no tener madre

vince

Senior Member
English
Hello everyone,

I've run into this expression several times, and would like to know what it means. It is most definitely slang, but I don't know whether it's vulgar or not. Unfortunately, none of the component words (tener, madre, and no) are vulgar themselves so I can't censor the title of the thread.

Here are some example sentences, what do they mean?:

Hoy vi las noticias y no mames, no puedo creer que exista gente así... ya mejor ando evitando las noticias por que apuesto que en los últimos días no pararan de hablar de San Salvador Atenco y pasaran una y otra vez los videos de estas chingaderas! La neta no tienen madre!


Se sirven una tasa de café y agarran un puño de galletas. No tienen madre...
Thanks a lot people!
 
  • Txiri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In your second example, I think "they have no shame."

    Madre and padre are used colloquially in Mexico. Madre is bad, padre is good.
     

    Txiri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I can´t answer that specific question, but,

    Fuimos a una fiesta padrísimo, we went to a helluva party.

    Organizó una reunión de los gerentes y fue un desmadre total, he organized a meeting of the managers and it was a total fuckup.

    You might want to explore other threads where they talk about "madre" and "padre" in the Mexican sense, I think I was reading some of them not too long ago.
     

    Elina

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    "no tener madre" would be like saying "to be uneducated" or "badly mannered" it`s just an expresion and you cannot change it like using a positive verb there..
    as said before, mexicans use the words to refer to something good or bad.
     

    lapachis8

    Senior Member
    Mexico-Spanish
    Hi,
    "No tener madre" is a Mexican idiom that means not having scruples of any kind to do something harmful to someone. It can be used for mild stuff or really bad things like the Atenco clash mentioned in your post.

    El gobierno de Estados Unidos no tiene madre por enviar a tantos inocentes a la guerra.

    There is also "qué poca madre", which is an exclamation meaning:
    what a nerve or that somebody´s motives to do harm are rotten.
    In this case, madre has a positive meaning, not having a mother makes you a complete bastard.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Thanks

    could you all give me an example of "no tener madre" and what it translates to in English? Because the 3 meanings given so far, "to not have scruples", "to not be ashamed", and "to be uneducated" seem completely different to me.
     

    KateNicole

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    Vince,
    You could think of it like this:
    Your mother is supposedly the one who instills integrity in you. So if someone figuratively says "you have no mother," they could mean that something went seriously wrong as you were being raised!
     

    scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    vince said:
    Thanks

    could you all give me an example of "no tener madre" and what it translates to in English? Because the 3 meanings given so far, "to not have scruples", "to not be ashamed", and "to be uneducated" seem completely different to me.
    Not so far apart a it might first appear, dishonest, without shame and rude. (Educated in this sense means educated in manners)
     

    Txiri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    vince said:
    Thanks

    could you all give me an example of "no tener madre" and what it translates to in English? Because the 3 meanings given so far, "to not have scruples", "to not be ashamed", and "to be uneducated" seem completely different to me.
    One, I find it two different expressions to say, on the one hand, You aren´t ashamed, versus, You have no shame.

    Two, I personally find all the examples complementary. Having no scruples is rather synonymous with having no shame, and "to be uneducated" in the sense of "educado" in Spanish, means to have no manners. Lack of scruples refers to morals, lack of manners refers to upbringing, being "cortés". One who is unscrupulous has not been brought up well, and one who has no manners, probably is lacking on the scruples front, too.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    so any kind of behavior that can be inferred from not being raised by a mother properly will fit as a possible meaning of "no tener madre"?

    But I don't see how that fits with the example lapachis8 gave:
    " El gobierno de Estados Unidos no tiene madre por enviar a tantos inocentes a la guerra."

    I'm having a hard time picturing "no tener madre" being used outside of informal settings describing people. Unless of course "no tener madre" has lost its literal meaning. But then I don't see how the expression could have such a general meaning of any kind of behavior unfitting of a well-mannered person.
     

