The secret nickname that Spanish people have for British tourists – and it’s not flattering
Revealed: The secret nickname that Spanish people have for British tourists – and it’s not flattering
Britons travelling in Spain might overhear the word ‘guiri’ and be at a loss as to what it means.
It turns out there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that guiri – pronounced ‘gi-ri’ – is a pejorative slang word for foreigners from Britain and other parts of northern Europe. And not one often said to their faces.
Marta Fernandez, who runs the Spanish language tutorial service ‘Spanitish’, shared a TikTok video with her 87,200 followers about the meaning behind the word, noting that it refers ‘to uncouth foreign tourists, particularly from Great Britain’.
Backing up this negative connotation, Urban Dictionary says that it’s a ‘somewhat pejorative term for a foreigner, usually a tourist, who happens to be in Spain and stands out as being pretty obviously not a local’.
The word ‘guiri’ is used by Spaniards to describe tourists or foreigners – but it can sometimes have a negative connotation
It adds that the term is ‘usually used to refer to fairer-skinned people from the likes of Great Britain or Germany’.
Leah Pattem, a British-Indian journalist based in Madrid, says that a person that’s being called a ‘guiri’ can be ‘categorised as naive and/or ignorant, trapped in their own culture due to refusal or inability to integrate’.
The good news is that it can also be a term of endearment.
Spanish news site The Local notes that in reporting the death of Michael Robinson, a British former footballer who spent decades living in Spain, newspapers declared him ‘el guiri mas querido de Espana’, which translates to ‘the most loved foreigner in Spain’.
A graffitied gate in Palma, Majorca, spells out the words ‘eat the guiri’
It’s believed the word originated during the Carlist Wars, a series of 19th-century civil wars in Spain, Spanish news site El Pais reveals. Carlists, the supporters of Infante Carlos, son of King Charles IV of Spain, used the term ‘guiris’ to describe their rivals, supporters of Queen Maria Cristina de Borbon.
‘Guiri’ is similar to the word ‘gringo’, which is used in Latin American countries to describe a foreigner.
Other slang words for Britons used abroad include the derogatory words ‘limey’, predominantly used by Americans, and ‘pommy’, typically used by Australians.