Palabras Venezolanas: 16 Venezuelan expressions that make no sense in English

Frases y palabras venezolanas

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One of the most interesting and fun parts of learning Spanish is getting to know all the funny Spanish sayings and expressions, and Venezuelan Spanish has plenty of them.

Most of these Venezuelan sayings will probably make you go “what?” and crack you up at first glance because of how bizarre they seem when translated, but once you get what they mean, you’ll want to include all of these Venezuelan words or palabras venezolanas in your vocabulary to sound like a real venezolano.

These expressions are the result of a very particular cultural background, including the country’s indigenous, colonial, and foreign heritage. Many of these Venezuelan expressions focus on popular foods, typical flora and fauna, and the common experiences of Venezuelans.

Note that Venezuelan language has some very inappropriate colloquialisms, but in this post we’re focusing on a selection of PG-13 Venezuelan expressions for you to enjoy. Of course there are tons more Venezuelan phrases, but don’t worry, we’ll keep them coming!

Palabras venezolanas: Terminology

Before we start, let’s just clear up some of the terms we’ll be seeing throughout this post on palabras venezolanas. First, palabra is the word in Spanish for word, so palabras is the plural of words. In this post you’ll be learning a lot of funny palabras venezolanas!

Then we have saying, which translates directly as dicho in Spanish. A common equivalent is also frase, which is Spanish for a phrase. And yes, we’ll be covering many frases venezolanas as well.

We should also note that nationalities in Spanish are written in lowercase, so it’s palabras venezolanas and not “Venezolanas.”

Now that we’re clear on the basic terminology, let’s get into our palabras venezolanas and frases venezolanas!


Within the category of palabras venezolanas, naguará is definitely one of the most common Venezuelan expressions. It’s used as an interjection to express surprise, anger, or frustration. Though this Venezuelan word has no literal translation in English, the feeling it conveys would be similar to a “darn!” or an “oh my God!” depending on the context.

  • ¿Cómo que apenas te estás despertando? ¡Naguará! ¡Te estoy esperando desde las seis! – What do you mean you’re just waking up? C’mon! I’ve been waiting for you since six o’clock!
  • ¿Escuchaste que Luis tuvo un accidente? / Sí. Naguará, qué horrible. Espero que mejore pronto. – Have you heard that Luis had an accident? / Yes. Oh my God, how awful. I hope he gets better soon.


You probably know about this one already, since it’s not exclusive to Venezuela. However, it’s so widely used, that it needs to be on our list. Chévere means “nice” or “cool” in English and can be used in all kinds of situations.

  • ¡Qué chévere te quedó el dibujo! – You did such a cool drawing!
  • Mi mamá es muy chévere. Siempre vamos juntas a todos los conciertos. – My mom is so cool. We always go together to all the concerts.
  • El clima de Caracas es muy chévere. – The climate in Caracas is really nice.

Una concha de mango

You know those typical cartoon scenes where the character slips on a banana peel? Well, the idea behind this Venezuelan expression is kind of similar, but with a mango instead of a banana.

Concha de mango directly translates to “mango skin” in English, and in Venezuelan Spanish this expression is used to refer to trick questions purposely formulated for you to ‘slip’ on them. Sometimes concha de mango is used with the verb “tirar,” meaning “to throw,” or similar verbs in a figurative way, meaning “to ask trick questions.”

  • El examen de admisión tiene muchas conchas de mango, así que tienes que leer atentamente. – The admission test has many trick questions, so you have to read carefully.
  • Mi mamá me estaba tirando conchas de mango para ver si de verdad había leído el libro. – My mom was asking me trick questions to see if I had actually read the book.

Volverse un ocho, Estar vuelto un ocho, Estar vuelta un ocho

The literal meaning of this Venezuelan expression is “to turn into an eight” or “to be turned into an eight” and it means to be super confused and not knowing how to go about something.

Now, “why an eight?” you may wonder. Well, in Venezuelan Spanish, the idea of being confused and not knowing how to proceed can be described with the verb “enredarse”, literally meaning “to get entangled”. It seems that Venezuelans consider the number eight to look very entangled, like a twisted zero. So, when you’re confused and moving around trying to figure out what to do, you may get entangled, just like an eight.

