Speaking Nica

Around midday, those of us that don’t go home for lunch gather at a small concrete table at the edge of the Center to chat, eat and laugh. We talk about everything from religion to politics. For me, lunches at the Center have also served as an intensive class in Nicaraguan slang. Over the past year, I’ve picked up a good number of Nicaraguan dichos (sayings) from my co-workers. Here are a few of my favorites:

Hervir nacatamales

Literal translation: Boil nacatamales (a Nicaraguan tamale)

Meaning: Snore

Echarse un pelón

Literal translation: Throw a bald man

Meaning: Take a nap

Matar el tigre

Literal translation: Kill the tiger

Meaning: Eat

Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente

Literal translation: Eyes that don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel

Meaning: What you don’t see, won’t hurt you

Se lo digo a Juan para que lo entienda Pedro

Literal translation: I tell it to Juan so that Pedro will understand

Meaning: When you tell someone something to transmit the message passive aggressively to another person present

Hijo del tigre sale rallado

Literal translation: Son of the tiger comes out striped

Meaning: Like father, like son

El que anda con lobos aullar aprende

Literal translation: He who runs with wolves learns to howl

Meaning: You pick up the habits of the people you spend time with


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