    Txiri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    You might want to read Octavio Paz (Nobel prize-winning poet)´s essay ... "Hijos de la Malinche". Better than looking for a linguistic reason, is exploring the cultural aspect. As far as I know, the madre-padre thing is a purely Mexican concept, and I´m NOT talking about "parents."
     

    scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    vince said:
    Thanks

    could you all give me an example of "no tener madre" and what it translates to in English? Because the 3 meanings given so far, "to not have scruples", "to not be ashamed", and "to be uneducated" seem completely different to me.
    When you say about someone "No tiene madre":warn: you are saying you think he is a rude, dishonest, shameless person. It doesn't get much worse. :warn: Most of the Mexican expresions containing "madre" are vulgar. On the other hand, stangely enough, most of the expressions containing "padre" are possitive and complimentary.
     

    scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    vince said:
    so any kind of behavior that can be inferred from not being raised by a mother properly will fit as a possible meaning of "no tener madre"?.
    I think KateNicole was trying to explain a possible entomology of the word. Don't get to hung up on the literal translation.

    vince said:
    But I don't see how that fits with the example lapachis8 gave:
    " El gobierno de Estados Unidos no tiene madre por enviar a tantos inocentes a la guerra.".
    Apearently the speaker has a pretty low opinion of the US.

    vince said:
    I'm having a hard time picturing "no tener madre" being used outside of informal settings describing people. Unless of course "no tener madre" has lost its literal meaning. Yes exactly.
    But then I don't see how the expression could have such a general
    meaning of any kind of behavior unfitting of a well-mannered person.
    The "general meaning" is that the person or country is an awful, terrible, disgusting person or country.

    Note: your speaker uses several vulgarities in the quoted paragraph. His bad language should not be taken too seriously.
     

    lapachis8

    Senior Member
    Mexico-Spanish
    "No tener madres" has absouletly nothing to do with being ill mannered. It´s having no scruples or having the nerve to do harmful stuff. This is an idios widely used in my country, i´m absolutely certain.
    cheers
     

    Jazztronik

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Spain
    In Spain there's for instance a positive way to use "madre", although at first it may seem a swear expression: "de puta madre" means "fabulous!" or "great!" or "fantastic!"

    there's another expression: "la madre que te parió!" that can be both good and bad depending on the context. For instance:
    "Viva la madre que te parió!" -> "You're great!"
    "Me cago en la madre que te parió" -> he/she is insulting your mother

    With "padre" there are also many expressions, but I'll tell you about this one: "padre" meaning something BIG, either good or bad. eg:
    "En menudo lío padre te has metido" -> "You've got into a major trouble"
    "Aquello fue la fiesta padre" -> "That party definitely rocked!"
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    If somebody is eating with their hands, can I say "no tienes madre!" ? (bad table manners)

    How about if someone never says thank you? Can I say "no tienes madre!"? (mal educado)

    Or if someone never tips the waiter? "no tienes madre!"? (inconsiderate and mal educado)

    How about if someone maliciously leaves a door half-open for a blind person to walk into? Can I say "no tienes madre!" ? (maliciousness)

    How about if someone is running a telemarketing scam to scam the elderly? Can I say "no tiene madre"? (maliciousness, dishonesty)
     

    lapachis8

    Senior Member
    Mexico-Spanish
    You can use the idiom for anything involving maliciousness or somebody being purposedly vicious. Not tipping a waiter (a very Candian thing to do according to some waiters in San Miguel de Allende i´ve met) or somebody eating with the hands if done maliciously, then the idiom applies nicely.
    No tener madre has to do with being malicious, with clear intention, not with a lack of manners. That was all I was trying to say, as a clarification to a post by a non-Mexican who was especulating about the meaning.
    cheers
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    - So eating with hands ---> I can't say "no tienes madre"
    - not saying thank you --> can't say it either, because there's no maliciousness, just lack of educación
    - not tipping waitor --> Yes, no tiene madre
    - leaves door half-open for blind person to bump into --> yes, maliciousness, no tiene madre
    - telemarketing scam --> malicious, no tiene madre
     

    lapachis8

    Senior Member
    Mexico-Spanish
    You can use the idiom for anything involving maliciousness or somebody being purposedly vicious.
    If you ever go to India, or some parts of South East Asia, would you tell the people that "no tienen madre" because they eat with their hands????
    I have no authority or whatsoever to tell you what you can say or not. Mastering idioms in a foreign language is difficult, but it gets even more difficult, when we sometimes feel compelled to apply or own culture values, when speaking a foreign language. I can only tell you that "no tener madre" involves bad intention and maliciousness. I cannot explain it in a simpler way. sorry about that.
     