  • Ana María está tratando de resolver los ejercicios de matemática, pero está vuelta un ocho. – Ana María is trying to solve the math exercises, but she is too confused.
  • No es necesario volverse un ocho. Si prestas atención a la explicación del ingeniero, sabrás cómo terminar el trabajo. – There’s no need to complicate this. If you pay attention to the engineer’s explanation, then you’ll know how to finish the job.

Dejar el pelero

When you leave a place or situation quickly and furtively to avoid something, that right there is dejar el pelero. This phrase literally means “to leave hair behind,” and it’s said to come from hunters’ stories about their prey that fled so fast, they were only left with their fur.

  • Mi compañero dejó el pelero y ahora me toca hacer todo el trabajo solo. – My coworker left me high and dry, and now I have to do all the work by myself.
  • Mi hija siempre deja el pelero cuando le digo que hay que limpiar la casa. – My daughter always disappears in a flash when I tell her that it’s time to clean up the house.

Quedarse sin el chivo y sin el mecate

“To end up without the goat and without its leash” is the literal meaning of this Venezuelan saying, and it applies to situations where you end up losing all your options because you can’t settle on one.

  • Andrea no se decidía entre el vestido azul y el rosado, y ya vendieron los dos, así que se quedó sin el chivo y sin el mecate. – Andrea couldn’t decide between the blue dress and the pink one, and both were sold, so she ended up with neither of them.

Éramos muchos y parió la abuela

This funny Venezuelan saying is more relatable than you would think. It literally means “there were many of us and grandma gave birth” and it applies to a situation that was already bad and is worsened by a circumstance or event. An English equivalent would be “as if we didn’t have enough problems already.”

  • ¡No puede ser! Ayer se dañó el teléfono y ahora fue el televisor. ¡Éramos muchos y parió la abuela! – No way! Yesterday the phone broke and now it’s the TV. As if we didn’t have enough problems already!

Chivo que se devuelve, se esnuca

This frase venezolana translates as “the goat that returns, breaks its neck,” and it’s a lesson about following through with one’s choices.

As you may know, goats are very agile mountain climbers, but turning around once they are all the way up a steep slope could cause them to fall, thus breaking their necks. So, the next time you decide to do something and then get cold feet, remember these palabras venezolanas.

  • Le prometí a Sofía que me iba a casar con ella, pero ya no quiero hacerlo. / Ay, Carlos. Recuerda que chivo que se devuelve, se esnuca. – I promised Sofía that I was going to marry her, but I don’t want to anymore. / Oh, Carlos. Remember that the goat that goes back, breaks its neck.

El cachicamo trabaja para la lapa

This Venezuelan saying is composed of some very specific palabras venezolanas: “cachicamo” and “lapa” are the words in Venezuelan Spanish for “armadillo” and “lowland paca,” respectively.

The straight translation of this saying is “the armadillo works for the lowland paca,” and it refers to a person who does not benefit from their own effort because someone else is taking advantage of it.

This Venezuelan expression is inspired by the actual behavior of these emblematic specimens of the Venezuelan fauna. To escape predators, the armadillo digs a burrow to bury itself and avoid being caught. However, the pacas takes advantage of the armadillos’ effort and steal their burrows, along with the food they store there.

  • Compré una computadora, pero ahora mi hermano no me deja usarla. Creo que tendré que comprar otra. / El cachicamo trabaja para la lapa, definitivamente. – I bought a computer, but now my brother won’t let me use it. I think I’ll have to buy another one. / You’re being taken advantage of, definitely.

Un vivo

This palabra venezolana is used to describe people who try to take advantage of others or situations to favor their own interests. It usually has a negative connotation, but some take pride in being “vivos.”

  • Ese es un vivo. Entró al banco sin hacer la cola. – He is a sneaky one. He entered the bank without having to wait in line.
  • Yo hice toda la investigación, pero el vivo de Roberto le dijo al jefe que todo era obra suya. – I did all the investigation, but that snake Roberto told the boss it was all his effort.

