Life is complicated. Luckily, Latinos have sayings, or refrains, that help with managing expectations and making better choices. Beyond offering sound advice, some clever sayings, when dropped like jewels at just the right moment, help transform tension into laughter. While some sayings seem outdated, folk witticisms leftover from the early days, they address elements of the human condition that are timeless like love, jealousy, ingratitude, and morality. Whether deciding to stay in a long-distance relationship or looking for an old-school diss, these 20 Latino sayings are worth memorizing and dishing out the next time a golden opportunity presents itself.
Talk About Love
1. Mejor sola que mala acompañada.
Better to be alone then among bad company. This saying is great for those moments when the fear of being alone starts to kick in. More deeply, this timeless saying is also reflective of the importance of self- love.
2. Amor de lejos, felices los cuatros.
In long-distance love, four people are happy. This pessimistic proverb suggests long-distance relationships provide fertile ground for infidelity. This saying came about before technology helped couples stay more in touch than ever. And yet, the possibility remains.
3. Juntos pero no revueltos.
Together but not mixed. This dicho is the equivalent of saying, “It’s complicated.” It’s a great way to explain why a couple doesn’t live together, or why they are not married.
4. Un clavo saca otro clavo.
A nail removes the other nail. The meaning behind this refrán is that a new relationship, or lover, can help a person get over a failed relationship.
5. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Out of sight, out of mind. It’s hard to say this refrán without thinking about Alexis & Fido’s 2009 hit song.
Proceed With Caution
6. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.
Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. This saying has come out of many parents’ mouths. It’s a perfect proverb for helping a person decide what kind of company they should keep.
7. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.
The devil knows more because he is old than because he is the devil. In other words, with age comes wisdom. This saying also warns against elders who may be sly or have bad intentions.
8. Con un dedo no se tapa el sol.
The sun cannot be covered with a finger. This is a great piece of advice that addresses the way self-deception is harmful. It also calls out quick fixes that don’t serve to address larger issues.
9. En boca cerrada no entran moscas.
A closed mouth does not catch flies. This idiom more accurately translates to ‘silence is golden.’ This refrán extols the virtues of discretion.
10. El que no llora, no mama.
The baby who doesn’t cry, doesn’t get milk. This saying is akin to ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ A great refrán serving to inspire vocalization of needs and wants.
Insults Que Arden
11. A otro perro con ese hueso.
To another dog with that bone. It’s the “talk to the hand” of all the idioms. Deploy this saying at the sight of deception.
12. Se cree la última Coca Cola del desierto.
He/She thinks they are the last Coca-Cola in the desert. A third-degree burn, this little gem calls out people who think they are more attractive or desirable than everyone else.
13. Se cree mejor de la bolita del mundo.
He/She thinks they are the best in the world. The exact translation fails to convey the hilarity of this saying. While also a diss to those who think they are hot stuff, the saying reduces the entire planet into a tiny, little ball.
14. Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor!
This a saying that relies on a play on words, mala meaning bad, and peor meaning worse. The idea is that the person went from one bad situation to an even worse situation.
15. Cuando tu ibas, yo venia.
When you were coming, I was leaving. A great diss from an elder, this dicho also conveys a knowing that comes with age. It works particularly well when directed at teenagers who attempt to be deceptive but are really transparent.
For the Nostalgia and the LOLs
16. Quien fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla.
Who went to Sevilla lost his/her chair. Here is a fun phrase that relies on wordplay and rhyme.
17. Tirar las puertas por las ventanas.
Throw the doors out the windows. This is what you say when you plan to have an absolute blow out party! Think of New Year’s Eve, Cinco de Mayo, or birthdays.
18. Vete a freír papas.
Go fry potatoes. While this saying may seem like an insult, it works as a playful way to tell someone to go to hell without sounding so vulgar.
19. Por si las moscas.
For if the flies. This is more of a nostalgic phrase that means ‘just in case.’ Use it when deciding on whether or not to pack that snack bar or an umbrella.
