Sunday, December 28, 2014

'Jueputa' Explained

Most people in the U.S. who have learned a little Spanish have likely picked up at least a few profanity gems. Most of us start with 'ca ca' and eventually work our way to 'puta', 'puto' or the beloved 'hijo de puta'. But, let's not get confused when we go a bit further south of the border.

My Colombian friend and I were discussing the phrase 'hijo de puta' and I was encouraged to use the abbreviated expression 'jueputa'. I wanted to text the phrase to show some appreciation, and I wasn't quite sure how to spell it, so I began my journey online and uncovered a treasure trove.

First, I found this page which offered a clue:

HIJO DE PUTA: 'hijoeputa' or 'higueputa', spanish word meaning 'son of a bitch'.

Not quite satisfied, I searched for 'higueputa' and found 'hijueputa', a variation on the spelling, which is abbreviated as 'jueputa'. Bingo.

The phrase 'jueputa' is a blend of words from different origins.

Spanish 'hijo' (son) crosses over with variations on roots of the English word we know as 'hag' which became 'higue' when Europeans arrived in the Caribbean, then later took on the Latin twist, 'hijue', before contracting to 'jue'. So,  just add 'puta' as a chaser and you are ready to serve up a round of 'jueputa'. Here's the wiktionary entry for 'jueputa' to confirm conclusions about abbreviation.

(hijo de puta = higueputa = hijueputa = jueputa = jue).

Although we recognize the word 'puta' to be the Spanish equivalent to the English word 'bitch', we lose some meaning in translation, that it doesn't in fact mean 'female dog', but according to Urban Dictionary, 'puta' is short for spanish "prostituta" which means prostitute. The implication and agreement of both 'hag' and 'bitch' in this phrase is actually 'whore / prostitute'; 'hag-whore', or 'son of a hag-whore'. The phrase is employed like any good expletive. 

e.g. Upon smashing his thumb with a hammer, Juan cursed "Aye, jueputa!".

Actually, I recall working with a Mexican guy who used to say '¿Qué onda?, jue?' which I suppose meant 'What's happening, son of a bitch'. 'Onda' translates via Google as 'wave' and I found a reference online that suggests 'what's shaking'.

According to the wiki on hag:

The term appears in Middle English, and was a shortening of hægtesse, an Old English term for witch, similarly the Dutch heks and German hexe are also shortenings, of the Middle Dutch haghetisse and Old High German hagzusa respectively.[4] All these words derive from the Proto-Germanic *hagatusjon-[4] which is of unknown origin, however the first element may be related to the word "hedge".
(end wiki)

...interesting that the derivation of 'hag' leads the root of the word 'hex' and carries the association with the occult. Also, that this same root relates to 'hedge' which represents an enclosure, barrier or form of protection. Notably, The Hague means 'hedge'.

According to wiki, the word 'hag' is used interchangeably with 'crone', is associated with misogyny, and refers to a woman who is 'marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, and her proximity to death places her in contact with occult wisdom'.

...when I looked up the word 'higue', I encountered many references to the legends in Guyana including this one:

I also found this on wiki:

The soucouyant or soucriant in Dominica, Trinidadian and Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Ole-Higue or Loogaroo elsewhere in the Caribbean), is a kind of blood-sucking hag.


The soucouyant is a shape-shifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enters the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes.

Soucouyants suck people's blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning.[3] If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices witchcraft, voodoo, and black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims' blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.[3]

To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act.[3] To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, St. Lucia, Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad.[4]

The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic.


Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.

In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, and also in Suriname, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could disguise the creature's wings.

The term "Loogaroo" also used to describe the soucouyant, possibly comes from the French mythological creature called the Loup-garou, a type of werewolf, and is common in the Culture of Mauritius. In Suriname this creature is called "Asema".

(end wiki entry)