How to Say Food in Spanish

Two Methods:Basic Terms for FoodSlang Terms

Food — the fuel for daily life — is something that can produce some very colorful vocabulary no matter what language you're speaking. Spanish is no exception. With multiple words for the idea of food itself and a whole host of related words and regional slang terms, the Spanish language has no shortage of words to discuss food. Luckily, the basics are easy, even if you don't know a word of Spanish!

Method 1
Basic Terms for Food

  1. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 1
    Say "comida" as a general term for "food" or "meal". This is probably the most important food-related word you'll want to know. It's used in virtually all Spanish-speaking countries as an all-purpose word for "food." It can also be used the same way as "meal" is used in English: "la comida" can be both the general idea of food and the specific food you eat when you sit down at your plate.
    • "Comida" is pronounced "koh-MEE-thah." When d is used before a vowel at the end of a word in Spanish, it gets a soft sound that's very similar to the "th" sound in English (as in "th").[1]
    • Be sure to put stress on the "ee" part of the word. It's "koh-MEE-thah," not "koh-mee-THAH" or "KOH-mee-thah." In the rest of this article, the syllable written in capitals gets the stress.
  2. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 2
    Say "alimento" for "food" or "nourishment." This is another common word used to refer to food. Unlike "comida," it isn't usually used for "meal," but you can use it metaphorically to discuss fuel, feed, and so on (e.g., "alimento para el fuego" means "fuel for the fire").
    • Pronounce "alimento" "all-ee-MEN-toe." The first syllable sounds like the word "all" (not the name "Al").
  3. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 3
    Use "sustento" for "sustenance." This word is a somewhat old-fashioned way to describe food. Here, the focus is on the fact that the food is sustaining the person eating it — it's implied that it's his or her source of survival in a way that isn't usually done for "normal" food. For example, a prisoner's meager rations might be "su sustento" ("his sustenance"). You can also use this word to refer to a person's means of living (i.e., a job).
    • Pronounce this word "soos-TEHN-toe." Note that the first syllable uses a "oo" sound (as in "root") rather than an "oh" sound (as in "toe").
  4. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 4
    Use "comestibles" for "edibles." This isn't a word that's usually used when people are talking about the food in their day-to-day meals. Instead, it's mainly used for referring to food as a product or commodity. For example, "la tienda de comestibles" is "the edibles store," or what we would call a grocery store.[2]
    • Pronounce this word "koh-meh-STEE-blays." The word ends with a hard s sound (as in "glass") rather than a soft s (like an English z). This is true in general for the Spanish s.[3]
  5. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 5
    Learn the names of the daily meals. If you want to talk specifically about the food you would typically eat at a given time of the day, you can use the name of the meal. These are:
    • Breakfast: el desayuno ("deh-sah-JOO-no" or "deh-sah-YOO-no")
    • Lunch: el almuerzo ("all-MWEHR-so")
    • Dinner: la cena ("SAY-nah")
  6. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 6
    Learn the various terms for "snack." Like English, Spanish has many different ways to refer to the small meals you eat between the "main" ones — in other words, snacks. A few of the most common ones are listed below. There are many others that vary from region to region.
    • el tentempié ("ten-temp-ee-AY")
    • el bocadillo ("boh-cah-DEE-joe" or "boh-cah-DEE-yo")
    • el piscolabis ("pees-coh-LAW-bees")

Method 2
Slang Terms

  1. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 7
    Try "cebo." This literally means "bait" or "lure" (like you would use for fishing). It's often used as a slang term for food the same way you might use "chow" or "chum" in English.
    • "Cebo" is pronounced "SAY-bo." Like in English, the"c" is pronounced like an "s" if it's before an e.
  2. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 8
    Say "pasto" for "feed" or "chow." This noun is often used for "food" and "nourishment", but it also means "pasture", "grass", "feed", and "grazing". Though its dictionary definition contains mostly agricultural meanings, it's often used for people as well. Like with "cebo," the usage is similar to "chow."
    • This word is pronounced "PAH-stow." It's almost exactly like the English word "pasta," only with an "oh" sound at the end (as in "toe").
  3. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 9
    Use "pitanza" for "daily rations" or "grub." This word sounds a little like the English word "pittance," but its meaning is actually much closer to "daily rations." You can use this definition or use the word as a sling term for "food" in general.[4]
    • The proper pronunciation is "pee-TAN-sah."
  4. Image titled Say Food in Spanish Step 10
    Use "pan" as a metaphor for food in general. The literal meaning of "pan" is "bread." However, the word is sometimes used to convey the idea of food or sustenance in general. This is done in English, too (e.g., "our daily bread").
    • "Pan" is easy to pronounce — it's just "PAHN" (rhymes with "John"). Spanish speakers use a somewhat short, "punchy" pronunciation for this word. The "ah" sound isn't drawn out like in the English word "pawn" — it's quick and staccato.
    • An expression you may want to know is "Pan de cada día" ("PAHN dey kah-da DEE-uh"). This is literally "bread of every day," or, in English, "daily bread."


  • There are also many round-about ways to talk about food without referring to it directly. For example, if you say "algo para comer" ("something to eat"), Spanish speakers will understand exactly what you mean.
  • A Spanish thesaurus (like the one available at can be great for finding alternate words for "food."[5]

Article Info

Categories: Spanish