Spanish Words That Start With Ñ: 37 Unique Words You Will Hear From Spanish People

Spanish Words That Start With Ñ: 37 Unique Words You Will Hear From Spanish People

One of the first things that a beginner Spanish language learner might be confused about is the presence in many words of what looks to be an “N” or “n” with a peculiar squiggly line over it.

This strange-looking N is actually another letter that is part of the Spanish alphabet. 

The letter Ñ is the 15th letter in the Spanish alphabet and there are about 15,700 Spanish words that use this letter. It was a letter that was invented by Spanish speakers as it isn’t part of the Latin alphabet. 

Ñ represents what is called a voiced palatal nasal, which is a type of consonant used in certain spoken languages. When you want to refer to Ñ, it is pronounced “eh-nyeh”, when you are using Ñ in a word, you pronounce it “ny”.

You may encounter many words that have Ñ in them, including a few words that start with Ñ. To help you learn about this particular Spanish letter, we’ve compiled a list of Spanish words that begin with Ñ for you to study.

1. Ño 

Pronunciation guide: nyoh

Meaning: Mr.

This is basically the shortened version of Señor. It is placed in front of the name of an older male. You are more likely to hear this when conversing with Spanish speakers in South America.

2. Ña 

Pronunciation guide: nyah

Meaning: Mrs.

Similar to the word above, this is the shortened version of a common form of address. In this case, it’s used in the place of Doña. Again, this is more commonly used in South America.

3. Ñaño

Pronunciation guide: nyah-nyoh

Meaning: Close Friend, Spoiled, Homosexual, Brother, Kid

This is another of those Spanish words that start with ñ that you are more likely to hear when traveling through the South American countries, and it can mean different things depending on where you are:

  • Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru – close friend
  • Colombia and Panama – spoiled child
  • Panama – homosexual
  • Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador – brother (the term for family member)
  • Peru - child

4. Ñoño 

Pronunciation guide: nyoh-nyoh

Meaning: Bland, Dull, Boring

This is one of those Spanish words that start with Ñ that is used as an adjective. You use it to refer to people, things, or situations that are uninteresting

5. Ñomblo

Pronunciation guide: nyohm-bloh

Meaning: Obese

This Spanish adjective is mostly used in Nicaragua. It’s the word they use to describe someone who is obese.

6. Ñato

Pronunciation guide: nyah-to 

Meaning: Pug-nosed

This is a Spanish adjective used mostly in Latin American countries to describe someone we would refer to as “pug-nosed”. Outside of Latin America, people with this feature are described as “chato”.

If you are in Uruguay, however, this word is used to mean a boxer or someone who participates in the sport of boxing. 

7. Ñongo

Pronunciation guide: nyoh-ngo

Meaning: Intrusive

If you want to talk about someone nosy or intrusive, who tends to get involved with other people’s business, you can use this Spanish word to describe them. This is most commonly used in Cuba.

8. Ñoñería

Pronunciation guide: nyoh-nyeh-ria

Meaning: Insipid

This is a Spanish word that is used to describe someone as dull or uninteresting. It can also be used to say that someone is “spineless”. 

9. Ñangotarse

Pronunciation guide: nyan-goh-tarseh

Meaning: Squat or crouch down

This Spanish verb is mostly used by speakers of the Caribbean Spanish dialect. It can also be used to describe someone who is discouraged or has “lost heart”. 

10. Ñáñara

Pronunciation guide: nyah-nyah-rah

Meaning: Laziness

If you are traveling in Honduras, you might encounter this Spanish word that starts with Ñ. This is what they say when they want to refer to the state of “laziness” or “pereza”.

11. Ñamería

Pronunciation guide: nyah-mer-ah

Meaning: Madness

If you are traveling in Panama, you could hear this Spanish word with an Ñ. It’s used the same way an English speaker would use “madness” to describe someone who was acting crazy or off. Other Spanish speakers might use “locura” instead.

12. Ñangué

Pronunciation guide: nyahng-ge

Meaning: Way back

This Spanish word is the equivalent of the English phrase “way back”. So, when someone who is talking about a time or an incident uses this, they are describing something that happened in the “distant past”.  

13. Ñeque

Pronunciation guide: nyeh-keh

Meaning: Strength or courage

This Spanish word is usually used to mean “strength” in Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. It can also mean courage or bravery in Bolivia, Peru, and Nicaragua as well as for Spanish-speakers in Venezuela and Ecuador. 

14. Ñafiar

Pronunciation guide: nyah-fyar

Meaning: Pilfer

This is a Spanish verb, mostly used in the Caribbean, that means to pilfer or take without permission. 

15. Ñique

Pronunciation guide: nyih-keh

Meaning: Headbutt

If you are traveling in Central American, you might hear this word used if someone is describing a fight. It can mean a headbutt or even a punch. 

16. Ñácara

Pronunciation guide: nyah-kara

Meaning: Ulcer or sore

This is a Spanish word that you’re more likely to hear in Central America. It refers to the medical condition of having an ulcer or a sore.

