Cuban expressions are, well…expressive. I recently overheard a conversation in Spanish between a man and a woman on a Havana street.  A “dictionary” translation would sound something like this:

Man:  “You know, Jose has no delayed steaks because he is lined. He even moved to a new house where the devil gave the three voices.  Didn’t you know? You are not in anything, my partner.”

Woman: “Oh, don’t eat feces, young man! I heard on Radio Big Lip that he was finishing but he is also a big packager so you never know. I think he is eating a tremendous cable.”

What could they possibly be talking about?  Translated from Cuban slang the conversation is:

Man: “You know Jose looks great because he is doing well financially. He even moved to a new house very far away. Didn’t you know? You don’t seem to be aware.”

Woman: “Oh, don’t be a fool. The gossip is he’s doing well but he is such a liar that you never know.  I think he is having a hard time.

Things are frequently not what they seem when “speaking in Cuban” and using Cuban expressions.

Want the best price? Make sure you “put yourself in something” (get your act together) “tear his arm off” (negotiate well) and “don’t let them grab your ass” (take you for a fool).

Cuban expressions are rich, descriptive and  fun. They can also be very confusing… unless you’re Cuban.

I would like to share some of my favorite Cuban expressions and help you understand how to use them so that next time you’re in Havana “you will be finishing”  (everyone will be very impressed with you).

Expression: No comas mierda
Translation: Do not eat feces
Meaning: Don’t be a fool

Expression: Va a la Habana y apaga fuego
Translation: He goes to Havana and puts out fires
Meaning: He is very talented, does many things well.

Expression: Radio Bemba
Translation: Radio Big Lip
Meaning: Gossip, as in, I heard it on radio big lip

Expression: Comiendo un cable
Translation: Eating a cable
Meaning: Having a real hard time.

 Cuban expressions are are colorful as these walls in La Guarida.

Inside La Guarida it is a different world

Expression: Eramos pocos y pario Catana
Translation: There were few of us then Catana gave birth
Meaning: As if things weren’t bad enough, they got even worse

Expression: Tremendo arroz con mango
Translation: A huge mango with rice
Meaning: A big confusion

Expression: Eso va a terminar como la fiesta del Guatao
Translation: That will end like the Guatao party
Meaning: That’s not a good idea or that will not end well

Expression: Que bola, acere!
Translation: What ball, homey!
Meaning: What’s up, dude!

Expression: Canto “El Manicero”
Translation: He sang “The Peanut Vendor”
Meaning: He died

Expression: Eso dura lo que dura un merengue en la puerta de una escuela
Translation: That will last about as long as a sugary pastry at the door of a school
Meaning: That’s not going to last too long

Expression: No tiene bistec atrasado
Translation: He has no delayed steak
Meaning: He looks healthy and in good shape

I hope you enjoyed these Cuban expressions.  What are some unusual expressions from YOUR background?

If you’re interested in Cuba, you might enjoy these posts.

The Perfect Cuba Itinerary: Everything You Need to Know. 

10 Dos and Don’ts for Your Trip to Cuba.

Cuban Expressions


BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa?  Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.