20. Calabaza, calabaza, todo el mundo para su casa!
Pumpkin, pumpkin, everyone go home! Our final phrase is a fun way to end the fiesta, or bring the gathering to a close.
You know how *some* folks say there is no magic cure or magic pill you can take to ease life’s worries? They’re just missing out on the opioid for the Latinx masses: Vicks Vaporub (or, as our mamis call it, Vaporú). Just knowing that Vicks exists is a comfort to end all worries in our lives. Growing up Latino means being perpetually fear-mongered into thinking you’ll catch pneumonia if you leave the house without a sweater and doing it anyway because of Vicks.
All those memories of our abuelas and mamas rubbing Vicks on our bruises, mosquito bites and more are made more magical by the song they sang to us while they healed us: “Sana, sana, colita de rana.” Maybe the magic of Vicks is the “Sana, sana.” Who can say? All we know is that combined, it can cure anything. Hence, the idolization of medicine for Latinos:
The Barrio Shop sells this multi-use pillow for just $24.99. Rub Vicks under your nose and fall asleep to the eucalyptus smell that has been proven to help with sleep in children.
2. Vicks also cures all emotional pain. Going through a breakup? Apply Vicks to it and continue to cry into this pillow.
It comes with the pillow inside, but you can take off the case and wash it after a night of crying all over it. Todo bien.
3. Latinos have reliably used Vicks to induce crying for manipulative gain.
Vicks not only cures emotional pain, but it can also help you fake it. Everyone knows that novela stars would rub Vicks under their eyes before a dramatic scene because the fumes are so intense, it makes your eyes water. Everyone also knows that every Latino child has used the same method to fake a crying spell to get what we want. We’re evil geniuses like that, gracias a Vaporú.
4. We all know that just having Vicks on our person at all times is like the evil eye to injuries.
Making sure you have a tiny tube on hand helps ward off injuries. Plus, we’re ready for any bruise, blunt force trauma or freak accident, thanks to that tiny, pungent tube. Carrying mitú’s Sana Sana pin has the same warding-off properties.
5. Latinos also know not to go afuera during mosquito season without Vicks slathered all over our bodies.
Is it the smell that wards mosquitos away? We don’t know. All we know is if you get bit by a demonic mosquito that is unaffected by the holiness of Vicks, you can just rub Vicks on the bite, too, and it will cure it.
6. We also grew up laughing at expensive acne-clearing brands because Vicks could cure that anyway.
Doctors don’t advise it, but they actually don’t advise using Vicks for anything other than cough suppressant and aching joints. Puesss, what do they know?
7. Latinos grow up to be medical professionals that also swear by Vicks.
Honestly, as a patient, seeing that pin would just bestow approximately 1400 percent more trust in my medical provider. Like, I don’t want to hear about how Vicks is destroying my sense of smell or that I can’t rub it on my throat for a sore throat.
8. Instead of being cranky about a cafecito-withdrawal headache, we make more cafecito and rub Vicks into our temples.
Latinos’ relationship with cafecito is a whole other story. Por cierto, blessing your forehead with the panacea of Vicks cures us of our headaches every time. And yes, we’re better for it.
9. Who needs an expensive podiatrist to cure foot fungus when we have Vicks?
It’s hard to say whether we generally have fungus-free feet or not given that we’re never allowed to walk around barefoot, but the story goes that Vicks will cure toe fungus. The moms all say that the gel “suffocates” the fungus and it dies. Gross, but at least our feet smell great.
10. Vicks has also made Latina moms straight-up superheroes.
Wow. It must be hard for other moms to not Latina-mom levels of confidence, sponsored by Vicks Vaporub. [This post is not sponsored by Vicks Vaporub].
11. Dare we say that Vicks offers, a menos, a placebo effect to our kind?
Doctors have come out warning the Latino community that Vicks can actually worsen sunburns, acne and open, bleeding wounds. All we know is that our people are suffering less with Vicks in our lives, and pinned to our jackets, and that’s got to make us more fun to be around. :’)
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