While we love dissecting Spanish expressions over here (check out our vale, no pasa nada, and buen provecho posts to see a few), there are some that just don’t make sense when you translate them to English and me cago en [insert object/person here] is one that is really hard for me to wrap my head around. If you see (or hear) someone say this, you can usually tell they are upset about something, but this frustration/anger is definitely an interpretation of the tone of voice and facial expression instead of the direct translation of this idiom… so, let’s us dive into this typical Spanish expression.
Rough English Translation: I poop on/in
While this might seem like the most absurd thing to say, me cago en… literally means “I poop on/in…” And the thing/person/place/phrase that is usually inserted after can range from la leche (the milk) to tu madre (your mother) or even todo (everything). Now, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would go around saying that they are pooping on different things/people, but it is a really popular way of expressing one’s feelings when they are not happy.
How it is used:
I would say that this expression is mostly used by younger generations and you can imagine how it can be a negative expression and interpreted as being very offensive. Some of the most frequent combinations are:
Me cago en la leche (in the milk)
Me cago en la puta (on the whore)
Me cago en tu [puta] madre (on your [f***ing] mother)
Me cago en dios (god)
Me cago en diez (a more polite version of the previous insult)
Me cago en todo (everything)
Me cago en tus muertos (your forefathers)
Although this expression might seem very intense to those of us who aren’t used to it, I hear it used on a pretty regular basis, occasionally referring to things that don’t actually seem to be such a big deal to me. So, while it can be very offensive—I am quite quick to correct people when they try to say something about my mother—it is also used when things just don’t seem to be going your way.
Two examples in context
Imagine that you are playing soccer or some other sport and, when you least expect it, someone stamps on your foot (even accidentally). In that moment when you are in quite a lot of physical pain, it is not unusual for you to cagar en… something. As this is a relatively mild situation, perhaps the milk suffices.
On the other hand, imagine you are taking a trip for the weekend and you have to catch a flight at 11 am and your brother told you he’d take you. You’ve agreed to leave at a set time but, between traffic, getting gas, and a flat tire, you make it to the airport five minutes late. If you were to, at this point, cagar en todo (or even something a bit ‘stronger’), no one would probably blame you.
Note: People don’t actually go around pooping on things, so please don’t take this expression literally.
My personal advice:
In the seven(ish) years that I have lived in Spain, this expression has started finding little ways into my life, even if I don’t really like it—if you spend a lot of time with Spaniards, it is almost bound to come up. That being said, please be careful with how you use it because it can be really offensive and if you don’t know how the other person will react, it is better not to say anything.
Let us know if you have any questions!