Joto is a derogatory term used in Mexico, Honduras, and Chile to insult gay men, being one of the best known and used. However, indeed, it is also used by those involved to name themselves, following this world movement reappropriation of insults. The origin of this expression is not clear at the moment, but there are several theories among which the following stand out.

· On one hand, some say it comes from “Sota” a figure of Spanish deck of cards because someone sees in the illustration effeminate attributes.

· Others say that “Joto” is the breastfed baby goat and might be related to blowjobs.

· The most common theory is that which refers to the Mexican prison in the city of Lecumberry, according to which homosexuals were locked in the “J” section, although there are also those who say that it was because in that section were locked the imprisoned by the famous “Dance of the 41”.

· And the most surprising theory is that “Joto” would come from the Aragonese Jota (famous Spanish dance and song) through the semantic leap dance – woman – homosexual.

The only thing we know for sure is that the first reference of the word Joto is found in an article by the Colombian Federico Aguilar, dated in 1883, which lists a number of used terms in Puebla and the central states of Mexico, in which “Joto” is defined as “maricón” (faggot). This places the appearance of the term 7 years before the construction of the prison of Lecumberri (1900), therefore the theory of the origin of this slang that relates it to the Jota section of the Lecumberri prison, as well as its relationship with the “Baile de los 41” (1901), loses all validity.

Over time, in Moscas de Colores we have developed a certain sense for separate the wheat from the chaff, however with “Joto” although we have no doubt to rebut the myth of the jota section of the prison, the rest of the theories seems silly explanations. We will see in the future, where words will lead us.

Playing card Sota de Oros, which could be the origin of Joto

The origin of Joto could be in Sota de Oros, card of the Spanish Deck. Fragment of “Cartas del juego Tute” By Tupeorpesadilla.com718 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0


Variants: Jotito, Jota.

See: Forty-One

Other words of the same language:

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  • Really good research yo creeo que sera por la Baraja y decor Joto en ningun momento es ofensivo hay much is jotos que asi se llamas asi mismos

    • Hi Ricardo!

      Thank you very much for your comment and your contribution. We have already supplemented the article with it. Not only do we do it, but there is also a worldwide movement of re-appropriation of insults, just as it happens in Spain with the word marica. So its meaning and effect will depend on who says it, how he/she says it, and why.

      Kind regards.