Panamanian Language – Fascinating Spanish Slangs and Expressions!

Blog by Omar Fuentes.

Panamanians have a very distinctive way of speaking, there are a lot of expressions that might not make sense to you, since they actually have an alternative Panamanian meaning (slang).

Here is a list of some of the most popular Panamanian expressions that you will hear whenever you are walking on the streets of Boquete, around Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, other hotels in Panama, or going on any public transportation. We have created a short list so you can have some idea about what they are referring to.





Spanish Word

True Meaning   Panamanian Slang Meaning
Mantequilla Butter Means that is not that important, irrelevant.
Marear Get somebody dizzy Bother someone, lie just to avoid paying a debt.
Fresco Fresh Lazy person
Chilea Chill Take it easy
Goma Glue Hangover
A otro nivel To another level Better than usual
Ayala vida! Oh Life! Oh my God!
La botaste You threw it Do something that calls the attention and is funny.
Chuleta loco Pork chops crazy What a problem!
Que xopa! What’s up What’s going on?
Meto! N/A It is an expression that shows amusement on something. Most likely used in Chiriqui
Offi! Off course Sure!
Eres una botella You are a bottle Person that receives a salary without working
Cuara From the word “quarter” Twenty five cent coin
Cojelo suave Take it slow Take it easy!
Pinta Pint Beer
Transar From the word “transaction” Steal
Gial From the word “girl” Woman
Plata Silver Indicantes money
Guaro This word comes from Latin America Liquor
Chiquillo From the word chico (small) To refer to a kid
Buco From the French “beaucoup” that means a lot. A lot!
Parkiar Park (Like Parking a car) To get together and have fun
Chantin From the English word “Shanty” To refer to their home
Chance Chance Lottery bill
Vaina Sheath To refer to a specific thing
Gringo Green go! This word was used by the natives to take out any American military from their territory
Estoy salado I am salty To have bad luck
Fren Friend To refer to a friend

Some of the words that are used come from a different language that has had influence in the country during the Panama Canal construction like France and United States.

Besides Spanish, there are 5 different indigenous groups that also have their own language, which is not related with Spanish at all and most Panamanians do not know the languages.

Nicolas who is part of the team at Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast is from the Ngabe Bugle tribe (Pronounced No vay Boo glay), he stated that he learned to speak Spanish when he went to School. When he was a kid not many Ngabe Bugle spoke Spanish but nowadays only few people there do not know how to speak Spanish, most of them are bilingual.

I hope you enjoyed this post. There are some more expressions that I will share with you in future posts. So now whenever you listen to a Panamanian using any of these expressions you will have an idea of what’s going on. When you stay at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, come and talk with Omar and Nicolas about their growing up Panamanian and their languages.

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