The limits of my language means the limits of my world. 
– Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

aprendiendo español Siempre is the Spanish word for “always.” Nunca is the Spanish word for “never.” Learning a second (or third) language always opens doors to places you’ve never been. Here are some favorite and not-so-favorite Spanish words:

Avergonzado – embarrassed. A good word to use after you apologize for asking a man if he is embarazada

Berejena – eggplant. A fun word to say: “kh” the j, a tricky sound in Spanish

Bienvenidos – welcome. A beautiful word that spills from the mouth easily.

Camarista – housekeeper. A good word to know in a hotel. Cama means bed, rista means of an organization or occupation. Be sure to tip well!

Desafortunadamente – unfortunately.  A long, tongue-twisty word, eloquent when said with intent.

– pregnant. A favorite not only for its unusual pronunciation, but because it sounds like “embarrassed.”

Naranja – orange (fruit and color). Often difficult for a new speaker to pronounce. ¡No me gusta la palabra naranja!

Rico – rich, expensive, or delicious.  May also be used as a lover’s term for sensual. Roll the rrr at the beginning, to add a little spice.

Costeño slang: From the coast of Colombia come these challenging and unique words

A la Orden – “at your service,” Colombians say this for many things, when ordering in a restaurant, or complimenting someone’s jewelry. So does that mean I can wear your necklace? Thanks, lady!

Antojitos – little things that you crave. Often found on menus as appetizers.

Bacano – cool. Often used to describe people, or something you own, like Restaurante Bacano

Chevére – really great! A fun word to say about nearly anything, from a good time to an article of clothing

Crispeta – popcorn. Very different from the Méxican way to say popcorn, it sounds like a breakfast cereal.

Cucayo – sticky burned rice from the bottom of the pot. A delicacy to some! In Bogotá, it’s pega, meaning “stuck”

Mazorca – fat corn. Big pieces of chunky corn on or off the cob, often grilled until brown and crisp.

Merienda – a snack between breakfast and lunch, like a second breakfast, so you don’t faint from extreme hunger

Regalame – “gift me” not a wrapped present, more like “give me.” Guys say, “regalame tu numero de telefono.” Simple and direct

Méxican slang, more than just arriba and adios!

Abarotte – a small tienda, or corner store, independently owned, that may sell everything from candy to beer to diapers

Botanos – complimentary snacks served in bars with drinks, ranging from hot dog slices to olives to palomitas (popcorn)

Cawama – giant bottles of beer that you return to the aborotte in exchange for a few pesos off the next one

Chattara – junk food; snacks like chips or duritos (wheel shaped rice crisps), often served with hot sauce and límon

Garrafont – large, exchangeable, plastic: 20 liter bottles of drinking water, common in most households

¡Hijole! – excited expression for “alright!” or “oh boy!” may also mean “Son of a …!” (excitement, not insult)

¡Orale! – literally translates as “Pray to Him,” means OK or understood, often in exclamation

Palomitas de Maiz – popcorn translates literally to “small doves of corn.” A lovely way to say my favorite food!


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