Hostia in Spanish | Translations, Meanings & Uses


What does ‘hostia’ mean in Spanish?

In standard Spanish, ‘hostia’ refers to the bread used in the Holy Communion. However, in informal Castilian Spanish, it means ‘damn it’, ‘holy cow’, or ‘Jesus Christ’ when expressing emotions. As an adjective, it is used to describe something or someone and in some contexts, it is a synonym for ‘punch’ or ‘hit’.

Hostia is an extremely popular word in Castilian Spanish. So, if you’re interested in learning the Spaniard dialect, in this article, you’ll learn this term’s uses and the contexts where you can apply it. 

Meaning of ‘Hostia’ in Spanish?

In standard Spanish, the word ‘hostia’ has a religious meaning. In fact, this term refers to the bread that Catholic churches use for the Holy Communion. As a standard term, this meaning applies to all Spanish-speaking countries. 

However, in informal conversations, Spaniards use ‘hostia’ as an interjection or as an adjective to describe someone’s personality or an object’s quality. Finally, with certain verbs, this word is an informal synonym of ‘punch’ or ‘hit’. 

So based on this:

  • ‘Hostia’ means ‘host when applied in a religious context. 
  • When used to express emotions, ‘hostia’ means ‘holy cow!’, ‘Jesus!’, ‘Bloody hell’ or ‘damn it’
  • When describing someone or something, ‘hostia’ can be translated as ‘cool’, ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’ or ‘to have a bad temper’.
  • ‘Hostia’ means ‘punch’, ‘slap’ or ‘hit’ when expressing that a person hit another or himself. 

Now, ‘hostia’ is very popular in Spain. However, it’s extremely informal and some Catholic people may find it offensive. So, to be safe, you should only use it with your friends. Don’t forget that these slang meanings are only used in Spain. 

How to Use ‘Hostia’ in Spanish

As mentioned before, the meanings of ‘hostia’ vary depending on the context. Therefore, you can use this word to: 

  • Refer to the Holy Communion
  • Express emotions 
  • Describe people and objects
  • Talk about punches and hits

In the sections below, I’ll give a more in-depth explanation of this word, along with examples, so you have a better understanding of how to use it.

Refer to the Holy Communion

In all Spanish-speaking countries, ‘hostia’ is the bread that Catholics priests bless and use during the Holy Communion. So, in this standard context, ‘hostia’ means ‘host

El sacedorte está consagrando la hostia
The priest is consecrating the host

Los curas están preparando las hostias
The priests are preparing the hosts.

La hostia está al lado del cáliz. 
The host is next to the holy chalice.

Express emotions 

In informal Castilian Spanish, people use the interjection ‘hostia’ or ‘hostias’ to express their feelings about a certain situation. As a result, this expression is close in meaning to ‘damn it’, ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘geez’, ‘holy cow’ or ‘bloody hell’. 

With this meaning, you can use ‘hostia’ at the beginning or at the end of your sentence:

¡Hostia! ¿Es que no puedes hacer las cosas bien?
Damn! Can’t you do anything right?

¿Conseguiste el trabajo? ¡Hostias! ¡Me alegro por ti!
Did you get the job? Holy cow! I’m happy for you!

¡Hostia! Se me olvidaron las llaves. 
Jesus Christ! I forgot my keys. 

Take Note: In grammar, an interjection is a word or small phrase whose purpose is to express emotions such as surprise, excitement, anger, joy, or disappointment. Since they’re not affected by other elements, we can place an interjection anywhere on the sentence. 

Describe people and objects

Another common use of ‘hostia’ in informal settings is to describe someone’s personality or the permanent characteristics of an object. In this case, the meaning of ‘hostia’ changes depending on whether the description is positive or negative. Overall, we can translated as:

  • Amazing
  • Cool
  • Great
  • Incredible 
  • Bad
  • Terrible

Here are some structures that you can use for this meaning. Remember that for permanent characteristics, you’ll use the verb ‘ser’

[Noun] + [‘ser’ conjugated] + la hostia + [complement]

¡El nuevo coche de Pedro es la hostia!
Pedro’s new car is amazing!

¡El truco del mago fue la hostia!
The magician’s trick was really amazing!

Manuel y sus amigos son la hostia
Manuel and his friends are very cool

If instead of talking about permanent characteristics you want to emphasize or talk about other qualities, you can use the following structures. Keep in mind that, in this case, the meaning can be positive or negative. 

[Noun] + [‘verb’ conjugated] + de la hostia + [complement]

El carro de Joaquín está de la hostia
Joaquin’s car is incredible

Tu novia tiene un carácter de la hostia
Your girlfriend has such a bad character. 

Take Note: the expression mala hostia expresses that a person is in a bad mood or has bad intentions. 

¡Qué mala hostia tiene la vecina!
The neighbor has such a terrible character

As a synonym of ‘punch’ or ‘hit’

When combined with verbs like ‘dar’, ‘pegar’ and ‘meter’, ‘hostia’ is close in meaning to ‘slap’, ‘punch’ and ‘hit’. In this case, you can use these verbs in their reflexive form if you hit yourself or indirect object pronouns to explain who was punched or hit. 

[Reflexive/Indirect object pronoun] + [‘verb’ conjugated] + hostia + [complement]

Paco se metió una hostia
Paco hit himself. 

Si no te callas, te voy a dar una hostia
If you don’t shut up, I’ll punch you in the face. 

Mi papá nos daba unas hostias cuando nos portábamos mal. 
My dad slapped us every time we misbehaved.

Take Note: Spaniards also use the informal word tortazo as a synonym for ‘hit’ or ‘punch’. 

Synonyms for ‘Hostia’ in Spanish

Increíble is a standard word that we use to describe something amazing. It can be translated as ‘amazing’ or ‘incredible’. 

Es la leche is another informal Spaniard expression that people use to say that someone or something is cool. It can be translated as ‘cool’, ‘the bomb’ or ‘great’. 

No manches is a Mexican interjection that people use to express emotions. It means ‘holy cow’ or ‘you must be kidding’.

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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