Cuban Slang: Spanish From The Streets Of Havana

Cuban Slang

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Cuba may be known for rum, salsa dancing, cigars and much more, but in the post, we want to explore our favourite Cuban slang that you’ll likely to hear if you ever visit this unique Caribbean island.

This post is the latest in our series on Spanish slang that you should be familiar with.

Make sure to also read our posts on:

For now, we return to exploring the very best slang you need to speak like a true Cubano.

1. Acere

If there’s a Cubano around, then you’ll hear this word being used as a replacement for  “friend” or “buddy”

  • Bueno acere, vámonos – Hey buddy, let´s go!

2. Que bolá

If you want to know, what’s going on with your friend, just ask  “¿qué bolá?”

  • Acere, ¿que bolá? – What´s up, buddy?

3. Guagua

Cuban slang (but also found in other Latin American countries) as a name for “bus”.

  • Vamos a agarrar la guagua para ir a la playa – Let’s take the bus to go to the beach

4. Guarachar

Have you ever heard about the famous Cuban singer Celia Cruz? Well, she was the queen of the Guaracha. So, if you feel like going to a party, you can use Guarachar.

  • Hay una guaracha esta noche – There’s a party tonight
  • ¿Qué vas a hacer esta noche? ¡Voy a guarachar! – What are you going to do tonight? I’m going to party!

5. Botella

To give someone a ride.

  • Dame la botella hasta mi casa por favor – Please, give me the ride to my house

6. Gao / Gabeto

Cuban slang for “home”.

  • Voy camino al gao – I’m on my way home

7. Caballito

As with most Latin American countries, most locals prefer to use slang to describe the police. In Cuba, they use caballito as a word for a policeman on a motorcycle.

  • Ahí vienen los caballitos, mejor nos vamos de aquí – Here it comes the police, we better get out of here

8. Yuma

If you are not from Cuba, you are just a yuma. Don’t take any offense to this, but this is Cuban slang for all foreigners.

  • Se nota que eres yuma, no parece que seas de aquí – I can tell that you are not from here. You’re a foreigner.

9. Botero

Another name for a taxi man or woman.

  • Llama al botero, para que nos lleve al hotel – Call the taxi driver, so he can take us back to the hotel

10. Almendrón

Cuban slang for those old cars from the 1950s that you’ll see if you ever visit Cuba.

  • Mi botero en Cuba, tiene un almendrón muy bonito – My taxi driver in Cuba, has a  very nice old car
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11. Está volado

When something is really really good, they use this phrase: está volao. It’s another way to say that something is mindblowing.

  • La Guaracha estuvo volada – The party was mind blowing

12. En candela

When a person is having a hard time, or a situation is not looking good at all, then something is en candela, which literally means being burned.

  • ¿Está todo bien contigo? Pareces en candela – Is everything okay with you? You look like you were burned

13. Tirar un cabo

A “cabo” can be many things, but is also a long object, like a rope. And in this case, tirar un cabo is like throwing a rope, or giving a hand. And this word it’s used to say that you are helping someone.

  • Voy a casa de mi amigo a tirarle un cabo – I’m going to my friends house to give him a hand

14. Jamar un cable

“Jamar” means to eat with an appetite, and so this phrase literally translates as “eating cables,  which is used to describe being broke, out of money, or out of work (or maybe all three).

  • Estoy jamando un cable. No puedo salir esta noche. – I’m eating cables. I can’t go out tonight

15. Embullarse

A verb that means to cheer up, or to be really excited about something.

  • Estoy embullado por la llegada de mis amigos. – I’m really excited by the arrival of my friends

16. Me resbala

Literally means that something slips or slides from you, but is used to express not caring about something.

  • Me resbala lo que piensen ellos de mí – I don’t care what they think about me

17. Paladar

In Cuban slang, it would be boring to use regular vocab for a restaurant, or a cafe…instead, the locals will use paladar to describe a place where you go to drink and eat like there’s no tomorrow.

  • Vamos a comer algo en el paladar de la esquina – Let´s eat something at the restaurant on the corner

18. Buscar balas

This translates as: to find bullets.

However, the translation isn’t what you think. This phrase is used when you are out of money, and you need to find work to get some money ie. you are “buscando balas”.

  • Estoy jamando un cable. Voy a trabajar este fin de semana para buscar balas. – I’m out of money. I am going to work these weekend, so I can get some money

19. Monstruo

This translates as “monster”, but in Cuba, and some other Spanish speaking countries, you can use the word monster to describe someone is really good at what they do.

  • Esa mujer es un monstruo bailando. – That woman is a dancing monster

20. Desmaya esa talla

The exact translation would be something like “faint that size”, which obviously makes no sense at all. This is a Cuban slang phrase used when someone wants to forget about something that happened before, a bad experience, a broken heart, an embarrassing situation, etc.

  • Desmaya esa talla mujer, ese hombre no era bueno para ti. –  Forget about it woman, that man wasn’t good for you

21. Me piro

If you want to go, don’t say that boring word ” I wanna go” … just say me piro.

  • Me piro, tengo que ir al gao. – I’m out of here, I have to go home

22. La pincha

La pincha is Cuban slang for the place where you work.

  • Me piro, tengo que ir a la pincha. – I’m out of here, I have to go to the work

23. Bembelequero

Bembelequero comes from the word “bemba”, which refers to the mouth or lips. The Cuban slang version is used to describe people who gossip a lot.

  • No me gusta estar con ellos porque son muy bembelequeros – I don’t like hanging out with them because they are very gossip people

24. ¡Qué fula!

When something is ugly, disgusting or not nice… you just say qué fula!

  • ¡Ese hombre se vistió fula! – That man dressed badly

25. Surnar

A verb that expresses to have a “deep sleep”.

  • Estoy cansada, necesito surnar – I’m tired, I need to have a deep sleep.

26. Frutabomba

Frutabomba is Cuban slang for papaya (the fruit).

I know what you’re thinking…why not just call it “papaya”?

Because “papaya” in Cuba means lady parts. Be careful, Spanish students.

  • ¿Podrías darme un jugo de frutabomba por favor? – Can I have a papaya juice please?

27. Mantén tu latón con tapa

The direct translation of this is “keep your can closed”, but in Cuban slang it is a phrase to tell people to seal their lips, when you tell them something important or a secret.

  • Te voy a contar un secreto, pero tienes que mantener tu tapa con latón – I’m going to tell you a secret but you need to keep your lips sealed

28. Nos pillamos

In Cuba, “pillarse” means that you will see someone later, or, see you later.

  • Nos pillamos ahora en el gao. – See you later at home

29. Tu maletín

A nice way to say “your problem”.

  • Lo siento, pero ese es tu maletín. – I’m sorry, but that’s your problem

30. Comemierda

And finally, this has to be the most popular and common word.

When you translate it directly, it’s not a very pleasant phrase, since it literally means “eat shit”. But when Cubans use this word, it is used to tell someone to stop being so stupid, to not be fooled by anyone else.

  • Deja de ser tan comemierda y exige tus derechos – Stop being so stupid, and demand your rights

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