    Pedro Arteaga

    Senior Member
    German USA
    vince said:
    If somebody is eating with their hands, can I say "no tienes madre!" ? (bad table manners) It would be very rude! You might say: Eres un maleducado.

    How about if someone never says thank you? Can I say "no tienes madre!"? (mal educado) Once more: it is offensive! It depends on the context (if it is your buddy, you might say it, if it is your boss, better not!

    Or if someone never tips the waiter? "no tienes madre!"? (inconsiderate and mal educado) just like above.

    How about if someone maliciously leaves a door half-open for a blind person to walk into? Can I say "no tienes madre!" ? (maliciousness) Definitively! You might even say> No tienes madre, hijo de la chingada!

    How about if someone is running a telemarketing scam to scam the elderly? Can I say "no tiene madre"? (maliciousness, dishonesty)
    Once more... I would tell him a lot more besides that!

    As all offensive slang expressions you should be very careful.
    LOL
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Just to clarify, I'm not TRYING to be offensive or to hurt peoples' feelings, I just want to know whether it MAKES SENSE to use this expression in the above circumstances.

    Thank you very much everyone,
    Vince
     

    Eloisa Giseburt

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish- Mexico
    vince said:
    Just to clarify, I'm not TRYING to be offensive or to hurt peoples' feelings, I just want to know whether it MAKES SENSE to use this expression in the above circumstances.

    Thank you very much everyone,
    Vince

    If you use it with your 3 first sentences it wouldn´t make much sence. The other two are fine. Just my opinion.
     

    Nippur de Lagash

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Castellano
    lapachis8 said:
    "No tener madres" has absouletly nothing to do with being ill mannered. It´s having no scruples or having the nerve to do harmful stuff. This is an idios widely used in my country, i´m absolutely certain.
    cheers
    I agree! "no tener madre" means the same as "ser un hijo de puta" (I apologize for the crude language) as far as I know, the second expresion can be said: "son of a bitch"
     

    scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    vince said:
    Just to clarify, I'm not TRYING to be offensive or to hurt peoples' feelings, I just want to know whether it MAKES SENSE to use this expression in the above circumstances.

    Thank you very much everyone,
    Vince
    It makes sense for a native to use these expressions where indicated, and they commonly do, but the rule for foreigners should be to go overboard in trying to avoid the use of vulgar expression. These expresions are not likely to be taken offensively but they are very likely be taken as a lack of respect.
     

    aurilla

    Senior Member
    Am Eng/PR Spanish
    Nippur de Lagash said:
    I agree! "no tener madre" means de same as "ser un hijo de puta" (I apologize for the crude language) as far as I know, the second expresion can be said: "son of a bitch"
    I agree. It's an indirect way of saying the person never had the benefit of a decdent upbringing, because he/she had no mother to guide him/her; or had a bad mother, who neglected to instill in him/her values, morals and social graces. It's basically an insult.
     

    The more i try

    Member
    México DF hablo español estoy aprendiendo Ingles
    aurilla said:
    I agree. It's an indirect way of saying the person never had the benefit of a decdent upbringing, because he/she had no mother to guide him/her; or had a bad mother, who neglected to instill in him/her values, morals and social graces. It's basically an insult.
    thats right, in Mexico, (wich BTW the example is) means "you son of a bitch". which its basicly an insult.

    It's a lot more complicated than that, theres no literal translation, because of the culture.

    To explain it better: you'll never talk one single word, about the mother of someone in Mexico, not even jokeing, unless you want a fight.
     

