So it’s February, and you’ve already run out of clever Cuban sayings to yell to your BFF on the way to Sedanos. Have no fear, we’ve got 10 Cubanismos (plus a bonus) to add to your list!
They’ll carry you through this year, and even possibly… next.
1. Si no te gusta, échale azúcar.
“If you don’t like it, put some sugar on it.”
The Cubanismo version of “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
We don’t know who wrote the lemonade one, but considering sugar’s role in Cuba’s long and complicated past, it’s only fitting to incorporate when talking about trying to look on the bright side.
2. Eso no es peo que rompe calzoncillos.
“That is not a fart that will tear your underwear.”
In typical Cuban fashion, this one is a little TMI, but it’s capturing the idea that you should take it easy! It’s not worth it to get worked up about a fart that is not threatening your undies. Save your freak outs for when they matter.
3. Por si las moscas.
“Just in case of flies.” It means, just in case… but, why the flies? In Cuba, flies show up all over, especially if you leave any food out. You might say it makes sense to prepare for their eventual takeover.
4. Suave, fresco y bajito de sal.
“Easy, fresh, and low on salt” – very unlike any Cuban food we’re familiar with.
5. Quien no conoce un altar, delante de un horno se persigna.
“If you’re not familiar with an altar, you’ll worship before an oven.” Well, that’s embarrassing! Basically, if you don’t know what to look for, anything will do.
6. No se puede tapar el sol con un dedo.
“You can’t block the sun with a finger.” You can’t solve a big problem by pretending it’s not there.
7. Por algún lado le tiene que entrar el agua al coco.
Cubans like to call their heads “un coco,” or a coconut, so when someone finally understands an idea, you say “water’s gotta make it inside a coconut somehow.”
8. Nunca para atrás, ni pa’ coger impulso.
“Never go back, not even to get momentum.” Leave your ex, quit your job, start a band!
9. Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.
“The devil is wise not because he’s the devil, but because he’s old.” This is a pretty sinister way to teach little Cubans to respect their elders, but it definitely works.
10. Tremendo Paquete!
“Quite the package!” a response to when you hear something super dramatic, or a lie.
BONUS: “Ahí estaba hasta malanga y su puesto de vianda.”
“Malanga & all the vegetables were there.” When everybody and their mothers show up to a party and you’re Cuban.