Dominican Spanish 101: Your guide to understand the language during your visit.
Para leer este artículo en español presione aquí.
Hey “Doña”, have you seen this “fresco”? I will give a “boche” to this “tigre” so he learns to be “un chin” more subtle? Oh yes, you have just read not only a wonderful piece of “spanglish” but a list of terms that you will not find in any Spanish dictionary or book, at least not with the meaning they would have when you say it to a Dominican person.
The Dominican Spanish has been influenced by various episodes of the Dominican history such as the US occupation at the beginning of the 1900’s , the 60’s and the Haitian domination during the 19th century. It’s not that the Spanish vocabulary is not enough for the Dominican people and they have to make up new words, it’s that their history has been marked by so many events that the language is just a reflection of them. That’s how you find Dominicans “coloring” the words to give them a new meaning. Living in Santo Domingo would not be the same if you don’t get to now the true meaning of the everyday spoken Spanish.
This is just a small guide of words and expressions for you to keep at all times with you while you visit our city and of course the rest of the country. If you find that they might have another meaning, we invite you to write a comment or send us an email. We also encourage you to add some more to the list!
Aficiao : Deeply in love to the extent of being “asfixiated” by love
Agallú: A person who wants to have everything and more
Ajumao: Drunk person
Allantar: To kid someone or make somebody believe something
Apero as in “Qué apero”: Cool (How cool!)
Aplatanado: A person who has already absorbed the Dominican culture by living a long time in the Dominican Republic
Asaroso: Someone who brings bad luck
Buquí: A person that eats a lot
Caliente, as in “Tu tá caliente”: You are in trouble.
Chin: A bit, A little (As in “Dame un chin” – “Give a little bit”)
China as in “Me la pusiste en China”: You are making it difficult for me.
China as in the fruit: Orange
Chinola: Passion fruit
Colmado: Small version of a supermarket.
Concho: Public transportation car that make 7 people fit in a 5 people vehicle. Please read our blog about Public Transportation.
Conuco: Small piece of land used to cultivate
Cuarto’ o Cualto’ as in “No tengo cuarto” o cualto: Money
Don: Mr. – It’s also used alone as in: Cómo está Don? – How are you Mr.?
Doña /Donia/: Mrs. (Same use as with Don)
Fiebrú: A person that is really keen on or fond of something.
Guapo(a) as in “Toy guapo”: Angry
Mime: Small mosquito
Motoconcho: Motorcycle that serves as public transportation. Please read our blog about Public Transportation.
Pasola: Small motorcycle
Pelele: Dumb or idiot
Quillao or Quillá as in “Toy quillao”: Angry
Tigre: Buddy or if used as in “Tu ere’un tigre”: Astute
Tolete: Different to the common Spanish concept of Tolete, in the DR it’s used to describe an impressive person as in “Tolete’ hembra”
Una fría as in “Dame una fría” o “Sírveme una fría”: Very cold beer
Voladora: Similar to a “guagua” or bus. Please read our blog about Public Transportation.
Zafacón: Trash can.
Some Dominican words that might have their roots in the English language:
Baguada From Bad Weather: Storm
Boche from Bull Shit (As in “Me echaron un boche”): To be reprimanded
Bonche from Bunch: Party
Cachú: Ketchup or if said as in: “Eto e’un cachú” : This is very easy
Colín from the toolmaker Collins & Co: Machete
Gillé from the brand Gillette: Razor
Pamper from the brand Pampers: Pamper
Pariguayo from Party watcher*: A dumb person
Poloché from Polo Shirt: Polo style shirt
Tichel from T-Shirt: T-Shirt
Yanikeke from Johnny Cake: Flat fried cornbread (Variation from the original northamerican recipe of the Johny Cakes
Yipeta from Jeep (Main transportation of GI’s during the 60’s): Jeep-like vehicle
* They say that during the occupation of US military in the DR, while attending a party, some of the militaries wouldn’t dance or do anything at the party but watch others and they where called Party Watchers = Pariguayos.
And some of the expressions that you will find in your way:
Cómo ta’ la cosa?: How are things going?
Como tu ta?: How are you?
Cortar los ojos: To give a bad look to someone
Qué lo’qué?: What’s up?
Que tu ta’ciendo?: What are you doing?
Sacar los pies: To avoid someone as in “Tú me tá sacando lo’ pié”: You are avoiding me
Te llamo pa’trá: I will call you back
Tú sabe’: Same use as the “You know” expression in English
Tú ta caliente: You are in trouble (Usually with someone as in : Tú ta caliente con papi – You are in trouble with your dad)
Tú ta pasao: You crossed the line
This is just a sample of a greater list of words and expressions. We hope you have enjoyed it and find it useful while you are visiting this beautiful country.
Relocation Specialist | RE/MAX Líder