11 Dominican Slang Expressions and Words to Learn

Post Updated: July 8th, 2018

Spanish vocabulary can vary greatly between countries. Using the vocabulary of one country in another can draw weird looks or result in confusion or even an insult.

Learning the vocabulary and slang of the country in which you plan to spend time, will help you become more immersed in the culture.

Plus, you will fit right in with the locals and will be more easily accepted and trusted.

DR Slang Words

Download the 1-Page PDF of the Dominican Slang Words Cheat Sheet. 

11 Common Dominican Slang Expressions to Learn

Dominican Slang words

In each South America country that I have lived in (Bolivia, Argentina, and Colombia), I did my best to learn the local expressions and dialect of the words being spoken.

The vocabulary helped me to not only understand my native friends better, but to also feel more integrated into daily conversations. Lastly, it showed that I cared.

Even if you do not plan to go to a Spanish speaking country soon, it can be fun to learn different slang expressions and see how the meaning of words varies between countries.

In this article, I will explain 11 popular Dominican slang words and expressions.

1) Vaina

Vaina is a word that is either neutral or derogatory, but never positive. So you want to be careful with how you use it.

Dominican Slangs

Vaina has four main meanings. It can be translated as thing, stuff or something, such as “Esa vaina es fea”, which signifies that thing is ugly.

Vaina can also be used as an exclamation, such as “¡De vaina¡”, which means by chance! Or “¡Qué vaina!”, which signifies darn it.

Thirdly, it can carry the sense that someone thinks they are better than someone else.  “Echar vaina” means to brag and “privar en vaina” means to be arrogant.

Finally, “Tratar de vaina” means to treat someone with indifference. As you can tell “vaina” is a very useful word. There is a reason we put this as #1 on our list!

2) Bacano

This is a popular Colombian slang phrase, but also very popular in the Dominican Republic (DR).  Bacano has the same meaning as bacán in Chile when referring to an object.

If something is bacano, then it is really good and the person likes it a lot. You can also say “¡Qué bacano!”, which means how great!  That’s a common expression that you can use all over Latin America and people will understand you.

If a person is bacano, then they are good at doing something that is difficult. Finally, bacano can also translate as dude in the sense “Bacano, vamos”. Native Domicans use this one to signify dude, let’s go.

3) Colmado

Spanish phrases for Restaurants

Colmado is a useful word to know if you are in the DR and are looking for a quick snack. A colmado is a small corner store or a convenience store.

If you go to the DR, you will see many colmados.

4) Concho

Concho is another good word to know when traveling to the DR. Concho is a car or motorcycle used for transportation in the Dominican Republic.

In all my time in South America, I have never heard this one used, so it truly is a Dominican-specific word.

Looking for a fun way to get around the DR and hang with the locals?

Grab a concho.

5) Yala

Yala is probably one of my favorite Dominican slangs.  This is a common word used in informal settings around friends.

It's a common way to say, "okay." If something is okay or alright, then “yala” is the word you want to use.

So next time you want to say “okay” in the DR make sure to use “yala”.

6) Dime a ver

Best Spanish Phrases for Travel

Dime a ver literally translates as “tell me so I can see”, but has the meaning of what’s up?

Just like in English, the phrase “What’s up?” is used all over the world.

Dominicans usually want to know what is going on with you. So next time you hear “¿Dime a ver?” you will be ready and able to tell what is going on with you.

7) Que Lo Que

Tired of using played out Spanish greeting phases, like, "¿Qué Tal?" or "¿cómo estás?"

Why not try a local Dominican favorite, "¿Que lo que?"

"Que lo que" is a very popular Dominican slang word to use around friends to ask essentially, "what's going on?" It's a simple Dominican slang phrase that you can easily use anywhere in the DR.

So next time you come into contact with a Dominican friend make sure to use the phrase, "¿Que lo que?" and be ready to be amazed by their giddy excitement.

8) Nítido

Nítido comes from the English word “neat” and carries the same meaning as in “great” or “cool”.

You can say “¡Qué nítido!” if you see something you like or if someone tells you a great story.

I like this phrase a lot and especially like that it is easy to remember as it practically has the word neat in it.

9) Lengua larga

DR slang expressions

Lengua larga literally translates to “long tongue”.

However, it refers to a talkative person or even at times refers to someone who is an outright liar.

