New Spanish words to add to your vocabulary

Spanish, like pretty much every language, is a living, breathing construct, ever expanding and adapting itself in response to the cultural and pragmatic needs and realities of its speakers.

The RAE (Real Academia Española, if you hadn’t heard) is an institution that prides itself on being the formal linguistic regulator for the Spanish-speaking world, with the DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia Española), its official dictionary, functioning as a universal reference document for Spanish-language jargon across the globe.

This sprawling behemoth of a book contains hundreds of thousands of definitions, meanings, and exceptions for words: old, new, European, Latin American, or even words (such as some of those listed below) that are foreign to Spanish in their origins.

It is not uncommon for the Real Academia to come under fire for being a bit on the conservative side of things, especially when it comes to approving and adopting new idioms derived from Anglo terms or words coming from internet culture, reasons for which there are frequent clashes between zoomer Spanish speakers and the RAE.

The former accuse the institution of being nearsighted and oblivious to the current realities of Spanish-speaking youth, portraying the Academia as archaic and rigid, with the latter often failing to offer a satisfactory response to these claims.

Still, the times are a-changing, and these institutions need to be quick on their toes if they want to keep pace with the free-flowing evolution of day-to-day conversational vocabulary of 2022.

Here are some of the freshest entries in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española’s latest revision.


In this post-internet age, it is quite clear what it means to “troll” someone online, to be a little bit on the mischievous side of things and goof around at some poor sucker’s expense, even if that means being somewhat toxic when it comes to your online demeanor.

As in the Anglo world, Spanish internet communities have more than their fair share of online trolls, or “trols,” as they would more likely spell it. So the Real Academia decided to drop the extra L and make it official.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


m. y f. En foros de Internet y redes sociales, usuario que publica mensajes provocativos, ofensivos o fuera de lugar con el fin de molestar, llamar la atención o boicotear la conversación.”


Sometimes we simply do not care. At all. Not one bit.

In certain regions, that attitude is most often accompanied by the ever-present and vulgar battle cry that is “Me vale madre.” That is what valemadrismo is all about.

This colorful and brand-new noun describes a strong passivity, indifference, and disinterest regarding the situation at hand, preferring to let things come as they may and not to interfere at all.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


De la expr. coloq. valer madre[s] ‘no importar nada’ e -ismo.

1. m. coloq. Hond., Méx. y Nic. Actitud de indiferencia, desinterés o pasividad.”


We all experienced the rise of e-learning and virtual classrooms during the peak of the pandemic, with countless platforms and services quickly adapting themselves to the digital-first approach that became the norm for educational institutions the world over.

Even though it’s not a particularly new concept, webinars have risen to greater prominence in the past couple of years – so much so that the RAE decided to make the word official in its Spanish spelling.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


Adapt. del ingl. webinar, y este fusión de web ‘web’ y seminar ‘seminario’.

1. m. seminario web.”


Most English speakers will attest to understanding the concept of gentrification, with a good percentage of them even witnessing firsthand the upscaling of deteriorated urban areas for more affluent patrons and inhabitants.

While this concept is by no means original to the English-speaking world, the word used to describe this process is.

Love it or hate it, gentrification is a pressing issue in cities the world over, and – as of December 2021 – the DRAE included the neologism among its pages.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


f. Urb. Proceso de renovación de una zona urbana, generalmente popular o deteriorada, que implica el desplazamiento de su población original por parte de otra de un mayor poder adquisitivo.”


“Mwah” in English.

Smack” in French.

Chuac” in Portuguese.

Kissing onomatopoeias abound in cultures and languages both very near and far away, and Spanish – being the romantic language that it is – could not be the exception.

Mua” (and now “muac,” too) is how they “sound out” a kiss in Spanish. The former spelling of the word (“mua”) is still valid and very much in use, yet version 2.0 of the onomatopoeia “muac” has gained considerable traction through the years, with the DRAE finally bowing and accepting it as a valid new word.

Now you know a more affectionate alternative to “xoxo” to end your friendliest of emails.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


onomat. mua.”


The pandemic really reshaped everything for everyone, and language is no exception. Throughout Latin America’s healthcare provider community, the term “hisopado” means the process of gathering medical samples to be analyzed for diseases, such as Covid-19.

The word stems from the Spanish word “hisopo,” which means a cotton swab, an item commonly used to extract lab samples from medical patients.

Although “hisopado” can be heard in continental Spain, this idiom is much more common in LatAm, so try to keep this in mind if you are planning a trip abroad.

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


1. m. Med. Arg., Bol., Ec., Méx., Nic., Par., P. Rico, R. Dom., Ur. y Ven. Prueba consistente en tomar una muestra biológica de una parte del cuerpo, especialmente de la región bucal o nasofaríngea, con un hisopo sanitario, principalmente para la detección de infecciones; p. ej., por coronavirus.”


E-cigarettes have exploded in popularity throughout the last few years, with several countries reporting more vape smokers than cigarette smokers. Vaping is a big deal for Gen Z, with the verb “vapear” being added to the Diccionario in its latest edition.

As in many of the neologisms portrayed in this article, “vapear” is an Anglicism, an English word borrowed by another language – in this case, the verb “to vape.”

This is the DRAE’s definition of the word


Del ingl. to vape, der. de vapour ‘vapor’, y -ear.

1. intr. Aspirar y despedir, en sustitución del tabaco, el vapor aromatizado que genera un dispositivo electrónico. U. menos c. tr.”


This word doesn’t seem new at all, does it? Well, that is because it is not… technically.

Hablar” – meaning “to speak” – is one of the most used verbs in the Spanish language, and typically also one of the first verbs taught to students learning basic Spanish.

However, “hablar” has a new meaning now, as made official by La Real Academia, which is to communicate with another in written form by making use of current digital technologies, akin to texting and/or chatting.

Even if the use of “hablar” in place of “textear” (which means “to text”) has been colloquially commonplace for years now, this use of the word was validated only in the Diccionario’s latest revision (December 2021).

This is the DRAE’s updated meaning of the word


Comunicarse con alguien por escrito haciendo uso de las tecnologías digitales.”

So, is the Real Academia getting an update, then?

Well… not exactly.

A good bit of progress has been made – and gets improved each passing year – by the RAE with regard to making the Diccionario a representation of the way Spanish speakers realistically write, talk, and otherwise communicate in all walks of life.

However, the road ahead is long and rough for this cause. An age-old institution such as La Real Academia Española is quite set in its ways, with little drive for change.

Is the RAE useless? Absolutely and categorically not.

The Academia does a wonderful, grade-A job at categorizing and defining the historical and archival status of the Spanish language, providing us with a great reference for the learning and preservation of its mother tongue, with trouble seeming to arise only when it comes to updating the current state of things to reflect the present realities of its speakers.

Whether it tries to match the rapid-fire chit-chat of hectic urban environments or act as a guide to disparate regional idioms within the same Spanish language, the DRAE tries its best to keep up with the evolution of Spanish.

It’s a never-ending tale, which, slowly but surely, progresses through time and culture, with languages mixing, morphing, and evolving with people along the way.

We are happy to help you navigate all the words you need in order to reach the conversational level you’ve been seeking. As a gift, we offer a free trial to all, so you can learn Spanish in record time. It’s easy if you really want it.

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