Word of the week

Word of the week: calabobos

Calabobos: it’s a Spanish word for a specific type of rain, rain that seems light, like drizzle, but will soak you.  My brother told me the word over 20 years ago and I have never been able to remember it. He said that it equates with the phrase “fool soaker”. If you’re foolish enough to go out walking in a “calabobos” you will get soaked.

Regular readers of these pages will know that my brother moved to Spain in the 1980s and has lived there ever since. We catch up once or twice a year, usually here in West London for a week at Christmas, occasionally in Ireland, and some years when I take the family to Spain (this has happened four times over the last decade). Every few years I remember to ask him what that Spanish word is, the one that means “fool soaker”. I make a note of it somewhere, and then forget it again. I asked him yesterday evening and scribbled the word down. It’s on the folded-up piece of A4 beside me now, along with a new word that means much the same: sirimiri, which is used in the north of Spain.

This page on Wiktionary.org describes calabobos just as my brother did all those years ago: “(Spain, colloquial) rain that seems light enough for people to walk around in without getting wet, fooling those who do into getting drenched”. Vocabulary.com defines sirimiri as “very light rain; stronger than mist but less than a shower” but doesn’t suggest that you will get drenched if you take a walk in one. It offers the following Spanish synonyms: calabobos, cernidillo, chirimiri, llovizna, marea, serimiri, tapayagua. The first of those is enough for me.

Regular readers will also know that this Blog is developing into my exobrain, “a collection of things that no longer play on my mind in the way that they used to”. It has become the place to put words like calabobos which have never stuck in my actual brain before. Next time I’m searching for it I’ll know it’s here.



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