(redirected from Bull-fighting)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


national sport and spectacle of Spain. Called the corrida de toros in Spanish, the bullfight takes place in a large outdoor arena known as the plaza de toros. The object is for one of the bullfighters (toreros)—the matador—to kill a wild bull, or toro, with a sword.

A modern bullfight consists of three stylized parts (tercios). When the bull enters the ring, toreros wave capes to prod it to charge; then the picadors administer pic (lance) thrusts, which tire the animal and cause him to lower his head; in the second part, the banderilleros come out and, while on the run, plant banderillas (short barbed sticks) on the withers of the bull; these often spur him into making livelier charges. In the final segment the matador—almost always a man, although some women have entered the sport in recent decades, amid controversy—holds the muleta, a small cloth cape, in one hand, and a sword in the other. Daring passes at the bull work to dominate the animal until it stands with feet square on the ground and head hung low; the matador must then approach the bull from the front and kill him by thrusting his sword between the shoulder blades and into the heart. A matador's performance requires great skill and courage, and successful matadors reap immense awards in money and adulation. Fighting bulls are bred and selected for spirit and strength.

The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete practiced bull leaping as part of religious ritual, and later Greeks and Romans also had rites that involved the slaughter of bulls. The Moors, who fought bulls from their horses and killed them with javelins, probably introduced the sport to Spain (c.11th cent.). Originally the central figure in the Spanish bullfight was the mounted torero; Francisco Romero is generally credited with being the first (c.1726) to fight on foot. Bullfighting is also popular in the Latin American countries of Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, and in S France. The Portuguese practice a style of fighting from horseback in which the bull is not killed in the ring. Critics contend that bullfighting is an inhumane spectacle of animal torture; aficionados respond that it is a complex ritual central to Spanish culture. The Canary Islands outlawed bullfighting in 1991, and Catalonia did the same in 2010 (effective 2012), but Catalonia's ban was overturned by Spain's constitutional court in 2016.


See A. Bollain et al., Bulls and Bullfighting (1970); E. Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (1932, repr. 1971); B. Schoenfeld, The Last Serious Thing: A Season at the Bullfights (1992); A. L. Kennedy, On Bullfighting (2001).



(Spanish, corrida de toros; literally, “the running of the bulls”), Spanish national spectacle, the origin of which is associated with the ancient cult of the bull on the Iberian peninsula.

Duels with bulls were prevalent in Spain as early as the 11th century. In the Middle Ages, only nobles on horseback, armed with spears, participated in bullfights. The bullfight assumed its contemporary form of a circus spectacle with professional performers—the toreros—in the early 18th century. The group of participants in the bullfight consists of 12 to 14 people. The main figure is the matador (espada), who kills the bull with a deft thrust of the sword in the withers. Other toreros assist the matador. Some tease the bull with bright capes; others (the mounted picadors) irritate the bull with lances; and others plunge small, irritating harpoons (banderillas) into the animal’s neck. Bullfights are held in Portugal, southern France, and Latin American countries (since the 16th century, after European colonization), as well as in Spain.


Sadomskaia, N. N. “U poroga korridy.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1969, no. 6.
Cossio, J. M. de. Los toros: Tratado técnico e histórico, vols. 1–3. Madrid, 1951–53.
References in periodicals archive ?
Perhaps the EEC should sponsor the bull-fighting business not to kill bulls.
Cubero and Carrasco also add to our sense of the politics of bull-fighting, the consignment of women to rural arenas and contests with inadequate bulls, as well as the implicit chauvinism of male bull-fighters like Enrico Ponce who says, probably with no malice intended, "the physical strength just isn't the same.
6 metres from a holding pen to the city s bull-fighting ring in a very quick two minutes 29 seconds.
For, although he loves locking horns with the Premier League's toughest markers, the big Norwegian has a gentler side and hated Spanish bull-fighting.
Dublin waitress Sinead Hayes, 21, said: "We will be delivering a very important message that bull-running and bull-fighting are cruel and unnecessary.
All we know about Mr Berry is that he enjoyed bull-fighting and played the ukulele.
The blood sports room is the most controversial - with graphic film of bear-baiting, fox-hunting, bull-fighting and hare-coursing.
A SCOTS grandad has been gored in the head at a bull-fighting festival in Spain - a year after he was hurt at the same event.
But its sleepy, relaxed cafe culture is a world away from a Saturday night in Cardiff or Swansea and the city has the longest tradition of bull-fighting in France.
One reason he likes Spain is that he loves bull-fighting.
TWO Midland women are to run through the streets of Spain NAKED in a protest against bull-fighting.
Stelios is introduced by some bull-fighting music and this week dresses up in a white judo suit to tackle the problem with a combination of New Age mumbo-jumbo and Post-it notes.