I misplaced my TransMilenio card recently, and it’s been driving me crazy. Something important that makes city living easier, I’ve had it since 2010, and I even managed to hold onto it the two years that I was back in the U.S. And now I have to up and lose it! I just don’t get it. It’s bright red and should be easy to find. I’ve torn apart my apartment multiple times, though, and it just won’t be found. I haven’t been able to give it up for lost quite yet, insisting that it’s just misplaced. I fear that officially declaring it lost and getting a new one will require rigmarole and bureaucratic hoops to jump through that I’d rather avoid. All signs point to its irredeemable lostness, though, so I just need to accept it, get a new one, and move on.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the accidental se construction in Spanish, which is constructed via se le + verbo a alguien. So if you spill, lose, forget, burn, or do anything else unfortunate to some object, you express it by saying that the object spilt, lost, forgot, burnt, etc. itself and affected you. Who, me? Scatterbrained? No, I would never be so absent-minded so as to lose my keys–those daggum keys lost themselves and inconvenienced me in the process.

¡Se me perdieron las llaves!

I lost my keys!

If you didn’t lose something (or are just in denial, like I am) but merely seem to have misplaced it, your verb is extraviar.

¿Será que me podrías prestar tu lapicero? Se me extravió el mío.

Could you lend me your pen? I can’t seem to find mine.

Here in Colombia, they also use the verb refundir. Supposedly, this verb is used throughout the Andes region, Central America, and Mexico.

Voy a necesitar que vengas a abrirme el casillero, es que a la muchacha se le ha refundido la llavita.

I’m going to need you to come open the locker for me, since the girl has misplaced her key.

One definition for refundir is: meter en el fondo (stick in the bottom or at the back of something), so you can see that the idea of refundir is of an item getting irretrievably lost in the murky nether regions of some theoretical bag or box.

There’s also traspapelar, which is used for files and documents. Imagine something getting misfiled or stuck in some random folder never to see the light of day again, despite multiple searches for it. The verb can also be used for electronic files like emails.

Se me traspapeló la factura, necesito que me impriman una copia.

I lost the receipt, so I’ll need you to print me a copy.

They also say embolatar in Colombia for to lose something, a verb which, if you remember from a few weeks back, can also be used to say that you’re busy.

Se me embolató el correo, regálenmelo otra vez, por favor.

I lost the email; send it to me again, please.


Another little detail to point out: I don’t know about other countries, but here in Colombia to say “what did I do with such-and such?,” you say ¿Qué hice X cosa? It would be like saying, What did I do my keys? And not, What did I do with my keys? Strange, eh?

¿Qué hice mis llaves?

Now, what did I do with my keys?

No sé qué se hicieron tus zapatos, pero te ayudo a buscarlos.

I don’t know where your shoes are, but I’ll help you look for them.

So, there you have it: all the ways to get lost in Spanish, as if you weren’t feeling lost already. Speaking of lost, the best-selling American book and movie Gone Girl was translated as Perdida in Spanish. The TV show Lost was Desaparecidos or Perdidos. If knowing the right Spanish for expressing that you’ve lost something is a poor consolation, pray to St. Anthony–the saint of lost things–quick!

4 responses to “Lost

  1. Interesting. I have thought about this in the past and have a theory. the construct “Se me”, sounds like It, or they me lost, in other words, the object lost me, I did not lose the object. It’s not the object that is lost, it’s we who are lost to it. :)


  2. I always get the feeling that traspapelar is the popular choice if dodging responsibility is of the escence. Say you call an office to ask if you can pick up your check or something, they might reply, and they do quite often, with something like

    “uy, será que nos puedes enviar la cuenta otra vez? Parece que se traspapeló.”

    Which avoids using the awfuly irresponsible “whatdoyaknow, we lost it” and at the same time implying that it’s quite normal for a paper to get, well, transpapered, right? So I guess their response would translate to

    “oh sorry, could you send us the bill again? It sems to have done that thing that papers do. You know”

    Good luck getting around the city :) And I don’t know if you should worry about the metro… Do you think they’ll finally build it?


    • Seems to have done that thing that papers do- love it!

      After writing this post, I realized that I forgot to include the word botar.

      I really don’t know about the metro–have a lot of thoughts running every which way. But something has to be done, and I hope that it will be the best option/s. In general, I don’t have much confidence in the current plans and Petro’s management of them.


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