augmentatives?

We learned earlier that augmentative endings are attached to Spanish nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Here’s how they are built:

  • For words ending in a consonant, attach the ending directly to the word.
    • Take, for instance, the word plan [plan] and the augmentative ending azo.
    • Since the word ends in a consonant, the ending is simply added to the word to form planazo [big/important plan].
  • For words ending in a vowel, drop the vowel before adding the ending.
    • For example, a word like coche [car] and the augmentative ending azo.

The final -e in coche, is dropped before attaching the augmentative ending to form cochazo [big car].

IMPORTANT

Augmentative endings can create new nouns and adjectives, but not new verbs. Some augmentative endings can change an adjective into a noun, a noun into an adjective, or a verb into an adjective or noun. What a transformation! For example:

  • Adjective → noun: rico [rich] → ricachón [rich person]
  • Noun → adjective: cabeza [head]  → cabezón [big headed, stubborn].
  • Verb → adjective or noun: llorar [to cry] →  llorón [cry-baby] and criticar [to criticize] →  criticón [nitpicker].

How are augmentatives used?

Augmentative endings are added to words mainly to express size — they indicate that something is bigger or is done with greater intensity. For instance:
  • The words bigote or mostacho [mustache] and their augmented variants bigotón and mostachón [big mustache] simply differ in the size of the concept to which they refer.
  • The augmented words golpazo or golpetazo [big blow] refer to the same concept as its non-augmented variant golpe [blow], but with greater intensity.
Augmentative endings, on top of referring to size or greater intensity, can also take negative or positive overtones. For instance: 
  • The word libro [book] has a couple of augmented variants, libraco and librote. In these cases, the augmentative endings are used to express size or length, and also, depending on context, to describe a book as dull and boring. 
  • On the other hand, the word fortachón (from the adjective fuerte [strong]) describes a very strong man in a positive way.
IMPORTANT
Sometimes, the addition of an augmentative ending creates a whole new word with a different meaning. For instance, cinturón does not refer to a big cintura [waist], but a belt. See a complete list here.

Next, we’ll see the different types of augmentative endings, their uses, and to what kinds of words they are attached.

Augmentative endings

IMPORTANT
There is no way to predict  if an augmentative ending will be attached to any particular word, and which values (augmentative, positive, or negative) the augmented word could have. To verify that you’re using the right augmentative, keep your dictionary handy!

-ón/a, -etón/-etona

The endings -ón and -etón are attached to some masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives, as well as verbs, producing masculine augmentatives; whereas -ona and -etona can be attached to some feminine nouns and adjectives, as well as verbs, creating feminine augmentatives.

On top of their augmentative meaning, these endings also add some affective (positive and negative) overtones. For instance:

  • The augmented noun peliculón (from película [film]) refers to a great movie:

Ponen un peliculón en la tele esta noche.
There’s a great movie on TV tonight.

Notice how, incidentally, the gender has changed: película is feminine, whereas peliculón is masculine.

  • The adjectives dulzón/dulzona (from the adjective dulce [sweet]) describe something excessively sweet:

El flan te ha salido dulzón.
The flan came out too sweet.

  • The pejorative adjectives llorón/llorona [crybaby] are derived from the verb llorar [to cry]:

No aguanta las críticas, es un llorón.
He can’t take criticism, he’s a crybaby.

Exception!
  • The word solterón/a [unmarried man/spinster] (from soltero/a [old bachelor/unmarried woman]) does not refer to size or intensity, but it has a pejorative connotation of an older man or woman who isn’t married.

  • These endings can be added to some negative adjectives to soften their meaning. For instance, the word tristón [a bit sad] has its meaning softened from the original triste [sad].

-ote/a

The ending –ote is attached to some masculine nouns and adjectives. Similarly, -ota is attached to some feminine nouns and adjectives.

On top of their augmentative meaning, these endings also add some affective (positive and negative) overtones. For instance:

  • The adjective guapote [very handsome] is derived from guapo [handsome]:

Mis nuevos vecinos tienen un bebé guapote.
My new neighbors have a very handsome baby.