It came about because someone who is constantly talking always has their tongue out of their mouth and as expected is often stretching the truth.

Having a lengua larga isn't the most flattering of comments so be careful with which Dominican friend you say has a lengua larga.

10) Dame dato…

Dame dato literally translates to “give me a piece of information”.

Dominicans use this phrase when they want you to tell them about something. Next time you need to get more information you can say “dame dato”.

11) En olla

Puerto Rican money

En olla literally means “in the cooking pot”, but refers to being broke.

Estoy en olla; no puedo ir al bar” signifies “I am broke; I cannot go to the bar.” Nobody wants to be en olla.


Dominican slang

Dominican Spanish is full of its own unique slang words and expressions just like every Spanish-speaking country.

If you really want to get a good understanding of a country and start blending in like a local, you will need to start using words like a local.

This list of 11 Dominican slang expressions and words to learn is a good starting point for learning Dominican slang. Some of the words are useful if you are traveling, while others you are more likely to use and hear others if you hang out with Dominicans.

If you plan to go to the Dominican Republic or if you have Dominican friends, try using a few of the slang words and expressions listed above. But be careful with vaina!

Even if your Spanish is not the best, people will like that you are trying to learn and speak not only Spanish, but also their version of it. They will warm up to you quicker and you will soon will blend right in with your Dominican friends.

DR Slang Words

Download the 1-Page PDF of the Dominican Slang Words Cheat Sheet. 

15 thoughts on “11 Dominican Slang Expressions and Words to Learn”

  1. I grew up in DR. I’m cuban. Lengua larga most closely resembles being a liar. Kind of like: you talk too much and you always stretch the truth.

  2. WOW ALL IS TRUE….. Soy de la República Dominicana y todas estas palabras que se detallan aqui, son muy usadas por los jovenes dominicanos. yo particularmente uso algunas… Saludos desde DR.

  3. Agrego además, lo siguiente: “Que Lo Que”, se abrevia a menudo con “KLK” y significa lo mismo.

    Es mas común ver “KLK”, en lugar de “Que Lo Que”.

    Saludos nueva vez desde DR.

  4. I was born and raised in the DR, but now live in the US. This is a very good list, but there are a couple things I’d like to point out.

    “Concho” can also be used as a PG version of “coño” (literal translation “cunt” or “pussy”, but it’s used like the word “shit”, to express frustration). Concho has some variations like “cónchole” or “cónchale”, to also express frustration at different situations.

    I agree with Luis, that “lengua larga” refers more to a liar than anything else.

    Last point, “yala” is not a word I was familiar with. Maybe it is a newer one that didn’t make it as part of my vocabulary (I moved out of the DR 15 years ago, but visit every year).

    Thank you for this great list, though. I’ll remember it when I need to explain Dominican to my friends.

    • I agree, pero también es un término árabe que se puede emplear como anda, vamos y se hizo muy popular por las telenovelas y series del Medio Oriente!💚☀️🌴

    • Yalla is more of an Arabic thing. It literally means “hey God” (“ya” means “hey”, but is in general used when directly addressing someone, and “Allah” means god). But in usage, Yalla means “let’s go” or “come on already.” It ranges from a patient “I am ready” to an impatient “come on already!” It all depends on the context. But it can also be used to show that you are very excited or looking forward to something.

      I’ve heard it used by a Puerto Rican former coworker of once. She said it was commonly used among the Boricuans she was raised with. But other Puerto Ricans I’ve asked have never heard of it. And it goes without saying, I’ve never heard a Dominican use the term once. But Arabic speakers use the term all the time. It’s also popular among Israelis (Modern Hebrew).

  5. Yala is super common among New York / New Jersey Dominican been listening yala since like 2008 so its not that new or that old i think it came more popular with the Dominican rapper El Lapiz, but yes Yala is a know Dominican word that means Exactly Ok or Tato its common in NY/NJ Area.

  6. Another super popular dominicanismo is “un chin”. It means “a little bit”.

    Also, the best part of the rice is the concon- the crunchy cooked part from the bottom of the pot.

  7. Im mixed with boricua y dominicano, im kinda different myself since i grew up in california and not in the east. But i hear most of these words alot from my mom and aunts who are dominican. And my dad being puerto rican. But all in all pretty cool!


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