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A – Dominicanismos Dictionary

LETTER A

The Way Dominicans Speak / Cómo Hablamos Dominicanos – Dominicanismos Dictionary

The slang used in the Dominican Republic.

A – a

Arretao´- a very bold person, stupidly brave

Asorao – surprised

A caco – to shave a head bald, especially when trying to hide their hair loss

A nivel – used to describe when something is pleasurable, almost like “really cool”

A po’ ta’ bien – “Ah, it’s OK”

Abombao – when someone had lots to eat.

Abombarse – rotten or spoiled food, fruit and water

Abur-Abur – equal to bye-bye

Ace – powdered soap, laundry soap

Acechar – to watch or control

Acetona – Nail polish remover

Aficiao – (pronounced ah-fee-Chow) to be enamored with, in love with or complexly asphyxiated with another person.

Agallú (or Agayú) – greedy, when one has more than enough and does not share. Selfish.

Aguajero – BS’er, full of it, speaks a lot and does nothing, brags and boasts all the time.

Agolpear – (Golpear) to strike, hit

Ahora – now

Ahorita – Soon, later, maybe never in “Dominican time”

Anchoas, anchoitas – pin curls (thanks Nicole)

Anjá – sort of like saying “What!” “Wow!”

Ajebrarse – to physically fight with another person

Ajumao – A drunk

Al trisito – when something is about to happen or almost happened. “We al tristo wrecked”

Alante – (similar to adelante) to move ahead, go forward, to call the next person in a line. You will hear it used when your turn is next while in a waiting line.

Alelao – a man who is a little slow or stupid

Allantoso – Bragger, phony

AMET – (El AMET) the traffic police (police contact numbers)

Amorcita (o) – my little love (feminine or masculine) used as a term of endearment not necessarily love

Anda el Diablo (sometimes spoken as one word Andaeldiablo) – It is usually said as an exclamation with the emphases on the word anda. Used like the word Damn! when surprised or frustrated. Translated loosely as “The devil walks” or “Hanging out with the devil”.

Añuga – to choke

A su orden -“Your welcome” or “It’s nothing”

Apechurrao, Apiñao, Apeñucao – to be very tight, to be packed in like sardines

Aplatanado – another name for Dominicans. Many do not like being called this. Also used for non-Dominicans that have evolved to become more Dominican the longer they stay in DR.

Aplicar – apply for a job

Apota – intentionally, deliberately

Arma una piña – to look for a fight

Arrecho – for a man to be excited sexually, erect

averiguao – (from the spanish word averiguador) a person who is very nosey (thanks Nicole)

Avion – (literally means airplane) a woman that does sexual favors for free; an easy woman

Dominican Spanish

Dominican Spanish- The Way Dominicans Talk

Dominican Spanish, the way the Dominicans talk (Como Hablamos Dominicanos) sometimes known as Dominicanismos or Dominicanese. Some words are the same as Spain Spanish but many are very different. Even the way words are pronounced are different. For example, most Dominicans do not use the “S” at the end of a word.

It is important to know many of these words. When you are walking in the street and someone calls out to you. Should you acknowledge or ignore the comments. When dining knowing what your ordering could make a real difference for the stomach!

Dominicanismos / Dominican Idiom Dictionary | Dominican Spanish Explanations | Basic Spanish Words | Pronunciation and Alphabet | Shortcuts For Typing Foreign Symbols | Dominican Sayings & Idomatic Expressions | Trees | Animals | Using Animal Traits to Describe People | Animal Talk | Taino Language Used Today | Funny Names Of Dominican Towns Translated

Use these as a guideline. As with all languages, words change as well as peoples interpretation of them. Each region and sometimes town, has its own words, expressions and accents. Imagine trying to explain some words you may use in your own language…not as easy as it seems.

Dominican people having fun at the Plaza Bartolome de las Casas.
Dominican people having fun at the Plaza Bartolome de las Casas.

Official Language

Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. Street signs and restaurant menus are written in Spanish with the exception of some tourists areas. Knowing some Spanish would be helpful even though most people linked to the tourist trade generally speak different languages. Even if you are laughed at, people will respect your efforts to use their native language. Anyhow, laughing is good for the health, even if it is at your own expense. Enjoy and take it easy, life is too short.

Speaking Loud and Fast

Some interesting things that you will probably notice about the language is when you hear a group Dominican people hanging out talking. Dominicans usually speak very loud and fast while waving their arms around. Some might use strong hand and facial gestures. When I first saw this I thought people were getting ready to fight. It made me nervous. I did not understand the words they were saying and, for me, they were using what seemed to be aggressive gesturing. I later learned that this is just their way. It is normal Dominican-talk. It is not aggressive, rude or annoying to others. It is the way they do it. Their cultural custom. Dominican people are just the opposite of the way they come across. They are very polite humans, always greeting others with a “buenas días” or “¿Como esta?”.

Funny little statue

Consonants and Vowels

One very noticeable difference in the language is the way certain consonants and vowels change. In the capital area of Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, the R sound is changes to an L sound. For example the word ¿por que? changes in sound to ¿pol que?. In the north part of the country they make the R sound like an I which makes ¿por que? sound like ¿poi que?. The southern region makes the R sound like an L making the word Miguel sound like Miguer. Also they do not add the letter S to the ending of words. In fact, they cut off many of the last letters in a word.

Words, for the most part, are written as they sound. At times it is not easy to determine exactly what letter is correct just by the sound. The average Dominican has no idea (and for the most part doesn’t really care) if a word is spelled with a V or a B; an H or a J; a soft C or an S or a Z (any letters that are interchangeable in pronunciation). When writing something of importance make sure to look up the word if there are any doubts as to the spelling.

Dominican Spanish 101 from Amazon

Do not put your garbage here sign
Do not put your garbage here sign.

Slang

Slang is very common, like everywhere in the world. Learning the slang of a country or region can be a never ending task as things change from day to day. One example is years ago in USA the word bad meant good, and now when something is sweet they do not mean that it is filled with sugar.

This is the same in Dominican Republic. It can be seen everywhere. On political posters, signs, and names of businesses. Trying to learn some of the slang can make conversing a bit more fun, helping your understanding and making it easier to fit in. In time, and with a little effort, you should be able to understand and laugh at a joke just as you do in your own native language.

Common Phrases

Try listening to people talking in the streets with friends or enter a Dominicans chat room and see if you can pick up some common phrases. Esta Bien would be the school book way to say something is good, OK or cool. Here people might say “Ta nitido” “Ta jevi” “Ta vacano”. If you agree with something and want to say this in Dominican slang you could say “ta to” or “fuego”. If you want to just say hello or what’s up you would say “¿Que lo que?” or ¿Como tu ‘ta?” There are so many more sayings. I have tried to list many in the Dominicanismo Dictionary.

Word Play

Dominicans use many double entendres in their language. This word play and metaphors make the language quite flowery and fun. Try and remember that for many Dominican words, including Spanish words in general, there are no direct translations. It is important if you want to fit in try and use a few of these words. It is also fun. If you do make a mistake don’t worry. Dominicans will most likely understand and try to help. They will appreciate your efforts.

Relax and enjoy this wonderful island and its beautiful and colorful people. Life is good!!

Kids selling almendras in the street laughing at the way the American talks
Kids selling almendras in the street laughing at the way the American talks.

How to respond to a greeting Dominican style

When you are asked:
“¿Como tu ‘ta? (“How you Doing?”)
OR
“¿Que lo que?” (“What’s happening?”)

Respond with:
“Tranquilo” (“Calm”)
“Ma-o-meno” (“ore or less)
“Regular pal’ tiempo (“OK for now”)