Vaca: cow.

Vacuna: having to do with cattle.

Valiente: courageous, brave.

Valla: wall or wooden fence or barrera.

Valor: courage, bravery, coolness. First quality a bullfighter must have.

Vaquero: caretaker or herder of fighting bulls on the ranch; cowboy, cowpuncher.

Vaquilla: small cow.

Vara: shaft; pic used in bullfighting.


Varetazo: blow by the flat of the bull’s horn; any horn stroke which does not wound. May be a serious bruise with internal hemmorhage or merely a scratch.

Ver llegar: to watch them come; the ability to watch the bull come as he charges with no thought except to calmly see what he is doing and make the moves necessary to the manoeuvre you have in mind. To calmly watch the bull come is the most necessary and primarily difficult thing in bullfighting.

Verg?enza: shame or honor; a sin verg?enza is a bullfighter without honor or shame — Qu? verg?enza! means what a shame or what a disgrace.

Veronica: pass with the cape so called because the cape was originally grasped in the two hands in the manner in which Saint Veronica is shown in religious paintings to have held the napkin with which she wiped the face of Christ. It has nothing to do with the man wiping the face of the bull as one writer on Spain has suggested. In making the veronica the matador stands either facing or profiled toward the bull with left leg slightly advanced and offers the cape which he holds with both hands having grasped the lower front corners of the cape where the corks are attached and raised them, bunching up the material so that he has a good hand hold with each hand, the fingers pointing down, the thumb up. As the bull charges the man awaits him until his horns lower to hook the cape at which instant the man moves the cape ahead of the bull’s charge with a suave movement of the arms, his arms held low, passing the bull’s head and his body past the man’s waist. He passes the bull out with the cape pivoting slightly on his toes or the balls of his feet as he does so and at the end of the pass, as the bull turns, the man is in position to repeat the pass his right leg slightly advanced this time, drawing cape ahead of the bull so that he passes by in the other direction. The veronica is tricked by the man making a sidestep as the bull charges to take him further away from the horns, by the man putting his feet together once the horn has passed and by the man leaning or stepping toward the bull once the horn has passed to make it look as though he had passed the horn close. A matador who is not faking the veronica will sometimes pass the bull so close that the horns will pick off the gold rosettes that ornament his jacket. Matadors, too, will sometimes cite the bull with both feet together and make a series of veronicas in this way with the feet as still as though the man were nailed to the ground. This can only be done with a bull that turns and recharges of his own accord and in a perfectly straight line. The feet must be slightly apart in making a bull pass and repass if the bull needs to be made to follow the swing of the cape at the end of the pass in order to turn. In any case the merit in the veronica is not determined by whether the feet are together or apart, but by whether they remain immobile from the moment of the charge until the bull has been passed and the closeness with which the man passes the horn by his body. The slower, suaver and lower the man swings the cape with his arms the better the veronica.

Viaje: voyage; the direction followed by the bull’s charge or by the man as he goes in to place banderillas or to kill.

Viento or aire: wind, the worst enemy of the bullfighter.

Vientre: belly; frequent site of horn wounds when the man is gored going in to kill through not being able to shrug his belly over the horn as he must in a really good estocade. Wounds here, and in the chest, are the most often fatal in bullfighting, not alone through the wound, but through the traumatic shock of the force of the blow received from head and horn. The most usual place for a horn wound is in the thigh, since it is there that the point, lowered as the bull charges, will first catch when it is raised to gore.

Vino: wine; Vino corriente is vin ordinaire or table wine; vino del pais is the local wine, always good to ask for; vino Rioja is wine of the Rioja region in the north of Spain; both red and white wines. The best are those of the Bodegas Bilba?nos, Marqu?s de Murrieta, Marqu?s de Riscal. Rioja Clarete, or Rioja Alta are the lightest and pleasantest of the red wines. Diamante is a good white wine with fish. Valdepenas is fuller bodied than Rioja, but is excellent in both white and rosee. The Spanish vintners produce Chablis and Burgundies that I cannot recommend. The Clarete Valdepenas is a very good wine. The table wines around Valencia are very good; those of Tarragona are better, but do not travel well. Galicia has good local table wine. In Asturias they drink cider. The local wines of Navarra are very good. For any one who comes to Spain thinking only in terms of Sherry and Malaga the splendid, light, dry, red wines will be a revelation. The vin ordinaire in Spain is consistently superior to that of France since it is never tricked or adulterated, and is only about a third as expensive. I believe it to be the best in Europe by far. They have no Grands Vins to compare with those of France.

Vista: clear perception; de mucha vista: having a great perception and knowledge of bullfighting.

Vividores: livers off of; chiselers; those parasites of bullfighting who make their living out of it without contributing anything to it. The Spanish chiseler will make a living where his Armenian or Greek brother would barely exist and where the good American chiseler would starve the Spanish chiseler will gain enough to retire.

Volapi?: flying while running; method of killing bulls invented by Joaquin Rodriguez (Costillares) at the time of the American Declaration of Independence from England to deal with those bulls which, because they were too worn out, could not be depended on to charge in order that they might be killed recibiendo, that is, by the man awaiting the charge and taking the bull on his sword. In the volapi? the man places the bull with his four feet squared; profiles at a short distance, the muleta held low in his left hand; sights along the sword which makes a prolongation of his forearm held across his chest, and goes in on the bull, his left shoulder forward, putting in the sword with his right hand between the bull’s shoulders; gives the bull his exit with the muleta in the left hand and sucking in his belly to avoid the right horn, exits from the encounter along the bull’s flank. Except that present-day matadors rarely go in close, at the moment of putting in the sword, and almost never arm themselves with the sword on a level with their chests, but instead sight along it anywhere from the level of their chins to above their noses the volapi? as described above and invented by Costillares is still the method of killing bulls used in modern times.

Volcar: to overturn or tumble; volcando sobre el morillo: is said of a matador who has gone in to kill so hard and sincerely that he has almost literally fallen forward onto the bull’s shoulders after the sword.

Voluntad: desire or good will; a matador is said to have shown buena voluntad when he has tried his best and if the result has been bad it has been because of the defectiveness of the bull or else the man’s incapacity rather than lack of intention.

Vuelta al ruedo: tour of the ring made by the matador at the insistence of the spectators to receive applause. He goes accompanied by his banderilleros who pick up and pocket cigars and pick up and throw back hats or other articles of clothing thrown down into the ring.