English speakers may be surprised to learn that Spanish has a special-purpose verb meaning stay up late: desvelarse. It covers everything from merely staying up past your bedtime to staying up all night, whether intentionally or due to factors outside of your control: noise, insomnia, etc.

  • Ayer se desveló. Yesterday he got to bed rather late.
  • Nos desvelamos. We stayed up all night.

Desvelarse often includes the idea that you are sleepy as a result of having stayed up. However, it doesn’t work for sleepiness due to other factors.

The verb is usually used pronominally: an accompanying object pronoun (me, te, se, …) agrees in number and person with the subject: él se desveló.


The corresponding adjective is desvelado.

— ¿Te pasa algo?
— No, no me pasa nada. Simplemente estoy un poco desvelado.
(I’m just a bit sleepy from having gone to bed late.)

Desverlarse and desvelado are so commonly heard that you’ll wonder how you got along with them. Resist the urge to say, Tengo mucho sueño porque anoche dormí muy tarde. Just say, Es que ando desvelado. Simple.

One Reply to “Desvelado”

  1. I was looking up the word desvelados, because of the end credits of Modern Family (Familia Moderna), where the dubbing actors are shown. I have found meanings for desvelados like uncovered, revealed, disclosed, etc. Then I found this entry on your site as well. Just trying to decide the best translation for the word in the end credits on the show Modern Family. Thanks

    MRA: As always, context will determine which meaning is intended. If you’re working on improving your Spanish, don’t watch dubbing of English programming into Spanish. And don’t run to the dictionary for new words. Instead, watch original Spanish-language programming and focus on using the context to determine meaning. Good luck with your Spanish.

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