Synonyms for molestar

Synonyms for molestar are estorbar, no dejar, impedir, obstaculizar, obstruir, dificultar, entorpecer, poner trabas. We start by dividing this group into three:
  • Feeling verbs: molestar, estorbar
  • Verbs that are used with infinitive whose meaning is ‘not allow to do an action’: no dejar, impedir
  • Verbs that are used with a noun and they indicate ‘difficulties and hurdles’: obstaculizar, obstruir, dificultar, entorpecer
Molestar and estorbar are feeling verbs, and therefore, they don’t use direct object. They convey the idea that something bothers us, irritate us, not let us feel well. Molestar is a frequent verb ans it is used with all the kind of stimuli: a too bright light, children pranks, traffic lights, dentures, …  bother us. Estorbar, is only used with obstacles we perceive as an added difficulty to a goal or a situation. A flatmate, a too intrusive mother-in-law, or even clothes in a hot day can bother us. Existentially, bad memories or our own body can bother us too. You must remember that estorbar sounds more intense than molestar. Just imagine that you have prepared a romantic dinner with candles and, suddenly, you find that your roommate has returned from a journey and he asks:
              –Do I disturb? 
In this case, you would think: “¿Do you disturb? No, ¡you get on my way!”. Verbs such as impedir and no dejar has a obligatory direct object, i.e, either an infinitive or a noun dependent clause. They indicate that a action is not doable:
                 Mi madre no me deja salir = Mi madre no deja que salga = No permite que salga Las circunstancias me impiden
                 salir = Las circunstancias impiden que salga = No permiten que salga.

The only difference between these two verbs is the register: impedir is exclusively literary, whereas dejar is colloquial. Unlike the previous group, the direct object of the following verbs: obstaculizar, obstruir, dificultar y entorpecer can only be a noun. In the case of obstruir, you have to use a concrete noun. Dificultar and entorpecer are used with nouns meaning actions (processes, inquiries, measures …). The four verbs are part of a a literary register. Their meaning is as follows:

  • Obstaculizar means “put obstacles”, there are some objects or circumstances that don’t allow a process to develop in a normal way. It is the most general.
  • Obstruir means block, put some obstacles in some ways or conducts.
  • Dificultar means to add some difficulties, make a process more difficult. It is the most used.
  • Entorpecer means to make a process slower and more uncomfortable. It is the opposite of agilizar.


          Este camión obstruye el tráfico (no deja que pasen coches) Este camión obstaculiza el tráfico (no deja que pasen                       coches) Este camión entorpece el tráfico (lo hace más lento)

Impossible *dificulta el tráfico (no puede ser difícil)

Esta actitud obstaculiza la comunicación (no deja que fluya, que siga la comunicación) Esta actitud entorpece, dificulta la comunicación (hace la comunicación más incómoda, lenta o difícil)

Impossible Esta actitud *obstruye la comunicación (no es un objeto)

Authors / Georgy Nuzhdin, Paula Salgado Reig