How Do You Say “Mothball” In Spanish?

Expanding your knowledge and learning a new language is a great way to broaden your horizons and gain a new perspective on the world. Whether you plan to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, communicate with Spanish-speaking relatives, or simply challenge yourself to learn something new, learning Spanish is a valuable and rewarding experience.

One common household item that you may come across in Spanish-speaking countries or while conversing with Spanish speakers is the humble mothball. In Spanish, mothballs are known as “bolitas de naftalina.”

How Do You Pronounce The Spanish Word For “Mothball”?

Learning to properly pronounce a foreign word can be a daunting task, but it’s important to do so in order to communicate effectively with native speakers. The Spanish word for “mothball” is “naftalina,” which is pronounced as “nahf-tah-LEE-nah.”

Phonetic Breakdown Of “Naftalina”

Breaking down the word into individual sounds can help with proper pronunciation:

Sound Phonetic Spelling
n nah
f ft
t tah
l lee
n nah
a ah

Tips For Pronunciation

  • Practice each sound individually before putting them together
  • Pay attention to the stress on the second syllable (tah-LEE-nah)
  • Listen to native speakers and try to mimic their pronunciation
  • Use online resources, such as pronunciation videos or audio recordings, to hear the word pronounced correctly

Proper Grammatical Use Of The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

Grammar is an essential aspect of any language, including Spanish, and it plays a crucial role in the proper use of words such as “mothball.”

Placement Of Mothball In Sentences

In Spanish, the word for “mothball” is “naftalina.” It is a noun that can be used in a variety of sentence structures depending on the context. Typically, it is used as a direct object or the subject of a sentence.

For instance:

  • Direct object: “Ella colocó la naftalina en el armario.” (She placed the mothball in the closet.)
  • Subject: “La naftalina es un repelente natural de polillas.” (Mothballs are a natural moth repellent.)

Verb Conjugations Or Tenses

When using “naftalina” in a sentence, there are no specific verb conjugations or tenses that apply. It is a noun that does not change depending on the verb tense.

Agreement With Gender And Number

Like all Spanish nouns, “naftalina” has gender and number. It is a feminine noun, and its singular and plural forms are “la naftalina” and “las naftalinas,” respectively.

For example:

  • Singular: “La naftalina está en la caja.” (The mothball is in the box.)
  • Plural: “Las naftalinas son efectivas para repeler polillas.” (Mothballs are effective in repelling moths.)

Common Exceptions

There are no common exceptions to the use of “naftalina” in Spanish. However, it is worth noting that some Spanish-speaking countries may have regional variations in their vocabulary, so it is always helpful to check with a native speaker or a reputable source.

Examples Of Phrases Using The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

When learning a new language, it’s helpful to not only learn individual words but also common phrases. One such word that may come in handy is “mothball” or “bolita de naftalina” in Spanish. Let’s take a look at some examples of phrases that include this word:


  • “Poner una bolita de naftalina en el armario” – To put a mothball in the closet
  • “Oler a bolita de naftalina” – To smell like mothballs
  • “Sacar las bolitas de naftalina del cajón” – To take the mothballs out of the drawer
  • “Guardo mi ropa de invierno con bolitas de naftalina” – I store my winter clothes with mothballs

As you can see, these phrases are quite practical and can be used in everyday conversation. Let’s take a closer look at how they can be used in sentences:


  • “Voy a poner una bolita de naftalina en el armario para evitar que las polillas coman mi ropa.” (I’m going to put a mothball in the closet to prevent moths from eating my clothes.)
  • “Mi abuela siempre guardaba sus vestidos de seda con bolitas de naftalina para protegerlos.” (My grandmother always stored her silk dresses with mothballs to protect them.)
  • “No soporto el olor a bolita de naftalina en el armario de mi abuela.” (I can’t stand the smell of mothballs in my grandmother’s closet.)

Now, let’s take a look at some example Spanish dialogue using the word “bolita de naftalina”:


Person 1: ¿Tienes alguna idea de cómo evitar que las polillas coman mi ropa?

Person 2: Sí, puedes poner bolitas de naftalina en el armario. Es muy efectivo.


Person 1: Do you have any ideas on how to prevent moths from eating my clothes?

Person 2: Yes, you can put mothballs in the closet. It’s very effective.

Person 1: ¿Por qué huele a bolita de naftalina en tu ropa?

