Codo & Coda – Translations & Meanings in English


Definition – In standard Spanish, codo means ‘elbow’. However, in Latin American countries, codo and coda are used in informal contexts to describe a person that is not willing to spend or give any money away. Therefore, in slang conversations, ‘codo’ and ‘coda’ can be translated as ‘cheap’, ‘stingy’, ‘tight-fisted’ and ‘miserly’. 

What Does ‘Codo’ & ‘Coda’ Means?

  • Translation #1: When talking about body parts, ‘codo’ means ‘elbow’. 
  • Translation #2: If used to describe a cheap person, ‘codo’ and ‘coda’ can be translated as ‘cheap’, ‘stingy’, ‘tight-fisted’ or ‘miserly’. 

How and When to use ‘Codo’ & ‘Coda’

  • As a synonym of ‘elbow’. When talking about body parts, ‘codo’ is the Spanish word for ‘elbow’. Since in Spanish ‘elbow’ is a masculine noun, in this context, ‘codo’ doesn’t have a feminine form. 
  • To describe a cheap person. In Latin American Spanish speaking countries, ‘codo’ can be used in informal situations to refer to a very ungenerous person that has issues to spend or give money. As a result, it means ‘cheap’, ‘stingy’, ‘tight-fisted’ or ‘miserly’. Additionally, if you’re describing a woman, you need to use the feminine for coda. 

Examples on How to Use ‘Codo’ & ‘Coda’

Here are some real-life examples of how to use ‘codo’ and ‘coda’ in a Spanish sentence. 

As a synonym of ‘elbow’

This is the standard meaning of ‘codo’. Notice that in this situation, ‘codo’ works as a masculine noun. 

[Verb conjugated] + el/los + codo

¿Qué te pasó en el codo? 
What happened to your elbow?

Ayer me caí y me golpeé en los codos
Yesterday I fell and hit my elbows

¿Te duele el codo? Deberías ir a que te revisen
Does your elbow hurt? You should go to get checked

To describe a cheap person

For this context, ‘codo’ and ‘coda’ work as slang Spanish adjectives. As a result, they need to match the gender and the number of the person you’re describing. This meaning is very popular in the following Spanish speaking countries:

  • Mexico
  • Guatemala 
  • Honduras
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay 
  • Bolivia
  • Colombia

[Person] + [ser conjugated] + codo / coda

No le pidas dinero a Paco, ya sabes que es muy codo
Don’t ask Paco for money, you know that he’s very tight-fisted

La verdad yo soy muy coda y no me gusta gastar dinero
To be honest, I’m very cheap and I don’t like to spend money

Beatriz y Leo son muy codos y siempre compran lo más barato
Beatriz and Leo are very stingy and always buy the cheapest 

Remember that you can also use these adjectives in expressions built with ¡qué…!

¿En serio vas a comprar eso? ¡Qué codo!
Are you really going to buy that? You’re so cheap!

Take Note: In informal situations, ‘me duele el codo’ is a slang phrase that expresses that a person is feeling reluctant to spend money on something because it’s either too expensive or not worth it. 

Who Can You Use ‘Codo’ & ‘Coda’ With?

As a synonym of ‘elbow’, ‘codo’ can be used with all people and in all types of situations. When dealing with the slang meaning, make sure you use it in informal situations and in Latin American Spanish speaking countries. 

Synonyms: 4 Ways To Say ‘Codo’ & ‘Coda’

  • Tacaño → It’s the direct translation of ‘cheap’ or ‘stingy’. It’s used to describe people that are not very generous with money. 
  • Avaro → This is the standard and direct translation of ‘cheap’, ‘tight-fisted’ and ‘stingy’. 
  • Agarrado → In Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela, ‘agarrado’ is an informal adjective that describes cheap people. 
  • Amarrado → It’s another popular and informal word to say ‘cheap’, ‘stingy’ and ‘tight-fisted’. It’s popular in Mexico and Colombia.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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