To laugh all the way to the bank

  • Andar un ojo al cristo – to be careful
  • Buscar pelos en la sopa – to nitpick
  • Comer en olla grande – to have an overweight girlfriend or wife
  • Día del tata – Father’s Day. Actually the correct term is el día del padre.
  • Fumigar –literally means to fumigate but can also mean to end a relationship or murder someone.
  • Hacerle cabeza a – to think. The verb pensar is the most widely verb used when saying “to think.”
  • Melos – slang for gemelos which means twins.
  • Nachas – buttocks. Careful! This term sounds like the Mexican food nachos
  • Pato de la fiesta or el hazmereir – a person who is the laughingstock
  • Ser todo un pegue – to be a success or hit
  • Ser una pipa – to be very intelligent
  • Vivir cagado de risa – to laugh all the way to the bank
  • Volar rueda – to drive a vehicle


Give me a break!

The word break has many translations in Spanish. Here are some of the misty common ones.

  • Al amanecer – at daybreak
  • Amortiguar – to break or cushion a fall
  • Arruinar – to go broke
  • Batir – to break a sport’s record
  • Cambiar – to break or change a bill ($)
  • Colapso nervioso – a nervous breakdown
  • Cubrir los gastos – to break even
  • Dar una oportunidad – to give someone a break or chance
  • ¡Déjame respirar ! – Give me a break!
  • Descanso – a break (rest)
  • Descomponerse – to break down, like a car or an appliance.
  • Domar – to break in a horse
  • Fractura – a break or fracture like a bone
  • Fugarse – a jail break or an escape
  • Golpe de suerte – a lucky break
  • Punto de ruptura – breaking point
  • Romper or quebrar – to break something.
  • Romper el hielo – to break the ice (figurative)
  • Romper filas – to break ranks or fall out
  • Romper lazos – to break ties with someone or something
  • Vacaciones – a break like summer break, spring break, etcetera
  • Violar – to break the law

There are countless more meanings and uses of “break” in Spanish.

TiquismoRomperle la madre a alguien – to kick someone’s ass


Bilinguals found to have more grey mater

By the Georgetown University Medical Center news staff. A new study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex suggests people who speak two languages have more gray matter in the brain.


In past decades, much has changed about the understanding of bilingualism. Early on, bilingualism was thought to be a disadvantage because the presence of two vocabularies would lead to delayed language development in children. However, it has since been demonstrated that bilingual individuals perform better, compared with monolinguals, on tasks that require attention, inhibition and short-term memory, collectively termed executive control.

This bilingual advantage is believed to come about because of bilinguals’ long-term use and management of two spoken languages. But skepticism still remains about whether these advantages are present, as they are not observed in all studies. Even if the advantage is robust, the mechanism is still being debated.

“Inconsistencies in the reports about the bilingual advantage stem primarily from the variety of tasks that are used in attempts to elicit the advantage,” says senior author Guinevere Eden, director for the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center.

“Given this concern, we took a different approach and instead compared gray matter volume between adult bilinguals and monolinguals,” she said. “We reasoned that the experience with two languages and the increased need for cognitive control to use them appropriately would result in brain changes in Spanish-English bilinguals when compared with English-speaking monolinguals. And in fact greater gray matter for bilinguals was observed in frontal and parietal brain regions that are involved in executive control.”

Gray matter of the brain has been shown to differ in volume as a function of people’s experiences. A prominent finding of this type was a report that London taxi drivers have more gray matter in brain areas involved in spatial navigation.

What about being bilingual leads to these advantages? To address this question the team went one step further. “Our aim was to address whether the constant management of two spoken languages leads to cognitive advantages and the larger gray matter we observed in Spanish-English bilinguals, or whether other aspects of being bilingual, such as the large vocabulary associated with having two languages, could account for this,” explains Olumide Olulade, the study’s lead author and post-doctoral fellow.

The researchers compared gray matter in bilinguals of American Sign Language and spoken English with monolingual users of English. Both ASL-English and Spanish-English bilinguals share qualities associated with bilingualism, such as vocabulary size. But unlike bilinguals of two spoken languages, ASL-English bilinguals can sign and speak simultaneously, allowing the researchers to test whether the need to inhibit the other language might explain the bilingual advantage.

“Unlike the findings for the Spanish-English bilinguals, we found no evidence for greater gray matter in the ASL-English bilinguals,” Olulade said. “Thus we conclude that the management of two spoken languages in the same modality, rather than simply a larger vocabulary, leads to the differences we observed in the Spanish-English bilinguals.”

The research team says their findings adds to the growing understanding of how long-term experience with a particular skill — in this case management of two languages — changes the brain.

A Jalopy

  • A puro huevo – with a lot of effort
  • Colado – a part crasher or someone who has not been invited
  • Culo de gasolina – a woman who will not go out with a guy unless he owns a car (vulgar).
  • Enjachar – to make a face at someone. Hacerle una cara means the same.
  • Estar como una uva – to be well
  • Famositico – famous
  • Guato – dog Perro, Gua-gua and zaguate are also used here
  • Lámpara – an excuse
  • Maricucha – slang for marijuana
  • Mechudo – long, unkept hair
  • Perol – an old car on a jalopy
  • Ponerle pecho en tierra – to arrest. Literally it means to put someone facedown on the ground.
  • Ratero – a thief
  • Resfriado – literally means to have a cold but it can also mean to be resentful
  • Sacarse la rifa – to screw up
  • Sacarle el menudo a alguien – to amaze someone
  • Ser un jamón – to be easy. Jamón can also mean an odd job or ham.
  • Troles – slang for feet
  • Zarandear – to scold
Enjachar – to make a face at someone
Enjachar – to make a face at someone

Costa Rican Jail Lingo

Every country has its own slang and Costa Rica is no exception. Tiquismos and Pachuquismos are two types of local slang which are spoken by many, especially the country’s young people. In fact, in Costa Rica prison inmates actually have their own separate jargon that is used for almost any daily situation they may encounter.

Here are some of the terms used in the country’s prisons.

  • Abanico is the entrance to any cell block where the guards are stationed.
  • Abaniquero is the guard who works at the abanico.
  • Arrollado is when an inmate is kicked out of a cell block.
  • Barco is used to describe a newly arrived prisoner.
  • Barco can also mean drugs or any other item that is smuggled into a jail illicitly.
  • Bomba actually means “bomb” or “pump” in proper Spanish. However, in jail slang it is anything people on the outside bring to a person in jail like food or clothing.
  • Bombero is the officer or guarda who delivers food.
  • Cable is any document sent to a prisoner form the jail’s administrators.
  • Cabo is any prisioner who works for another.
  • Campana is any individual who warns others if a guard is approaching or a type of look out.
  • Cobacha is a sheet inmates use to make a type of tent with which they cover their bunks to have privacy.
  • Galeta is a place where things are hidden.
  • Jachudo is the inmate who is the leader of a cell block.
  • Mandadero is an errand boy.
  • Mandarse is a verb used when two prisoners have a fight with a knife.
  • Nicho is the bottom part of a bunk.
  • Palomar is the top part of a bunk.
  • Pasarela is when a guard makes an unannounced visit to a cell.
  • Pasonazo is someone who transports something illegal from one place to another like drugs.
  • Los perros are the inmates who protect Jachudo or head of all of the inmate population.
  • Rancho is any type of prison food or meal.
  • Rayado is the head of security in a jail.
  • Seño is a female guard.