Learning, not just for the niños

“¿Qué es el matónaje? Qué significa esa palabra?” Suegra called to me from the living room where she was watching her noticias.

I thought for a second, as I chopped vegetables in the kitchen. This is not a word I’ve ever used in Spanish, but I knew the word “matón” for “bully” and the “-aje” suffix is equivalent to the “-age” suffix in English, and somehow my brain figured all of this out in less than 5 seconds and came up with “Bullying. Matónaje is bullying.”

“Están diciendo en las noticias que los niños tienen miedo del matónaje en la escuela…¿Qué es?” Suegra called to me again.

“Bueno, creo que ‘matónaje’ es cuando un niño hace chistes crueles al otro, y a veces le golpean o roban cosas del otro niño,” I said.

Suegra went back to watching her noticias, and I smiled to myself. A 60-something year old native Spanish speaker asked me the meaning of a word she didn’t know… and I did.


  1. This is awesome. Good for you, Señora López. However, I couldn’t help but wish you would have told her: “matonaje is what you’ve been doing to me ever since I’ve known you,” and just left it at that…

    • @ Ruben – LOL, believe me, I was tempted. The irony of her not knowing this particular word was not lost on me.

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