    The more i try

    Member
    México DF hablo español estoy aprendiendo Ingles
    vince said:
    does "tener madre" exist in the positive sense as in "I have shame"?
    How about tener / no tener padre?
    i know that statment would make that confusion... in spanish we do never express colloquially to the father (there's no insult with "father"on it).

    there's just "Oye, eso esta padre". "Hey man that's cool". and "eso es padre" which means "i like that."
     

    ednalaura

    Senior Member
    usa
    mexico, spanish
    but even sometimes, friends are having fun and in having fun saying no tienes madre goes with the occasion without implying that the recipient did something wrong...
     

    ednalaura

    Senior Member
    usa
    mexico, spanish
    phrases involving either moms or dads, are taken depending the tone of voice and the situation. expressions vary with the country, and foreigners just have to listen first, then ask if it´s alright, then speak out those phrases they just learned...
     

    The more i try

    Member
    México DF hablo español estoy aprendiendo Ingles
    Jazztronik said:
    "Aquello fue la fiesta padre" -> "That party definitely rocked!"
    i agree with his explanation, except for this sentence.
    if you want to say "That party definitely rocked!".
    you may say: "Esa fiesta definitivamente fue genial".
    if you want to be rude:
    you may say: "Esa fiesta estubo de poca madre". speaking off the thread.
    if you want to be rude and really vulgar:
    you may say: "Esa pinche fiesta estuvo cabrona (o vergas -but this last one is extremly vulgar-) ". you may add "invitame a otra, no culero?". just if you're talking with a mexican dude.
     
    Mucho depende del contexto y enfasis que se le de a una expresión, personalmente no soy una persona que hecha muchas madres al hablar, dijeran aquí en mi tierra. Sin embargo no se debe dejar de tener en cuenta que es una manera informal de hablar aunque comun, vulgar. Y solo es valido en conversaciones muy informales o en ciertos casos para enfatizar algo haciendo uso de un vulgarismo y con personas que hablen así, pues puede ser ofensivo. Ademas, cuando no estas acostumbrado a hablar de esa forma, no siempre es bienvenido su uso, el otro dia use la palabra güey para referirme a alguien en una conversación entre amigos, pero todos me increparon, ahora ya le dice güey a fulanito, y esto es por que casi nunca me escuchan hablar así, auque mis amigos así lo hubieran dicho.
     

    The more i try

    Member
    México DF hablo español estoy aprendiendo Ingles
    ednalaura said:
    but even sometimes, friends are having fun and in having fun saying no tienes madre goes with the occasion without implying that the recipient did something wrong...
    she's right between friends (males), in Mexico almost all the people its very vulgar... for example:
    you can call your friend (male) "culero" that would be a hugh offense if you say it seriusly, and maybe even upset. but if you say it laughting and jokeing and you have the confidence with the person, you can do it.
     

    ednalaura

    Senior Member
    usa
    mexico, spanish
    bottom line... be careful when using these words, you don't know your audience. always ask if it's alright and apologize if it's not alright..., and when in doubt, remember that "calladita te ves mas bonita" (when quieter you look prettier)
     

    Eloisa Giseburt

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish- Mexico
    The more i try said:
    I agree with his explanation, except for this sentence.
    If you want to say "That party definitely rocked!".
    you may say: "Esa fiesta definitivamente fue genial".
    If you want to be rude:
    you may say: "Esa fiesta estuvo de poca madre". Speaking off the thread.
    If you want to be rude and really vulgar:
    you may say: "Esa pinche fiesta estuvo cabrona (o vergas -but this last one is extremly vulgar-) ". you may add "invitame a otra, no culero?". just If you're talking with a mexican dude.
    A small typo:)
     

    MuayThai

    Member
    Spanish & Spain
    In Spain it has a different meaning. It means "being arrogant". For example, If I say "I am beautiful and intelligent and the best..." somebody would reply "ella no tiene madre". The reason: mothers normally say to their children how wonderful they are. It is like, I am saying all those wonderful things about myself maybe because I have no mother telling me that.
    I hope it helps?
    But not rude, I mean, it is quite a "funny" phrase. If my sister says something like "how good I am at this!" I would laugh and say "y no tiene madre"
     
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