If you're not planning on using these 10 Cuban sayings on your next trip to Miami, it's time to start adding them to your repertoire.
Domino Park on Calle Ocho. Photo: Startup Cuba

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.

sugar cubanismos cuban saying
Azucar. Lots of azucar.

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. 

That is not a fart that will tear your underwear cubanismo cuban saying
That is not a fart that will tear your underwear.

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.  

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4. Suave, fresco y bajito de sal.

“Easy, fresh, and low on salt” – very unlike any Cuban food we’re familiar with. 

cubanismo cuban saying

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. 

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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!

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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.

not this package cubanismo cuban saying
Uh. Not this kinda package.

10. Tremendo Paquete!

“Quite the package!” a response to when you hear something super dramatic, or a lie.

Related Post: El Paquete Semanal: Cuba’s Weekly Internet Delivered on a Hard Drive

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. 

(Carmen y Fryda produce a podcast called teikirisi about all things Cuban-American. It can be found on Apple and Spotify.)

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Carmen & Fryda are two Cuban-born, Miami bffs who started a podcast called teikirisi to celebrate and educate on all things Cuban-american. Together, Carmen & Fryda spill the cafecito on Cuban-American identity, navigate Cuban-American culture, and tell stories about life in Cuba & the diaspora. Carmen studied political science and journalism at the University of Miami, and has spent the last 8 years working as a documentary filmmaker. She currently works as a producer for a financial media outlet, and moonlights as an oil-painter. Carmen’s toxic traits include making finance puns nobody likes, hating on Miami, and buying plants she doesn’t have space for. She loves reading, her cat, Isaac, and frolicking around Brooklyn, camera in tow, hunting down the best eats and drinks. Fryda studied political science at Yale University. She has 7 years of experience working in advocacy, community mobilization, and civic engagement. Currently, Fryda works as a consultant in data analysis, strategy, and technology for nonprofit & political organizations. She loves soaking up the sun on walks with her dog, Amelia (who she believes is her actual child), going rock climbing and hiking, and enjoying a delicious meal with a cocktail.

1 comment

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  • You left out one of my favorite sayings:
    “Ese huevo quiere sal” which means—“That egg wants salt,” referring to someone who secretly wants something or has ulterior motives.

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