Parts of the Body in Spanish

Spanish for Beginners

Fingers on a harp
Los dedos tocan el arpa. (Fingers play the harp.). Daniela Vladimirova/Creative Commons.

Learning the Spanish names for body parts is a quick way to learn some Spanish that is likely to be useful right away. Whether you're in a clothing store or a doctor's clinic, you'll find these words handy.

Vocabulary List: Body Parts in Spanish

Here are the Spanish words for common body parts:

  • Arm — el brazo
  • Back — la espalda
  • Backbone — la columna vertebral
  • Brain — el cerebro, el seso
  • Breast, chest — el pecho
  • Buttocks — las nalgas
  • Calf — la pantorrilla
  • Ear — el oído, la oreja
  • Elbow — el codo
  • Eye — el ojo
  • Finger — el dedo
  • Foot — el pie
  • Hair — el pelo
  • Hand — la mano (Mano is one of the very few and the most common of the Spanish nouns that are exceptions to the main gender rule of Spanish by being feminine even though ending in o.)
  • Head — la cabeza
  • Heart — el corazón
  • Hip — la cadera
  • Intestine — el intestino
  • Knee — la rodilla
  • Leg — la pierna
  • Liver — el hígado
  • Mouth — la boca
  • Muscle — el músculo
  • Neck — el cuello
  • Nose — la nariz
  • Shoulder — el hombro
  • Skin — la piel
  • Stomach (abdomen) — el vientre
  • Stomach (internal organ) — el estómago
  • Thigh — el muslo
  • Throat — la garganta
  • Toeel dedo (Note that dedo can refer to fighters or toes; it comes from the same Latin word from which we get "digit," which can also refer to fingers or toes. If you need to be more specific than dedo, you can use dedo de la mano for a finger and dedo del pie for a toe.)
  • Tongue — la lengua
  • Tooth — el diente, la muela

Most of these words are used for the body parts of animals as well as people. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, el hocico and el pescuezo are terms often used to refer to the nose and neck of animals.

Grammar of Body Parts

The names of body parts are used much the same as they are in Spanish as in English, but with one significant difference.

In Spanish, names of parts of the body are frequently preceded by the definite article (el, la, los or las, meaning "the") instead of possessive adjectives (such as mi for "my" and tu for "your"). In most cases, the possessive adjective is used only where the context doesn't make clear whose body is being referred to. For example:

  • ¡Abre los ojos! (Open your eyes!)
  • ¡Cierre la boca! (Shut your mouth!)
  • Él bajó la cabeza para orar. (He bowed his head to pray.)

The possessive adjective is used when needed to avoid ambiguity.

  • Me gustan tus ojos. (I like your eyes.)
  • Acerqué mi mano a su cabeza. (I moved my hand close to his head.)

Although English often omits the definite article when referring to body parts, they are usually retained in Spanish when a possessive adjective is not used.

  • Tengo el pelo negro. (I have black hair.)
  • Prefiero los ojos verdes. (I prefer green eyes.)

English Words Related to Spanish Names of Body Parts

Several of the Spanish words in the list above come from the same Latin root as English words that aren't used directly for body parts. You can use some of these connections to help you remember the words:

  • "To embrace," embrazar in Spanish, means literally to enclose someone or something with arms (brazos).
  • Something cerebral (related to cerebro) requires use of your brain.
  • You use the auditory (related to oído) capability of your ear to hear.
  • "Ocular" things are related to the eye (ojo).
  • Our word "gargantuan" comes from a fictional character who used his throat (garganta) by eating a lot.
  • To do something by hand (mano) is to do it manually.
  • Something that goes under your tongue (lengua) is sublingual. Also, both lengua and "tongue" can refer to a language.