Cuban words you can use

These Cuban words are sprinkled throughout this site. They are words that you'll encounter in Cuba.


Batido – a street drink made of ice, fresh fruit, milk and sugar

Bolsa – the black market; illegal market featuring low-priced goods

CADECA – short form of Casa de Cambio or money-changing booth

Café Americano - American-style coffee served in a coffee cup with milk

Café con leche – an espresso is poured into a cup and topped with hot milk

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Campesino = country/countryside (both noun and adjective; e.g. a country man, a country dweller, a country lunch)

Carné - Cuban identity card or any membership identity card

Carro - car

Casa del habanos – Cigar Shop

Casas particulares – Government-approved accommodation in a private home

Chancletas - flip flops

Chicharrones – Pieces of pig fat are fried till crisp and delicious; crackling

Coquito acaramelado – boiled sweet made of cocoa, sugar and coconut

Cubita – brand name of one of Cuba’s most popular coffees

Ensalada – salad, usually slivered cabbage with carrot and tomato. Any dish prepared and served cold to accompany meals and drinks, or to replace a meal with family/friends at meetings or celebrations.

Flaco - thin (flaquito; skinny, used as an affectionate form of address)

Guarapo – juice extracted from the sugar cane and served with “ground” ice; also any extremely sweet or sweetened drink.

Guardabolsa, Guardabolsos – sign at the bag check before entering a shop. Sign and office with pigeonholes to have the customers’ bags kept while they are in shop.

Guayabera – a traditional man’s linen loose lightweight shirt popular in Cuba, Miami, Panama and the rest of the tropical Caribbean.

Guagua - bus

Habaneros – natives of the city of Havana

Habano or puro – authentic Cuban cigar

Jinetera/jinetero – literally means jockey but is slang for a hustler

Jugo natural – a drink made from boiled fruit plus sugar

Maní – roasted and unshelled peanuts (sold in a white paper cone)

Paladar (una/la) - a government-approved restaurant run from the family home

Pulóver - t-shirt

Raspadura – boiled sugar sold in chunks similar to maple sugar

Refresco – a sugary drink similar to Kool-Aid

Tenis - sneakers, running shoes

Un cafecito – the intense espresso served with sugar and beloved by Cubans

Babalawo – a priest of Santería

Changó – the god of thunder

Orisha – a saint or god in Santería

Santero – a practitioner of Santería

Yin - blue jeans

Cuban slang NEXT >

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