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Cojones (Spanish pronunciation: [koˈxones]) is a Spanish word for denoting courage when used in the phrase "tener cojones" (equivalent to English "have the balls to") or testicles. It is considered a curse word when used by itself as an expletive in Spanish. In English, as a loanword, it means courage, brazenness, "nerve" etc.

English usage[edit]

In US slang, cojones denotes “brazen, brave attitude”, pronounced /kəˈhnz/ and /kəˈhnəz/ in English. Contextually, its usage is like that of the Yiddish chutzpah (nerve), the Hebrew slang baitzim = balls (literally, eggs,) the Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian muda (balls), the French couilles (balls), the Italian palle and coglioni (balls) or fegato (lit. liver, meaning "guts" ), the Finnish munat (lit. eggs) and the Russian "стальные яйца" (steel balls). A common euphemistic misspelling of cojones could be cajones (furniture “drawers” and "wooden box drums", see cajón) or cojines ("cushions").

The first English-language text to contain the word cojones as a metaphor for bravery is Ernest Hemingway's 1932 book on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon. "It takes more cojones," he wrote, "to be a sportsman where death is a closer party to the game." '[1]

Spanish etymology and usages[edit]

Cojones (s. cojón [koˈxon]) and huevos (eggs) or bolas/pelotas (balls) are vulgar Spanish curse-word usages for testicles. Cataplines is a very common fussy euphemism of many euphemisms to refer to testicles (huevera, pitera, pelotillas, cojonera, colgajos, etc.). The singular form, cojón contains the augmentative suffix -ón (implying magnitude), and derives from the Vulgar Latin coleonem, the accusative form of coleo (testicle), an augmentative form of cōleus (leather bag for liquids); its variants are cūleus and culleus. The lej or lij pronunciation shift is common from Latin to Spanish, e.g. foliahoja (leaf), which is a cognate with the English word "foliage".

The exclamation ¡Qué cojones! is used to express pain, anger, excitement or irony, and is approximately synonymous with the interjection ¡coño! (vulva) expressing anger and surprise (used mainly by Dominicans, other Spanish cultures like Ecuador and Colombia find the word in very bad taste)[2] Analogues to the Spanish cojones exist in Galician collóns, Valencian and Catalan collons French couilles, Italian coglioni, Portuguese colhões, Romanian coaie, Leonese coyones, Dutch kloten, German Klöten, the Welsh ceillion, Esperanto kojonoj.



  1. ^ Weigel, David. "When did testicles become courageous? - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  2. ^ El pequeño Larousse ilustrado 1999 p.285

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