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What's a "Cabrón"?
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Dear Mexican: I work at a Mexican restaurant where the majority of the workers are, you guessed it, Mexican. I hear the word cabrón all the time, but each time I ask what exactly it means, no one has a definitive answer. I’d like to think that they’re not bullshitting me, and that it doesn’t exactly translate well. Is it really that hard to explain, or are they just making fun of my whiteness? Help a güero out.


Dear Gabacho: There is a literal definition to cabrón—“male goat.” But even the Real Academia Española doesn’t care much for that that meaning, relegating the ruminant to the sixth slot in the word’s dictionary listing. Above that definition are others for most Latinos know the word: “said of a person, of an animal, or of a thing: That does bad things or is annoying,” “said of a man: That he suffers from his wife’s infidelity, and especially if he consents,” and more. Mexicans get the fifth tense—“Said of a person: of bad character”—but, as usual, Castilians don’t know shit about Mexicans. You don’t want to call a stranger in Mexico a cabrón, because it means “asshole” in that context. But among friends, cabrón is used as a form of respect (“Él es cabrón”—he’s a badass), as a meme (go find the one of an old paisa in a tejana smoking with the legend “No pos…ta cabrón,” which chipsters use when they’re wowed by something). If your Mexican coworkers call you that, take it as a form of respect—at least they’re not calling you “Trump,” amiright?


I was wondering why no one really talks about Mater Dei High School fucking up Santa Ana for all the Mexicans? I mean, we can’t cruise anymore? I went to high school there, and now I’m at Columbia University. While I was at Mater Dei, no one, including the lucky Chicano students from the neighborhood who went there, made a fuss about expansion and gentrification, and not only around that nasty sore thumb of a campus, but around Santa Ana’s downtown, too. I mean, I guess I’m as guilty as the next mexicano. I lived most of my life a block from Memorial Park. Here at Columbia, Harlem residents are doing something, and some student “allies” are helping out. Serious, güey: why don’t Mexicans make more noise about their dying, gentrifying community?



Dear Pocha: For my non-Orange County readers: Mater Dei is the largest Catholic high school west of the Mississippi, an athletic powerhouse that also was one of the largest pedophile priest-and-coach factories in the nation, a fact alumni always try to forget (I don’t, since its legendary boys basketball coach, Gary McKnight, once threatened to sue me because he didn’t like my coverage of his dealings with an assistant who molested students). Mater Dei is in Santa Ana (pronounced and spelled “SanTana” by the natives), a muy-Mexican city that has seen mucho gentrification over the past decade. Chicano activists across the country are fighting gentrification in their barrios (shoutout to Defend Boyle Heights!), but let’s turn this on the gentrifiers. Gentrifiers: where y’all at in the fight against deportations? You’ve only had like 25 years to join, but I guess ustedes would rather toast your good life with another Modern Times Oneida—CHAVALAS!!!


Ask the Mexican at [email protected], be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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  1. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Senor Garellano,

    Is it true that Mexicans call each other ‘negro’?

  2. A cabron equivalent in the US is a cuckold.

    A cuckold is the husband of an adulterous wife.

    Many long-term cuckolds in the US are queer.

  3. “Chicano activists across the country are fighting gentrification in their barrios”

    Using East LA gang bangers to do so? [fight gentrification]

  4. Gustavo Arellano is the personification of the pejorative cabrón.

  5. VICB3 says:

    Let’s simplify things:

    Cabrón is used by one illegal asshole calling illegal another asshole an asshole.

    Now, isn’t that easy?

    Just a thought.


  6. Cabrón is slightly less of an insult than puñal.

  7. revjen45 says:

    OK, now how about pendejo? I get the impression that it is a generic insult similar to cabron. BTW, the insult I like best in Spanish is baboso.

  8. Tony says:

    Hey Arellano, you always got a put in a snide remark on Trump huh. Accept The Donald as your commander in chief. You got no other choice.

  9. Insults!
    The worst insult ever was ‘Americano’ because Americans can be told apart from the rest of the world because they are haters. Americanos, especially the Texass variety, even hate each other as well as themselves.

  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Santa Ana has been a 4th-world hellhole for about the last decade. I didn’t think it was possible to gentrify, but the arithmetic means it will inevitably come under FIRE. But in 2017? I thought “the economy was so bad, the Mexicans had stopped coming”–haha

    Boyle Heights is already a lost cause; not even “Chicanos” are aware of it, except maybe the ones who went to fancy private college. Your boy Tony Villar actually did a thorough job of yuppifying downtown… No sane person would live there by choice, though

  11. anon • Disclaimer says:

    The truth is most of the development in Santa Ana is the Vietnamese side next to Westminster and Fountain Valley. Lots of new homes being built there. I figure if about 20,000 Mexicans leave Santa Ana if Trump cracks down on employers or deports some that Santa Ana will go more Vietnamese since they are less illegal immigrants than Mexicans and Central Americans are. Anaheim is more likely to be gentrified more in the future since its population is more mixed and the current council is slowing down the hotel growth which means less Mexicans and Central Americans will come to Anaheim.

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