"Cantinflear" = Cacophony

I have been studying English for almost a year now, and much of it has been making semantic comparisons with Spanish. Similar verb refers to the act of giving a message (usually spoken) in a confusing, absurd way and with an excessive use of periphrastic verbs. I have seen several examples in translators where it shows me verbs:

"Talk gibberish" - "to babble"

However, it does not seem to me that the meaning implies the absence of ideas, but the excess of.

Cantinflear: Speaking or acting in a nonsensical and incongruous manner and saying nothing of substance.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 0:39
  • Thanks for making the edits, that clarifies a lot. There are still a few things left to make clear. Is 'cantinflear' supposed to be a Spanish word? (It's not English as far as I know). And then is the whole point of your question here to translate 'cantinflear' into English? If so, you need to make this explicit.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 15:03
  • 1
    @Mitch - Cantinflear is a Spanish word, derived from the Mexican comedian Cantinflas' name (listen to some excerpts on youtube). And I believe that the idea is to find an equivalent word in English. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 15:36
  • @Heartspring Thanks. All that was very unclear in the original and still in the currently edited version.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:27
  • NicWaves, is the youtube clip definitively 'cantinflear'? If that guy is entirely serious, he may have a psychiatric sign indicative of a (mild) brain disorder. Or, since many words he uses are Spanish in an American accent, he just may have a hard time getting across his thoughts articulately (and he just fills in with other words to keep the convo going). There may be technical terms for the psych problem (circumlocution?) or informal terms (babbling vs nonsense). While these terms may have specific meanings, they all kind of work OK in English for all these situations.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


The Real Academia definition is this:

Entry: cantinflear De Cantinflas, popular actor mexicano, y -ear.

  1. intr. coloq. Cuba y Méx. Hablar o actuar de forma disparatada e incongruente y sin decir nada con sustancia.

Translation: cantiflear, From Cantinflas, a well-known Mexican actor

intransitive, colloquial, Cuba and Mexico. To speak or act in a nonsensical or incongruent manner and without saying anything of substance.

Real Academia dictionary

It's always best to go to the source, and then translate it.


The Spanish cantinflear comes from the comedian Cantinflas' name (Source). The word I'd use to describe his way of speaking would be, as you suggested, babble, or the equally colorful gabble.

Per Merriam-Webster, to gabble means

to talk fast or foolishly : JABBER

to utter inarticulate or animal sounds

to say with incoherent rapidity : BABBLE

And there are several onomatopoeic verbs built of a similar vein, including jabber, blather, blither, and prattle.

All of them could be used to describe Cantinflas' distinctive rapid, unintelligible, nonsensical cadence (and also imply that there's not much information that's actually being communicated).

  • 1
    Cantinflas was famous for (among many other things) his doubletalk, i.e, for sounding like he was speaking Spanish, while in fact being incomprehensible in any language. As a verb (especially capitalized), Cantinflear clearly refers to this fluent double-talk. Think Professor Irwin Corey in American English. Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 22:52
  • Like Prisencolinensinainciusol?
    – livresque
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 23:56

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