  • The noun librote (from libro [book]) refers to a big book that is also dull and boring:

Tengo dos librotes que leer para mi clase de literatura.
I had two big dull books to read for my literature class.

-azo, -etazo

These endings are attached to some masculine nouns.

They add an augmentative meaning, often with positive overtones. For instance:

  • The word for “success” is éxito. We could describe “a big success” with exitazo:

Luis Miguel tuvo un exitazo tremendo en su última gira en España.
Luis Miguel had huge tremendous success on his last Spanish tour.

  • The words cochazo and carrazo (from coche or carro [car]) refer to a big, luxurious car. Similarly, to refer to a big, luxurious hotel we can use hotelazo:

Ganó la lotería, se compró un carrazo y se fue a vivir a un hotelazo.
She won the lottery, bought a big, luxurious car, and moved to a big, luxurious hotel.

Exception!
This ending can have a non-augmentative use when attached to a word referring to a body part/object to express a blow. For instance:
  • Codazo [blow with the elbow], from codo [elbow]:
    Le dio un codazo para despertarla cuando acabó la película.
    When the movie ended, he nudged her to wake her up.
  • Mazazo [blow with a mallet], from mazo [mallet]:
    Tiró la pared a base de mazazos.
    He knocked down the wall by hitting it with a mallet.
  • Pelotazo [blow with a ball], from pelota [ball]:
    Le dieron un pelotazo a la ventana de Doña María.
    They broke Mrs. María’s window with a ball.

-ucho/a, -acho/a, -aco

These endings can be attached to some nouns and adjectives.

On top of their augmentative meaning, these endings add some pejorative overtones. For instance:

  • The noun pajarraco (from pájaro [bird]) refers to a big, ugly bird:
    ¡Qué pena! Un pajarraco tan feo en un árbol tan bonito.
    What a shame! Look at that ugly bird on such a lovely tree.
  • The adjective larguirucho (from largo [long]) refers to someone who’s very tall and lanky:
    Juan es inconfundible, es calvo y larguirucho.
    You can’t miss Juan, he’s bald and lanky.
  • The adjective ricacho (from rico [rich]) refers to someone who’s extremely rich:

    Subió mucho de precio desde que los ricachos veranean aquí.
    It got too expensive since the rich decided to vacation here.

-achón/-achona

The ending -achón is attached to some adjectives, whereas –achona is attached to some feminine adjectives.

Besides their augmentative meaning, these endings add some affective overtones. For instance:

  • The word bonachón/a (from bueno [good]) refers to a very good person:
    Es un bonachón, nunca se enfada y siempre ayuda a los demás.
    He’s a really nice guy, never gets mad, and always helps out others.
  • The word ricachón/a (from rico [rich]), a variant from ricacho above, refers to someone who’s extremely rich:
    Subió mucho de precio desde que los ricachones veranean aquí.
    It got too expensive since the rich decided to vacation here.

Curious to know what endings you can use to make something smaller in Spanish? Don’t miss out on our post on Spanish diminutives!

Are you interested in learning more about Spanish Grammar? Check out our Spanish Grammar Homepage.

Summary

Augmentative endings in Spanish are added to nouns, adjectives, and verbs:
  • If the word ends in a consonant, add the augmentative ending to the word without any changes.
  • If the word ends in a vowel, drop it, then add the augmentative ending.
They convey three different kinds of meanings to a word:
  • Augmentative: expresses a larger size or more intensity.
  • Pejorative: adds a negative overtone to a word.
  • Positive: adds a positive connotation to a word.
Ready to practice? Check out this activity (answer key included!)
Meet The Author:
Author - ML LOGO
Mango Languages
Language is an Adventure

To embark on your next language adventure, join the Mango fam!

Extra Resources:

Augmentatives table

Activities:

Augmentatives activity

Activities:

Augmentatives activity

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We’d also like to set analytics cookies that help us make improvements by measuring how you use the site. These will be set only if you accept.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We’d like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work please see our ‘Cookies page’.

Skip to content