Ser atropellado por un carrito de helados

This frase venezolana is perfect to describe the fate of those who think they can outsmart everybody, like the vivos we saw above. It literally means “to get run over by an ice cream push cart,” and it’s a sarcastic response to ill-conceived proposals or remarks about how someone thinks they’ll take advantage of someone else. It’s an absurd response to an absurd behavior.

  • Me voy a hacer amiga de Pablo para que me pague todo. / Cuidado y te atropella un carrito de helados. – I’ll befriend Pablo so that he’ll pay for all my stuff. / Don’t trip from trying to run too fast.

El diablo sabe más por viejo que por diablo

Literally translating to “the devil knows more from being old than from being the devil,” this old Venezuelan expression highlights the wisdom that comes with old age, rather than the ones that come with degrees or a certain position. It’s usually used by elders to remind young people to value their experience and wisdom and learn from it.

  • No necesito tus consejos, abuela. Ya soy un adulto. / Mijo, recuerda que más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. Si escuchas mis consejos, te puedes ahorrar muchos problemas. – I don’t need your advice, grandma. I’m already an adult. / Son, remember that the devil knows more from being an old man than from being the devil. If you listen to my advice, you can save yourself many troubles.

Ser más agarrado que vieja en moto

This funny Venezuelan saying comes from a wordplay. In Spanish, “agarrar” means “to grab” or “to hold onto something”. However, in Venezuelan Spanish, “ser agarrado” means “to be stingy”, figuratively representing a person who holds on to their wallets or money. So, this Venezuelan phrase literally means “holding on tighter [to their money] than an old lady on a motorcycle”, meaning that someone is extremely cheap.

  • Le pedí a mi papá dinero para ir a la fiesta, pero es más agarrado que vieja en moto. – I asked my dad for money to go to the party, but he’s too stingy.

El violín

Literally, this Spanish noun is the same as its English counterpart, referring to the stringed instrument. Used as one of our palabras venezolanas, however, it’s used as an adjective when someone has stinky armpits. There are some theories about the origin of this Venezuelan expression, with one being that it references a musician’s exposed armpits when playing the violin.

  • Me tocó ir de pie en el metro y la persona que estaba a mi lado tenía mucho violín. – I had to stand on the subway and the person next to me had very stinky armpits

Mear fuera del perol, Mear fuera del pote

This Venezuelan expression means “to piss outside the pot” and it’s a whole mood. You know when someone is so wrong that they’re just saying nonsense? Or when someone has very ridiculous ideas? That’s mear fuera del perol: to be so far off, or very wrong. Some people say “pote” instead of “perol,” but nowadays, they’re synonyms.

  • Si tú crees que voy a dejar que te quedes con todo el crédito, estás meando fuera del perol. – If you think I’m going to let you take all the credit, you’re very wrong.
  • ¿De verdad crees que voy a hacer todo lo que digas solo para complacerte? Estás meando fuera del pote. – Do you really think I’m going to do everything you say just to please you? You’re so wrong.

Creerse la última Coca-Cola en el desierto

Imagine you’ve been walking for days in the desert under the hot sun, and you come across the only can of Coke you can find. It would be an exceptional Coke, right? Well, that’s precisely where this Venezuelan expression comes from. This literal translation of this expression is “to believe oneself fffffffffto be the last Coke in the desert” and it’s used sarcastically to describe arrogant people who think they are more special than anyone else.

  • Mi hermana trata mal a todos como si ella fuera la última Coca-Cola en el desierto. – My sister mistreats everyone as if she were better than everyone else.
  • El tío Rubén siempre quiere llamar la atención porque se cree la última Coca-Cola en el desierto. – Uncle Ruben always wants to be in the spotlight because he thinks he’s more special than anyone.

Conclusion: Frases venezolanas

Wow, this post has been a fun ride, but sadly the end has come.

Today we went through our top 16 funny Spanish sayings from Venezuela, we learned their meanings, and we saw some examples. Most of these frases y palabras venezolanas have no equivalents in English, so we saw their literal translations along with the ideas they convey.

If you enjoyed this post, bookmark it and share it with your friends. And if you enjoyed learning these phrases, you may also enjoy checking out our specific post on Venezuelan slang, or our general post on Spanish idioms.


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