7 Ways to say traffic in Spanish

For many years I thought I knew the only word there was for traffic in Spanish.  Well, turns out I was wrong.  Spanish has a funny way of surprising you with these things.

Here are 7 ways to say traffic in Spanish that will have you sounding like a native speaker.

1. Tráfico

This is the literal translation for the English word traffic, and quite likely the first (and perhaps only) one you learned.  If you want to be boring you can use this word everywhere you go in the Spanish speaking world.

¿Habia mucho tráfico?
Was there a lot of traffic?

2. Taco

In Chile and parts of Colombia you’ll hear traffic referred to as a taco.

De ida al trabajo me pilló un taco en la calle diez
On the way to work I got caught in a traffic jam on tenth street

Oddly enough, the word taco can be used for more than just food and traffic jams.

3.  Embotellamiento (del tránsito)

While you’ll see the phrase embotellamiento del tránsito, it’s just as common to see the word embotellamiento used by itself.

Hay embotellamiento en la autopista  por el incendio de un auto
There’s a traffic jam on the freeway because of a car fire

4. Atasco

The word atasco  is very commonly used in Spain, although it would be understood elsewhere given the proper context.

Llego tarde, estoy en medio de un atasco (de tráfico)
I’m going to get there late, I’m in the middle of a traffic jam

5. Congestión de vehículos

This sounds a bit more formal, like something you would hear in your morning traffic report. You’re not likely to hear this quite as often as some of the other options in your day-to-day conversations.

Es imposible transitar con esta congestión de vehículos
It’s impossible to get around with all this traffic

6. Tapón

This another word you may hear in Spain.

Estoy en un tapón de tráfico
I’m in a traffic jam

7. Trancón

I saved my favorite word for traffic for last.

You’ll hear this word throughout Central America and Colombia, so’ll you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this one.

No voy para alla porque hay mucho trancón
I’m not going over there because there’s a lot of traffic

Wrapping thing up

I’ve given you 7 great options for how to say traffic in Spanish and now you’re ready to go forth and impress your Spanish speaking friends as well the locals you come across in your travels.

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Comments 2

  1. Another great article, Rodney. Trancón and taco are new to me. Here in Costa Rica, tráfico is used but I think tránsito is more common, and mucha presa is used for heavy traffic and traffic jams.
    Keep up these word studies. I love them!

    1. Post

      Thanks Harlan, I had actually forgotten about presa, which was the only word I heard for traffic in San Jose. So now we have 8 words for traffic. 🙂

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