17. Ñangado

Pronunciation guide: nyahng-gado

Meaning: Bow-legged

This is a Spanish word that is mostly used in the Caribbean region to refer to someone who is bow-legged. 

18. Ñango

Pronunciation guide: nyah-ngo

Meaning: Wimpy 

This is a Mexican slang word used to describe someone, usually a man or boy, as weak in body and also weak-willed.  

It is also used in some Latin American countries to describe someone as being awkward or clumsy. 

19. Ñaque

Pronunciation guide: nyahke

Meaning: Junk

This is a Spanish word that can be used to describe something that is worthless or has been discarded as no longer useful.

20. Ñiquiñaque

Pronunciation guide: nyih-qwi-nyah-keh

Meaning: Worthless

This is used as another word for trash or junk, however, it can also be used as an insult to say that someone is a “worthless individual”.

21. Ñapa

Pronunciation guide: nyah-pah

Meaning: Freebie

This word that starts with a Ñ is mostly used in Latin America. It’s basically the equivalent of a “freebie” or something you got extra for no extra price. 

22. Ñangada

Pronunciation guide: nyahn-gadah

Meaning: Nip

This is a word that is mostly used in the Central American countries that means to take a nip or a small bit. 

23. Ñame

Pronunciation guide: nyah-meh

Meaning: Yam

This is the Spanish word for the root crop known in English as the yam.

24. Ñau

Pronunciation guide: nyaw

Meaning: Meow

In Latin American countries, the cat says this instead of “meow”. 

25. Ñauar

Pronunciation guide: nyaw-ar

Meaning: To meow

If you want to talk about the act of “meowing”, this is the Spanish verb for it. 

26. Ñandú

Pronunciation guide: nyahn-doo

Meaning: Rhea

This is a big flightless bird similar to an ostrich or an emu. You can find these in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Patagonia, and Uruguay. 

27. Ñu 

Pronunciation guide: nyoo

Meaning: Wildebeest, Gnu

This is the Spanish word for a species of antelope found in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

28. Ñorba

Pronunciation guide: nyohr-ba

Meaning: Passionflower

This is the Andean Spanish word for the flowering plant known as the passionflower. 

29. Ñandutí

Pronunciation guide: nyahn-du-tih

Meaning: Paraguayan lace

This is a handicraft from Paraguay which is created by using threads of cotton or silk to draw a pattern on a piece of fabric. The word is actually Guarani, which is an indigenous language in Paraguay that refers to a “spider web”. 

30. Ñapango

Pronunciation guide: nyah-pang-oh

Meaning: Mixed race

In Columbia, this is the Spanish word for “mulatto” or “mestizo” which are the terms used to refer to someone of mixed ancestry. 

31. Ñaca

Pronunciation guide: nyah-kah

Meaning: Ha or So, there

This word is used as an exclamation, to put some emphasis or feeling on a statement of triumph. It’s like saying “ha” or “so, there” in English after you were proven right or correct.

32. Ñaco

Pronunciation guide: nyah-koh

Meaning: Popcorn

This is what Mexican Spanish speakers call “popcorn”. 

33. Ñam

Pronunciation guide: nyahm

Meaning: Yum

In Spanish, this is an informal exclamation that you can use to say that something is tasty. Similar to English, it’s usually repeated so “ñam ñam” or “yum yum”.

34. Ñutir

Pronunciation guide: nyuh-tireh

Meaning: To grunt

In the Andean Spanish dialect, this is the verb that denotes the action of grunting. 

35. Ñangara

Pronunciation guide: nyahn-gara

Meaning: Guerrila

This is another of those Spanish words that start with Ñ that is more commonly used by speakers of Caribbean Spanish. It refers to “guerrilla fighters” who engage in guerrilla warfare. 

36. Ñoco

Pronunciation guide: nyoh-ko

Meaning: Lacking a finger

This is a Spanish adjective you might hear when traveling through Latin America. It is used to describe someone who has lost a finger.

37. Ñata

Pronunciation guide: nyah-ta

Meaning: Death

In the Andean Spanish dialect, this is the word for death. 

Conclusion

As you can see from the words we listed above, many of them are region or dialect-specific. This means that you might only hear them if you are traveling to a region where a particular Spanish dialect is spoken.

These regional differences are why it’s important to make sure that you do an online Spanish course or do online Spanish classes, to learn the differences in dialects.

Sure, most Spanish dialects are largely the same, you can probably make yourself understood quite well in Peru or Valenzuela even if you speak Peninsular Spanish. But, if you really want to communicate well, it’s something of an advantage to be familiar with the particular dialect of the region. That way, you can ensure that you can better follow along with daily conversations and not end up confused when running into one of these Spanish words that start with ñ.

If you're looking to start learning Spanish or expand your Spanish vocabulary, the Language learning app Babbel is a great place to start.

What words start with Ñ in Spanish?

Ño, Ña, Ñaño, Ñoño, Ñomblo, Ñato, Ñongo, Ñoñería, Ñangotarse, Ñáñara

What is the accent on Ñ called?

It's called an eñe and is pronounced enye.

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