Popular Panamanian Phrases and Idioms

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Popular Panamanian Phrases and Idioms

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If you enjoy this post don't miss my first post about Panamanian Slang Expressions here... and you can also checkout Part 2 of Spanish slang words used in Panama here...

I happen to love cultural idioms. I grew up in the “good ‘ole South” in the United States, so along with a Southern drawl, we also say some downright strange things. For example, “I had to go around my elbow to get to my thumb,” meaning I had to take the long/hard way to do something simple/easy. This is part of my heritage and culture and I definitely will be passing it along to my kids!

Every language, country, and area of the world has their own special lexicon. That’s especially true with Spanish, since it is one of the most widespread languages in the world (official language of 20 countries).

Although Spanish speakers understand each other anywhere they go (and you will too if you learn Spanish at our schools), there are definitely certain words and phrases that are unique to certain countries. Here is a fun list of Panamanian phrases or idioms that you probably won’t hear anywhere else in the world:

  1. Estar limpio (“To be clean”) = To have no money
  2. Tengo goma (“I have glue”) = I'm hungover
  3. ¡Chuleta! (“Porkchop!”) = To be surprised or upset
  4. Tirar cinta (“To throw tape”) = To tell a story or an account of something that happened
  5. Dime el bochinche (“Tell me the uproar”) = Tell me the latest gossip
  6. Te estoy reventando (“I am blowing you up”) = I am making fun of you
  7. ¡Dale cuero! (“Give it leather!”) = Do it fast!
  8. Está hablando paja (“He’s talking straw”) = He’s telling lies, saying stupid things
  9. Estoy harto (“I am fed up”) = I am super full (of food), but also I am fed up
  10. Me quemó (“She burned me”) = She cheated on me
  11. Agarrar una chiva (“Grab a goat”) = Take a small bus
  12. Pavo (“Turkey”) = Helper on the bus that collects money
  13. Estoy salado (“I am salty”) = I have bad luck or I am unlucky
  14. Chupar (“To suck”) = To drink alcohol
  15. Arrancarse (“To pull off, tear off”) = To party hard
  16. via GIPHY

  17. ¡Escuchando plena! (“Listening to the full!”) = Listening to the popular song! (typically Reggaetón music)
  18. Juegavivo (“Live game”) = Take advantage of a situation in an unfair way
  19. Mi nave (“My ship”) = My car
  20. La botaste (“You threw it away”) = That was awesome, great job
  21. Hice una cagada (“I made a shit”) = I made a mistake/error
  22. via GIPHY

  23. Vamos a hacer una vaca (“Let’s do a cow”) = Let’s take a collection of money
  24. No tiene pepitas en la lengua (“He doesn’t have pips in his tongue”) = He’s not afraid to tell the truth, say it like it is
  25. Estás en panga (“You're on a boat”) = You suck
  26. Tómate una manga larga (“Take yourself a long sleeve”) = Drink a large beer

What are your favorite Panamanian idioms? Please share with us in the comments below!

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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