Vintage Cuban street scene with vibrant signage and locals.

In Cuba the Spanish language has been enriched by the Indian language of the Tainos who inhabited the archipelago before the arrival of the Spanish, leaving words like batea, bohío, canoa, hammaca, tabaco, etc..

Cuban Language Today

If you already speak spanish, you must take into account that there are words that have different meanings between Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. Some words have unexpected meanings.

This is the case, for example, of the word “Papaya”, which designates a fruit in Spain and other countries, whereas in Cuba it designates female genitalia. In Cuba this fruit is called “Fruta Bomba”.

On the other hand, the expression “vale”, which in Spain means “OK”, which everyone uses, is very negative in Cuba, since it is the equivalent of “that’s enough” and is therefore to be avoided.

Cuban Slang

Next, you will find a list of Cuban words that are very useful for communication:

  • Máquina: American car 50’s.
  • Guagua: Bus.
  • Chófer: Driver.
  • Pomo: Bottle.
  • Hacer la botella: Hitchhiking.
  • Pique: Stop.
  • Entronque: Crossroads.
  • Ochovía: Highway.
  • Gomas: Car routes.
  • Timón: Steering wheel.
  • Gallegos: Spaniards
  • Pepes: Foreigners.
  • Quedarse botado: He stands you up.
  • Carpeta: Reception.
  • Vaucher: Entrance/Hall.
  • Fula: Dollar.
  • Tomar: Drink.
  • Pájaro/pajarillo: Gay.
  • Trusa: Bathing suit.
  • Cholo: Pants/jeans.
  • Bohío: Cottage.
  • Fajarse: Fighting.
  • Guajiro: Peasant.
  • Jinetera: Prostitute.
  • Jinetero: Thieves / pick pockets.
  • Bola: Gossip.
  • Pelota: Baseball.
  • Pila: Faucet.