I try to keep a list of new Spanish words I learn. Sometimes the way I learn them is more interesting (and funny) than the words themselves. Here are a few that may be unique to Puerto Rico or were just new to me. Many of them have false cognates or multiple meanings which confused me at first. While I consider myself to be fluent in Spanish I am constantly learning. I don’t think it will ever stop.
Mañosa – A picky or spoiled female person. When I won’t eat much of a certain food like fried foods, I sometimes get called this. But I thought at first it had something to do with my hands (manos).
Changa/Changona – Prideful woman who likes things a certain way. In the same vein as mañosa, this is another term of affection when vacilando y bromeando (having fun and joking) with each other. Chango/changa can also mean monkey, so I thought they were calling me a monkey!
Comelón – Glutton/pig. On the other hand, Britton eats just about anything and is called the comelón. Giving silly nicknames to each other is a fun game here.
Revolú – Puerto Rican word for a big mess. This is a very handy word for a literal mess or a figurative one. I think it probably comes from revolution. Which would probably cause a big mess at first.
Pantallas -Earrings. I had only heard of pantalla as a screen, but here they can also apparently be dangling earrings.
Coraje – Anger. I always thought it meant courage, but here in Puerto Rico almost always when it is used it is to describe when someone gets or got mad.
Botar – To throw out/throw away. When I first heard this I thought they were saying votar which means to vote. Perhaps nowadays in most elections voting is like throwing out the trash…haha
Echar – to pour or fill. Like when filling up with gas. Not etch like I initially thought.
Bochorno - syn: Vergüenza – Shame, guilt, embarrassment. I thought bochorno meant something about being drunk (borracho) which I supposed could happen if you get too drunk! Or buongiorno like good morning in Italy.
Dale – Go on, go ahead. This is a very useful term and often used, but when I first heard it I couldn’t help but think of someone in Spanish pronouncing the name Dale.
Menudo: This is about the funniest thing ever
Menudo – Change in your pocket. All the quarters, nickels and dimes, etc. Also the name of a famous Puerto Rican boy band that launched the career of Ricky Martin. Here menudo is not the tripe soup of Mexico like I initially thought it was! You may also hear “más a menudo” which means “more often than not.”
Chilla/chia – Woman on the side. Mistress. I was discussing how great semillas de chia (chia seeds) are for your health and my friend explained the alternative meaning of chia here in Puerto Rico! I assume it could also go for chio too. Though chillo is a type of common fish here -snapper to be exact.
Obsequio -Gift/present. I thought of the English word obsequious which has sort of a negative connotation of being submissive and servile to an extreme degree. But here the word obsequio is virtually interchangeable with regalo.
Postizo -false, fake. I had absolutely no idea what someone was talking about when they asked me in Spanish if I had fallen on my face and had to have postizos. I later learned they were asking about my teeth and saying that they looked too perfect to be real. haha.
See what I mean by how difficult learning a language like Spanish can be?! So many different meanings and cognates. Had you heard these? Did I translate and understand them correctly? Any other meanings or funny words I should be aware of? Language is yet another adventure here in Puerto Rico.