Spanish/Common False Cognates

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The phenomenon known as “false friends” happens between two languages, like Spanish and English, when there are two words sounding very similar because they come from the same root but their meaning is completely different. There are many “false friends” involving English and Spanish. Here you have some examples (but you can add more, so as to make up a full list):

Spanish False friend (en) Spanish False friend (en)
Abismal

Enormous

Abysmal

Pésimo

Actual

Current

Actual

Real or Verdadero

Alcoba

Bedroom

Alcove

Nicho

Asistir

To attend

To assist

Atender or Ayudar

Atender

To assist

To attend

Asistir

Balón

Ball

Balloon

Globo

Bizarro

Brave

Bizarre

Extraño

Blanco

White

Blank

Vacío

Blando

Soft or Gentle

Bland

Insípido

Boda

Wedding

Body

Cuerpo

Campo

Field or Countryside

Camp

Campamento

Cara

Face

Car

Coche or Carro

Carpeta

Folder

Carpet

Alfombra

Chillar

To shriek

To chill

Enfriar

Complexión

Physical build

Skin complexion

Tez or Cutis

Comprensivo

Understanding or Tolerant

Comprehensive

Exhaustivo or Completo

Constipado

Having a cold

Constipated

Estreñido

Construir

To build

To construe

Interpretar

Costumbre

Habit

Costume

Traje

Disgusto

Displeasure or Misfortune

Disgust

Asco or Repugnancia

Embarazada

Pregnant

Embarrassed

Avergonzada

Éxito

Success

Exit

Salida

Fábrica

Factory

Fabric

Tejido

Globo

Balloon

Glove

Guante

Inhabitable

Uninhabitable

Inhabitable

Habitable

Injuria

Insult

Injury

Lesión

Librería

Bookshop

Library

Biblioteca

Mano

Hand

Man

Hombre

Molestar

To annoy

To molest

Agredir

Moroso

Debtor

Morose

Malhumorado

Nombre

Name

Number

Número

Pariente

Relative

Parents

Padres

Periódico

Newspaper

Periodical

Revista

Preservativo

Condom

Preservative

Conservante

Profesor (at any level)

Teacher

Professor

Catedrático (at University)

Recipiente

Container

Recipient

Destinatario

Recordar

To remember or To remind

To record

Anotar (writing), or Grabar (on tape).

Refrán

Saying

Refrain

Estribillo

Regalo

Gift

Regal

Majestuoso

Remover

Stir

Remove

Eliminar

Retirado

Withdrawn

Retired

Jubilado

Ropa

Clothing

Rope

Cuerda

Resumir

To summarise

To resume

Reanudar

Sanidad

Health

Sanity

Cordura

Sensible

Sensitive

Sensible

Sensato

Silla

Chair

Sill

Alféizar

Sopa

Soup

Soap

Jabón

Suave

Soft or Smooth

Suave

Afable

Vicioso

Addict or depraved

Vicious

Salvaje

Vacunar

To vaccinate

To vacuum

Aspirar