James asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 4 weeks ago

What is this Mexican woman REALLY saying to me?

So at work, I have a Mexican female customer that comes in and says, "Hola, muchacho feo!", or "Hola, feo!", or sometimes when trying to get my attention, she'll say "Hey feo."

Everyone who's learned even a little bit of Spanish knows that "feo" means "ugly", which would make the statement sound like, "Hello, ugly boy!". However, she claims that "feo" has two meanings. She claims that "feo" can also mean "handsome" or "good-looking" or something similar, which to me makes no sense. How could a word, that's spelled exactly the same, have an alternate meaning that means virtually the opposite? So I had a friendly argument with her over it. She swears up and down that it's true. I told her that I would look into it, so I did. 

This woman is a nice person. She's a regular customer of ours and spends a modest amount of money in our store. She is a native born Mexican, and it's clear that Spanish is her first language. She has used the word on me in front of her family and other Spanish speakers in our store, and none of them seemed to be phased by the use of it.

I can find nothing on the internet about this alternate "feo" meaning. I have even asked one of my Spanish speaking friends about it. She thinks that this woman might be trying to flirt with me, which may seem logical, but this woman also has a husband, and is significantly older than me. 

If anyone has any information about the alternate "feo" meaning, I'm dying to know about it.


I've also asked her if it's slang, similar to friends saying something like, "Whaddup ugly!", but she says that's not the case.

3 Answers

  • 4 weeks ago

    I'm a native spanish speaker and have never ever heard the word "feo" being used as a compliment.. .. Are you sure she is saying the word "feo"?.... I know in Spain, some women refer to men as "guapo" which indeed means "handsome"... Maybe you should tell her that you would rather be called "guapo" instead of "feo".

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    I don't know but it seems pretty inappropriate of her to refer to you using ANY nickname, unless you have that kind of rapport.  You're an employee, she's a customer, so it sounds like she's crossing boundaries that she has no right to cross.  This is one of the reasons why I can't stand many Mexicans (and I've lived around and worked with many).  In their minds, there aren't any lines between what's appropriate and what isn't.  They just don't understand basic things. They can be extremely low class.  An American customer would not even think about doing something so inappropriate.

  • Craig
    Lv 5
    4 weeks ago

    Just take it at face value, James.  She says she's complimenting you.  If she is lying, and is actually playing some sort of twisted psycho-joke on you that she's not even going to make you aware of, then that's her particular trip and there's nothing you can do about it.  Treating her coldly won't stop her, because it's all in her head anyway.

    On the other hand, if she likes you, then it doesn't matter what she's saying or how she's saying it.  She's just a kindly neighbor, and you honor yourself by being kindly back.

    In the first case, you do nothing.  In the second case, you allow yourself to be the good guy you naturally are.  Why bother to restrain yourself?  Just be the good guy you are.  It has no downside.

    (Also, be a little more confident.  You look how you were created to look, and that's fine, no matter what words people use to describe it.)

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