Jamelgo: what it means and its uses


In today's article let's talk about the term "nag". Throughout several articles we have been clarifying and learning terminology that applies to horses and that can sometimes lead to confusion. There are words like the one we are going to discuss that describe an animal in bad condition, and this is something to avoid. Although in colloquial environments it does not have to refer to something harmful.

Do we see what this term refers to?

Definition of Jamelgo

According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, the word jamelgo refers to a gangly looking horse, very skinny and bad looking. All this as a result of the animal not being properly fed.

The term jamelgo comes from the Latin word "famelicus" and whose meaning we can guess, without a doubt, thanks to another word derived from it that we have in the Spanish language: famélico. It is an adjective that is used to refer to someone or in this case an animal with signs of hunger such as being excessively thin.

Uses of the term

Jamelgo is often used as contemptuous way or when there is a lot of confidence, in a familiar way, when speaking of an equine. In the latter case, the animal does not have to look as bad as the word suggests.

We take this article to remember the importance of taking care of our animals and that they do not reach this state of malnutrition, something that goes beyond starvation or being hungry. Malnutrition causes numerous complications in the organs and also in the capacities of who suffers it. So a starving animal will have trouble moving and concentrating.

We must be aware that When acquiring an animal, it becomes our responsibility and we must provide him with the attention and care he needs according to his species, race, activity and circumstances.

Therefore, it is necessary to find out about the diet and essential vitamins and nutrients that this must have for our animals to have good health.

Jamelgo in literature

Throughout literature you can find characters that have been described both with the term starving and more specifically, horses defined or referred to with the word jamelgo. Of all these characters we are going to highlight and give an example to a well-known one: Rocinante, the famous horse of Don Quixote de la Mancha. What's more, the very name of this equine comes from playing with a synonym for nag: nag. As Miguel de Cervantes expressed himself well in the following fragment of his novel: «He came to call him Rocinante, a name in his opinion tall, sonorous and meaningful of what he had been when he was rocín, before what he was now [...]«.

Don Quixote horse
Related article:
Rocinante, Don Quixote's horse


Synonyms of Jamelgo

As with many words, 'jamelgo' has several synonyms that can be used with a similar meaningAmong them, perhaps the most relevant or most used are the following:


In reference to a small horse, mean, scrawny and even considered a bad horse. This word comes from the term 'jackfruit'.

Matalón or matalona

Skinny, puny, and full of kills. Kills are sores or they can also be wounds, which are produced by a continuous and repetitive rubbing or a blow. In horses it is the type of injury that appears from rubbing the rig.


It can refer to plants, people or horses. But focusing on the last thing that interests us, it refers to a skinny and bad-looking horse.


This term is used with two meanings in the equine world. On the one hand to refer to the work horses. On the other hand, it refers to small horses, of little height and considered of bad breed. It is also used for horses with a bad appearance, old and that shows that they have worked a lot, leaving them weak and withered. Let's remember Rocinante whom we talked about a moment ago.


Most of these words that we are seeing are used in a mocking and satirical tone or in a colloquial environment to refer to horses.

Other words from the equine world that may interest you

There are various terms that are applied to equines and that can be used in different ways according to the oral traditions of each area. Some of these words have been previously discussed on this web page, such as:

The terms I tweet and I paint they refer to the same type of spotted coat, but depending on the geographical area one or the other term is used and even in some areas they make small differentiations between both terms.

We also talked about terminology pony, ponies and horses and what they define.

If you are curious about these terms, do not hesitate to read the articles we have about the equines to which they refer.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it.

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