The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
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.
Embarazada – pregnant. Easy to remember, 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: From Acapulco to Zihuatanejo, 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!