Person 2: Lo siento, acabo de sacar mis suéteres del cajón donde tenía bolitas de naftalina.


Person 1: Why does your clothes smell like mothballs?

Person 2: I’m sorry, I just took my sweaters out of the drawer where I had mothballs.

More Contextual Uses Of The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

Understanding the various contexts in which a word is used is essential to mastering a language. The Spanish word for mothball is no exception. In this section, we will explore the different contexts in which the word can be used, from formal to informal, slang to idiomatic expressions, and even cultural or historical uses.

Formal Usage Of Mothball

In formal settings, such as academic or professional settings, the word for mothball in Spanish is often used in its literal sense. The correct term for mothball is “naftalina,” which comes from the chemical compound naphthalene that is found in mothballs. This formal usage of the word is typically reserved for scientific or technical contexts, such as in chemistry or biology.

Informal Usage Of Mothball

On the other hand, in everyday conversations, the word “bolita de naftalina” is more commonly used to refer to mothballs. This informal usage is often heard in households, where mothballs are used to repel moths and other insects from clothes and linens.

Other Contexts

Mothball is also used in other contexts, such as slang, idiomatic expressions, or cultural/historical uses. For instance, in some Latin American countries, the word “naftalina” is used to refer to something that is outdated or no longer in use, similar to the English expression “old-fashioned.”

Additionally, in Spain, the word “naftalina” is sometimes used as a metaphor for something that is hidden or kept secret, as mothballs are often placed in drawers or closets to keep things hidden or protected.

Popular Cultural Usage

Finally, in popular culture, the word “naftalina” has been used in different ways. In the Spanish-language television series “La Casa de Papel,” which has gained international popularity, one of the characters uses the word “naftalina” to refer to someone who is old-fashioned or out of touch with modern times.

Overall, the Spanish word for mothball has a variety of uses and meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Understanding these different contexts can help learners of the language to better communicate and understand the nuances of the Spanish language.

Regional Variations Of The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

Just like any other language, Spanish has its own regional variations and nuances. One such variation is the word used for “mothball.” While the basic meaning remains the same, the word used to describe it can differ from country to country.

Spanish Word For Mothball In Different Spanish-speaking Countries

In Spain, the word for mothball is “naftalina.” However, in Latin American countries, it can vary. For instance, in Mexico, mothballs are known as “bolitas de naftalina” or simply “naftalina.” In some countries, the word “bolita” is used instead of “naftalina.”

In Argentina, mothballs are referred to as “bolitas de alcanfor” or simply “alcanfor.” In Colombia, they are known as “bolitas de cedro” or “bolitas de alcanfor.” In Chile, “bolitas de naftalina” or “bolitas de alcanfor” are used.

It’s important to note that while the word for mothball may differ, the product itself is widely available in all Spanish-speaking countries.

Regional Pronunciations

Along with different words for mothball, there are also variations in regional pronunciations. For example, in Spain, “naftalina” is pronounced as “naf-ta-LEE-na,” while in Mexico, it’s pronounced as “naf-ta-LEE-nah.” In Argentina, “bolitas de alcanfor” is pronounced as “bo-LEE-tas de al-KAN-for.”

These regional variations in pronunciation add to the diversity and richness of the Spanish language.

Other Uses Of The Spanish Word For “Mothball” In Speaking & Writing

While the Spanish word for “mothball” is commonly used to refer to the small, pungent balls used to repel moths from clothing and other textiles, it can also have other meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Here are some of the other uses of the word, along with tips on how to distinguish between them:

1. As A Verb

In some Spanish-speaking countries, the word “mothball” can be used as a verb to describe the act of abandoning or shelving a project or idea for a period of time. For example, if someone says “Voy a guardar eso en naftalina por un tiempo” (I’m going to mothball that for a while), they mean that they are going to put the project on hold temporarily.

To distinguish this use of the word from its more common meaning, pay attention to the context in which it is used. If the speaker is talking about a project or idea rather than clothing or textiles, it is likely that they are using “mothball” as a verb.

2. As An Adjective

Another use of the word “mothball” in Spanish is as an adjective to describe something that is old-fashioned or outdated. For example, if someone says “Esa casa está muy naftalina” (That house is very mothball), they mean that the house looks like it hasn’t been updated in decades.

