Some popular expressions

The Dominican Talk

  • A Dominican doesn’t give you a dirty look. S/he “corta los ojos” (cuts the eyes).
  • A Dominican doesn’t leave something. S/he “sueltan la banda” (releases the band).
  • A Dominican does not get better, or well (when s/he is ill). S/he “se alienta” (gets encouraged).
  • A Dominican doesn’t insult you. S/he gives you a “pele’e lengua” (whipping of the tongue). “Pela” is the Dominican word for beating, whipping, or spanking.
  • A Dominican doesn’t drink from the bottle. S/he “se embica” –from the verb “embocar” (to put in the mouth, or to gulp down)
  • A Dominican doesn’t fight you. S/he “te come vivo” (eat you alive).
  • A Dominican doesn’t call you (on the phone). S/he gives you a “toque” (knock, touch).
  • A Dominican doesn’t ignore (another person). S/he “se hace el/la loco/a” (make the crazy) Meaning: plays dumb.
  • A Dominican doesn’t climb (or gets on top of something). S/he “se encarama” (raise, elevate, lift up)
  • A Dominican doesn’t ask for a little (or a small piece or portion of something). S/he asks for a “chin” (as in a bit, tad, pinch, dash).
  • A Dominican doesn’t eat something light or have a light snack or a light meal. S/he “pica” (as in bite, nibble).
  • A Dominican doesn’t try (to do something). S/he “brega” (struggles)
  • A Dominican is not prepared. S/he is “setia” (from English “to be set”)
  • A Dominican doesn’t go directly or straight (to a place) without stopping on the way. S/he goes “en bola’ehumo” (in ball of smoke).
  • A Dominican does not wait. S/he “hace hora” (makes hour).
  • A Dominican doesn’t have phlegm in the lungs. S/he has a “pollo” (chicken) or a “con-con” in the lungs. “Con-con” is also the term used to refer to the rice that sticks to the bottom of a saucepan.
  • A Dominican doesn’t calm down. S/he “lo coje con suavena” (takes it with suavena). “Suavena”: either from the word “suave” (soft), or possibly from Suavena, an oatmeal brand.
  • A Dominican doesn’t repeat something slower. S/he “lo baraja mas alpaso” (shuffles it “alpaso”) “Al paso” is the Spanish word for the slowest gait of a horse.
  • A Dominican doesn’t work hard. S/he “la busca como un toro” (looks for it as a bull).
  • A Dominican doesn’t deceive you. S/he “te lo mete frio” (inserts it or puts it into you cold)
  • A Dominican is not unfaithful or doesn’t cheat on you. S/he “te pega los cuernos” (puts or sticks the horns on you).
  • A Dominican is not a liar. S/he is a jablador. (from the Spanish word “hablador” (talker)
  • A Dominican is not an expert. S/he is a “verdugo” (executioner).
  • A Dominican doesn’t know everything. S/he is a “tiguere” (streetwise person)
  • A Dominican doesn’t get drunk. S/he “se da un jumo” (gives her/himself a “jumo”) Jumo: possibly from the Spanish word “humo” (smoke).
  • A Dominican does not slip. S/he “patina” (skates).
  • A Dominican doesn’t have economic problems. S/he is “en mala” (in bad).
  • A Dominican doesn’t go bankrupt or broke. S/he “eta en olla” (is in the pan).
  • A Dominican doesn’t spy. S/he “brecha” (cracks or gaps)
  • A Dominican doesn’t convince. S/he “da muela” (gives molar tooth).
  • A Dominican doesn’t caress. S/he “soba” (knead, handle, paw)
  • A Dominican doesn’t jump, throw him/herself (doesn’t go for it!). S/he “se jondea”
  • A Dominican doesn’t bother, disturb, or pester. S/he “fuñe” or “jode”
  • A Dominican doesn’t take a bath or showers. S/he “se echa agua” (throws water onto him/herself).
  • A Dominican doesn’t fill his/her stomach. S/he “se jarta” (from Spanish “hartar”) stuff.
  • A Dominican doesn’t get annoyed. S/he “se quilla”
  • A Dominican doesn’t hit you. S/he “te eplota” –from the Spanish verb “explotar” (explodes) you.
  • A Dominican doesn’t give a punch or a blow. S/he gives a “totazo”
  • A Dominican doesn’t squat or bend down. S/he “se aplata” –from the Spanish word “aplastar” (squash, mash)
  • A Dominican doesn’t get off or get down. S/he “se apea” (take themselves down)
  • A Dominican doesn’t organize (things). S/he “acoteja” (arrange, put things in order)
  • A Dominican doesn’t go fast. S/he goes like a “chele” (Dominican word for a one-cent coin, a penny) or like “elajon derdiablo” (“elajon” of the devil).
  • A Dominican doesn’t abandon you. S/he “te saca los pies” (removes the feet or takes out the feet)
  • A Dominican doesn’t take a siesta, a nap. S/he “echa una pavita” (throws a “pavita”)
  • A Dominican doesn’t leave or takes off running. S/he “se embala” (pack her/himself)
  • Dominicans don’t see each other later. They “se chequean” later (check each other) later.
  • A Dominican doesn’t choke or gets something stuck in their throat. S/he “se añuga”
  • A Dominican doesn’t look for a fight. S/he “arma una piña” (put together, assembles or mount a pineapple)
  • A Dominican doesn’t give you a slap on the face. S/he gives you a “galleta” (wafer)
  • A Dominican doesn’t drink too much (alcoholic beverages). S/he “se prende, se enciende o se pone en su punto” (ignites him/herself, catches fire, or sh/e puts his/herself on his/her peak)
  • A Dominican doesn’t speak incoherently or doesn’t speak nonsense. S/he is a “baboso/a” (dribbler, slobber, drooler)
  • A Dominican doesn’t doubt. S/he “se pone chivo” (put her/himself goat)
  • Dominicans don’t doubt. They “se ponen chivo” (put themselves goat)
  • And at the end, Dominicans don’t die. They “guindan los tenis” (hang the sneakers or tennis shoes)


The best way to familiarize yourself with Dominican culture, as well as to see the country for yourself, is to obtain a copy of the publication “All Things Dominican / Lo Dominicano” (2015, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development), which includes not only a wide-ranging variety of topics about the Dominican Republic, but also a grand showcase of Dominican expressions, idioms and sayings. The book is available on Amazon here.

About All Things Dominican / Lo Dominicano

The tangible and the intangible, the traditional and the modern, the spirit that creates new trends and the conservative emphasis on preserving our roots, the creative expressions that stimulate the finest senses of rhythm, sound, sight, smell, and taste, inviting us to think, feel, and dream – all this forms part of what we call lo nuestro, lo dominicano, which infuses our daily lives, our homes, our streets, our workplaces, and follows us when we travel abroad or live out of our home country. What brings us together identifies us, makes us proud, and inspires us to keep creating and contributing to this abundant and prolific heritage of very particular expressions of what we are – expressions also appreciated, enjoyed, and shared by people from all corners of the globe.

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