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Picador vs. Matador: What's the Difference?

By Janet White & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 28, 2024
A picador is a bullfighter on horseback who pricks the bull with a lance, while a matador is the main bullfighter who ultimately kills the bull in a bullfight.

Key Differences

A picador is an assistant to the matador, mounted on horseback and armed with a lance, whose role is to weaken the bull by piercing its neck muscles. This act reduces the bull's strength and lowers its head, making it easier for the matador to perform. The matador, on the other hand, is the star of the bullfight, responsible for the final act of confronting and killing the bull with a sword. The matador's performance is the climax of the bullfight and is judged for its bravery and skill.
The picador's role is crucial in setting up the bull for the matador by diminishing its power and preparing it for the final stage. This part of the bullfight involves skill in horseback riding and lance use. The matador's performance is highly artistic and involves intricate maneuvers with a red cape (muleta) to engage and dominate the bull before delivering the fatal blow.
While the picador's task is more functional and preparatory, the matador's role is the most celebrated and central, often determining the outcome and excitement of the bullfight. The matador receives the most recognition and is the focal point of the spectacle.

Comparison Chart


Weakens the bull with a lance
Confronts and kills the bull


Assistant bullfighter on horseback
Main bullfighter on foot


Lance (vara)
Sword (espada)

Performance Phase

Initial weakening of the bull
Final confrontation and kill


Less celebrated
Most celebrated and central figure

Skill Focus

Horseback riding and lance use
Artistic maneuvers and swordsmanship

Picador and Matador Definitions


A bullfighter responsible for diminishing the bull's strength.
By targeting the bull's neck muscles, the picador helps prepare it for the matador.


The principal bullfighter who kills the bull.
The matador stepped into the ring to face the bull for the final act.


A lance-wielding bullfighter in the early stages of a bullfight.
The crowd watched as the picador skillfully maneuvered his horse around the bull.


The star of a bullfight, celebrated for skill and bravery.
The matador received a standing ovation for his performance.


A horse-mounted bullfighter who uses a lance to weaken the bull.
The picador rode into the ring and aimed his lance at the bull’s neck.


A bullfighter who performs the concluding phase of a bullfight.
The matador’s precise thrust with the sword ended the bullfight.


An assistant to the matador in a bullfight.
The picador’s role is crucial in the initial stages of the bullfight.


A bullfighter who performs the final passes and kills the bull.


A participant in a bullfight on horseback.
The picador displayed exceptional control over his horse during the fight.


(Games) One of the highest trumps in certain card games.


A horseman in a bullfight who lances the bull's neck muscles so that it will tend to keep its head low for the later stages of the fight.


(bullfighting) The person whose aim is to kill the bull in a bullfight.


(bullfighting) A lancer mounted on horseback who assists a matador.
I saw the picador lance the bull.


(uncountable) A certain game of dominoes in which four dominoes (the 4-3, 5-2, 6-1, and double blank), called matadors, may be played at any time in any way.


A horseman armed with a lance, who in a bullfight receives the first attack of the bull, and excites him by picking him without attempting to kill him.


(card games) The jack of clubs, or any other trump held in sequence with it, in the game of skat.


The horseman who pricks the bull with a lance early in the bullfight to goad the bull and to make it keep its head low


(card games) One of the three chief cards in ombre and quadrille.


The killer; the man appointed to kill the bull in bullfights; a bullfighter; a toreador.


In the game of quadrille or omber, the three principal trumps, the ace of spades being the first, the ace of clubs the third, and the second being the deuce of a black trump or the seven of a red one.
When Lady Tricksey played a four,You took it with a matadore.


The jack of clubs, or any other trump held in sequence with it, whether by the player or by his adversaries.


A certain game of dominoes in which four dominoes (the 4-3, 5-2, 6-1, and double blank), called matadors, may be played at any time in any way.


The principal bullfighter who is appointed to make the final passes and kill the bull


The main performer in a bullfight, responsible for the bull’s death.
The matador's graceful movements with the muleta captivated the audience.


The bullfighter who engages directly with the bull and delivers the final blow.
With a swift motion, the matador struck the bull, completing the fight.


What is a picador in bullfighting?

A picador is a bullfighter on horseback who weakens the bull with a lance.

What weapons do picadors use?

Picadors use a lance, known as a vara.

What weapons do matadors use?

Matadors use a sword, known as an espada, and a red cape called a muleta.

What is the role of a matador?

The matador is the main bullfighter who confronts and kills the bull.

Is the picador's role dangerous?

Yes, the picador's role is dangerous as they are on horseback and close to the bull.

How does the picador contribute to the bullfight?

The picador weakens the bull by piercing its neck muscles, making it easier for the matador to perform.

Why is the matador more celebrated than the picador?

The matador's role is more central and dramatic, involving the final act of killing the bull, which is the climax of the bullfight.

Are picadors part of the matador's team?

Yes, picadors are part of the matador’s team and assist in the bullfight.

What part of the bullfight does the matador perform?

The matador performs the final part of the bullfight, which involves engaging and killing the bull.

What is the historical significance of the matador?

The matador is a central figure in the tradition of bullfighting, symbolizing bravery and artistry.

What skills are essential for a picador?

A picador must be skilled in horseback riding and using a lance.

What is the purpose of the picador’s lance?

The lance is used to weaken the bull by piercing its neck muscles.

What part of the bull does the matador target?

The matador targets the area between the bull’s shoulder blades to deliver the fatal blow.

What skills are essential for a matador?

A matador must have precision, bravery, and skill in using the sword and muleta.

How do picadors prepare the bull for the matador?

Picadors weaken the bull by targeting its neck muscles with a lance.

Does the matador perform alone in the ring?

The matador performs the final act alone, but other bullfighters, including picadors, participate earlier in the fight.

How is the success of a matador measured?

The success of a matador is measured by their skill, bravery, and the effectiveness of their final kill.

How do audiences typically respond to the picador’s performance?

Audiences generally appreciate the picador's skill but focus more on the matador’s performance.

Can a picador become a matador?

Yes, a picador can train and aspire to become a matador.

Why is the matador’s final act so significant?

The matador’s final act is significant because it is the culmination of the bullfight, showcasing the ultimate skill and bravery.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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