To distinguish this use of the word from others, listen for adjectives or adverbs that describe the object being talked about. If the speaker is using “mothball” to describe the appearance or condition of something, it is likely that they are using it as an adjective.

3. As A Metaphor

Finally, the word “mothball” can also be used metaphorically in Spanish to describe something that is being preserved or protected from harm. For example, if someone says “Ella tiene a sus hijos en naftalina” (She has her children in mothballs), they mean that she is very protective of her children and keeps them safe from harm.

To distinguish this use of the word from others, look for clues in the context of the sentence. If the speaker is using “mothball” to describe the protection or preservation of something, it is likely that they are using it as a metaphor.

Common Words And Phrases Similar To The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

When it comes to finding words and phrases similar to the Spanish word for “mothball”, there are a few options that can be used interchangeably. One of the most common phrases used is “bola de naftalina”. This translates directly to “naphthalene ball” in English, which is the active ingredient in mothballs.

Another phrase that can be used is “bolita de alcanfor”. This phrase translates to “camphor ball” in English. While camphor is not the same as naphthalene, it is often used in similar ways to repel moths and other insects.

It’s important to note that both of these phrases are used similarly to “mothball” in that they are small, round objects that are used to repel insects and keep clothing and other items fresh. They are typically placed in closets, drawers, or other storage areas to keep moths and other insects away.


While there are no direct antonyms for the Spanish word for “mothball”, there are a few words and phrases that are related to the opposite of mothballs. One such word is “perfume”, which is used to describe a pleasant scent that is often added to clothing and other items to make them smell nice.

Another word that is related to the opposite of mothballs is “mildew”. Mildew is a type of fungus that can grow on clothing and other items if they are not stored properly. Using mothballs or other insect repellents can help prevent the growth of mildew.

Common Words and Phrases Similar to The Spanish Word for “Mothball”
Word/Phrase Translation Usage
Bola de naftalina Naphthalene ball Used to repel insects and keep clothing fresh
Bolita de alcanfor Camphor ball Used to repel insects and keep clothing fresh

Mistakes To Avoid When Using The Spanish Word For “Mothball”

When learning a new language, it’s common to make mistakes. Spanish, like any language, has its own set of challenges for non-native speakers. One of these challenges is the correct use of the word “mothball.”

Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes made by non-native speakers when using the Spanish word for “mothball:”

  • Using the word “mota” instead of “bolita de naftalina”
  • Mixing up the gender of the word “bolita”
  • Using the word “bolita de polilla” instead of “bolita de naftalina”
  • Using the word “bolita de cedro” instead of “bolita de naftalina”

Tips To Avoid These Mistakes

To avoid these mistakes, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Remember that the correct word for “mothball” in Spanish is “bolita de naftalina.”
  2. Pay attention to the gender of the word “bolita.” It’s feminine, so use feminine articles and adjectives.
  3. Avoid using other words like “mota,” “polilla,” or “cedro” to refer to “mothballs.”
  4. If you’re unsure about the correct word to use, ask a native speaker or consult a reliable Spanish-English dictionary.


In this blog post, we have discussed the Spanish translation of the English word “mothball.” We have explored the different ways to say mothball in Spanish, including “bolita de naftalina,” “bolita de alcanfor,” and “bolita de cedro.” We have also discussed the differences between these translations and their usage in different Spanish-speaking regions.

Furthermore, we have provided some context and background information on mothballs, including their history, chemical composition, and common uses. We have also highlighted some of the potential dangers and risks associated with using mothballs, such as toxicity and environmental harm.

Encouragement To Practice And Use Mothball In Real-life Conversations.

Learning a new language can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By expanding your vocabulary and mastering new words and phrases, you can open up new opportunities for communication, travel, and personal growth.

If you are interested in using the word “mothball” in your Spanish conversations, we encourage you to practice and incorporate it into your daily interactions. Whether you are chatting with a friend, ordering food at a restaurant, or exploring a new city, using new words and phrases can help you connect with others and deepen your understanding of different cultures.

So go ahead and try out “bolita de naftalina,” “bolita de alcanfor,” or “bolita de cedro” in your next Spanish conversation. Who knows, you might just impress your friends and learn something new in the process!

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority and He’s a seasoned innovator, harnessing the power of technology to connect cultures through language. His worse translation though is when he refers to “pancakes” as “flat waffles”.