Places - Cuba's Region

Local Slang What?

Studied Spanish in high school, did you?  Well put your dictionary and your google translator away.  Even Siri can’t help with Cuban slang.  Habaneros are known for their quirky and catchy colloquialisms and phrases.  There are books on the subject!  They can carry on a whole conversation with what might sound like a language other than Castilian Spanish -- but the whole time they are actually speaking Spanish, -- like a Cuban.  We try to help you navigate the local lexicon with our little glossary of Cuban slang.  Believe us when we tell you that before you know, you’ll be hearing these phrases everywhere you go and guess what?  You’ll know what they mean!  Before you know it, you’ll be using them, too!

 

  1. ¿Que bola? This is by far one of the most popular Cuban phrases. Its most literal translation is "What's up?" It's very informal and typically used among friends.

          Ex.  "¿Oye que bola?" = "Hey, what's up?"

  1. Acere. If you look up acere in the Spanish dictionary, you'd be surprised to find that it means an assortment of smelly monkeys. However, Cubans employ it to say "friend."

          Ex.  "¿Acere, que bola?" = "Buddy, what's up?"

  1. Punto. Not to be confused with the direct translation, which is "period" (the kind that comes after your sentences), someone who is punto is a person who is weird and shady AF.

         Ex. "Ese es tremendo punto." = "He's a huge weirdo."

  1. Yuma. "La Yuma" is simply how Cubans refer to the United States.

          Ex.  "Mi primo esta en la Yuma." = "My cousin lives in the U.S."

  1. Pinchar. No, you're not pinching or poking anyone, as the literal translation suggests.Pinchar simply means to work.

          Ex.  "Estoy pinchando." = "I'm working."

  1. Tremendo paquete. Basically, the only feasible response when you are hearing about some heavy drama.

          Ex.  "Ay, tremendo paquete." = "Oh my god, SO. MUCH. DRAMA."

  1. Jamar. This one in particular can be used both as a verb — Jamar means to eat — and as a noun  (jama means food). And if you've ever lived in Cuba, you know the importance of jama.

          Ex.  "Tengo hambre; quiero jama." = "I am hungry and want food."

  1. Por la izquierda. It does not mean "to the left," but rather "under the table" in a figurative sense. (Generally, it means something shady is probably going down, but hey, no one's pointing fingers...)

          Ex. "Me estan pagando por la izquierda." = "They are paying me under the table."

  1. Tipo/a. It means "guy" or "girl," but the connotation is typically derogatory as well as condescending.

          Ex. "Ese tipo no sirve." = "That guy sucks."

  1. Dale. If you haven't heard someone say "¡dale!" you've probably been living under a rock, if for no other reason than Pitbull uses this phrase literally all the time. It's mainly used as a farewell greeting, but it can also mean "come on," or "hurry up."

          Ex. "Dale, vamos para la playa."  = "Come on, let's go to the beach."

  1. Tremendo mangon. Not to be confused as describing a "big mango," if someone says this to you, it means they think you're hot (like smokin' hot).

           Ex. "Ese hombre es tremendo mangon!" = "That guy is so hot!"