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The etymology is uncertain, but the most plausible source on the basis of both semantics and historical phonology appears to be unattested Vulgar Latin *c(h)araculum, which would have been a Latinized diminutive of Ancient Greek χάραξ ‎(khárax, stick), from χαρακτήρ ‎(kharaktḗr).

Another possibility is Late Latin cassus or its diminutive, carassus ‎(empty), eventually used to describe a crow's nest on a ship.

Certain cognates include Portuguese caralho, Galician carallo and Catalan carall. Attempts to attribute Italian same-meaning cazzo to the same etymon fail on phonological grounds, as the /r/ of carajo (or its absence in cazzo) remains unexplained, and no Latin phonological sequence develops as both /x/ in Spanish and /tts/ in Italian.


  • IPA(key): /kaˈɾaxo/
  • Hyphenation: ca‧ra‧jo


carajo m ‎(plural carajos)

  1. (Spain) penis
  2. (un carajo) shit (US), jackshit (US), sod all (UK), bugger all (UK)
    No me importa un carajo. — I don't give a fuck.
  3. (al carajo) hell
    ¡Vete al carajo!go to hell! bugger off!




  1. (South America, Northwestern Spain, vulgar) shit!
  2. (slang, vulgar) used as an intensifier, similar to the fuck
    ¿Qué carajo quieres? — What the fuck do you want?

Usage notes[edit]

This is considered to be a taboo word by many in South America and is replaced by the euphemistic forms caramba or carrizo depending on the context and in which country the term is used.