Spanish

Tortillera

Tortillera is a derogatory term to name lesbians. Its literal meaning is a kitchen utensil used to make tortillas (omelets) or wear it to picnic and is also the woman who makes omelets or pancakes, depending on the country.

The first written reference of the word Tortillera as slang for lesbian dating from 1830, in the Spanish-French dictionary by M. Nuñez de Taboada, published in Madrid, in which the French word “Tribade” is translated as Tortillera and defined as “a woman who abuses another”. With this, it is demonstrated that the origin attributed to Maitreya, a novel by Cuban writer Severo Sarduy published in 1978, is wrong. Although the word tortillera as lesbian slang is more or less known wherever Spanish is spoken, the origin must be placed in Spain.

Another fact that could reinforce this idea is a text of Adolfo Sanchez Vazquez, which narrates the arrival to Mexico of Spanish exiled people by the Civil War, who was surprised to see a sign saying “El sindicato de Tortilleras les da la bienvenida” (The Tortilleras Union, gives you the welcome). Everything can be, but at the beginning, nobody would make a poster or a union with a word that was also derogatory slang of lesbian.

Some explain the origin of this slang with etymology, which brings us to the bun and even the placenta (look at that!!), but the thing is, forgive us Corominas, often slang words are not originated by etymology, but are created from jumps of phonetic resemblances, in order to avoid pronouncing what really meant, or also for mispronouncing one word or say one word for another.

Thus, the most likely origin could be in the term Torticera (something like tortious), a word derived from Latin tortus, with the meaning of crooked, twisted, etc. Torticera would be a cultured word, and by a process of popular etymology would be expressed wrongly as Tortillera, by their phonetic similarity. In this way, people said “she is Tortillera” instead of “she is Torticera”, by an error in pronunciation. The consideration of homosexual behavior as something twisted, deviant, will do the rest.

For all the above, Tortillera as slang for lesbian, would not have its origin in tortilla (omelet) or bollo (pancake), thus refuting all sexual and onomatopoeic explanations of this famous lesbian slang, but it belongs to the set of insults that have to do with the idea of ill-fated, deviant, inverted, twisted, etc. so common in the gay and lesbian slang of almost the entire planet such as, the famous English word Queer.

Close-up photograph of a white T-shirt worn by a girl with the Tortillera drawing, a fictional logo of a flour brand named tortillera, focused on a beautiful young woman with generous breasts.

T-shirt with the Tortillera drawing. You can purchase it in our online stores.


Variations: Tortera (El Salvador, Peru, Puerto Rico), Torta (Argentina, Uruguay), Torti (Argentina, Miami, Honduras, Spain, Peru), Tortilla.

Related: Arepera (Colombia), Cachapera (Venezuela, Puerto Rico), Pastelera y Panadera (Peru).

Read more: Tortillera. Lesbian Dictionary (Spain).

Other words of the same language:
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2 Thoughts on Tortillera
    Luis
    25 Jul 2019
    2:09am

    “Tortillera” is a word that has two meanings in Mexico. The corn tortillas were all originally made by hand, so “tortillera” is used for a person that makes tortillas, so the “The Tortilleras Union” referred to the ladies that makes tortillas for a living.

    Now let’s get to the other meaning. When I was young, I asked my mom in Mexico what was the meaning of “tortilleras.” Then, she made the movement of hands with two open palms to make tortillas (see this part of this video to understand what I’m talking about: https://youtu.be/g4cfcIH-h74?t=153 ), which is aking to gently clapping with your hands.

    I immediately understood that it meant two flat bodies (pubis) clapping or rubbing each other.

    Apparently there is no earlier documented evidence of such ethymology, which would have placed the origin of that meaning in Mexico. It is possible that the meaning may have traveled to Spain to be documented there first, but this is of course impossible to prove.

    In any case, that putatory etymology makes even more sense to me when I look at a Spanish tortilla (https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spanish_tortilla_78863)

      Pabupop
      25 Jul 2019
      7:08pm

      Hello Luis!

      We appreciate your comment, however, we wonder if you have really read the entry of this dictionary and the extensive article on the word accessed in the “read more”. Both in the dictionary entry and in the article, it is demonstrated that the origin of Tortillera is located in Spain and has nothing to do with that supposed sound that warming minds think that lesbian sex produces. On the other hand, the Spanish tortilla only carries eggs and potatoes, or at the most, onion. Regards.

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