Today, I’ll show you 7 popular Dominican slang terms and phrases that will give you an insight into the way we Dominicans express ourselves. 

1) Vaina

If you’ve ever heard any Dominican speak, “vaina” filled your ears at least 200 times per sentence.

Vaina can’t be directly translated into English, which can make it hard for non-Dominicans to utilize it, since it means “thing” it can be used nearly anywhere in a sentence. Like:

  • Dame esa vaina! (Give me that thing)
  • Me va a dar una vaina (I’m going to come down with something/pass out)
  • ¡Que vaina! (Damn, what a bunch of crap) - This is used to complain.
  • Deja esa vaina (Leave that alone)
  • Me gusta echar vaina (I like to flaunt)

Did you forget to say anything in Spanish? Just point at it and call it vaina and based on context clues any Dominican will easily understand you. 

2) Baraja / Barajar

Barajar means to shuffle, usually when speaking about playing cards. But we use it quite differently. Are you the type of person that typically cancels plans last minute? Then that means you are always barajando.

To barajar means to scrap something. Whether it is plans of going out or a certain offer that you don’t want to accept. 

Is there a certain person that has a crush on you and keeps confessing their dying love? Tell them “Baraja eso” (Scrap that) and he won’t ask you out again. 

3) En olla

Being “en olla” is probably a situation we can all relate to after the pandemic; it means to be broke. The literal definition of “en olla” is to be in a pot, relating to how being broke is a horrible pot-boiling hot situation, almost like hell. But we’ll make it through this guys!

4) Aficiao’/a’

Being “aficiao’” is definitely something we have all been before. The literal definition of aficiado is to be asphyxiated, but we use it to describe someone that is head over heels over someone. You can call yourself this if you are extremely in love with someone. Know that being aficiao’ is more than just a crush, it’s when you fall HARD!

Ex: Diablo loco, estoy aficiao’ de esa tipa, no sé que hacer. (Damn dude, I’m head over heels over that chick, I don’t know what to do)

5) Quillao’/a’

Quillao’ is a word that is used a lot by Dominicans especially those that get angry very easily, which are many by the way (including myself). You say you or someone is “quillao’” when you are pretty mad, annoyed, and/or irritated. For example, the number #1 person that can make me instantly quillao’ is my sister. 

Who easily angers you?

Ex: Ese tipo me quilla solo mirándolo. (That dude angers me just by looking at him)

6) Popi 

If you ever go to Santo Domingo and enjoy the main areas where you can find all luxurious malls, cars, and restaurants; you will definitely run into some popis. Popis are those young Dominicans that belong to a much higher social class, due to their money, last name’s legacy, private school, living area, car, etc.

Classism is quite common in the Dominican Republic which is something that many don’t realize or take action on, unfortunately, classism is not taken seriously as a social issue and silly labels like ‘popi’ are created to lighten the situation.

7) Wawawa

Finally, we have “Wawawa” which is the opposite of “popi”. This word was made popular by famous urban artists like El Mayor and Rochy RD. This word is used to describe those that live in “los barrios”, which are the more urban areas of the country.

Wawawa, in general, has quite different hobbies and ways of expression from Popis which usually can create some separation when socializing between these social classes. But using words like Wawawa and Popi can soften the division, looking at more of a positive outlook on classism as a social issue in the Dominican Republic. 

That’s it!

Those are 7 iconic Dominican slang terms but of course, that’s not even 1/4 of all of them, I will let you learn the rest when you visit my beautiful country, it is an unforgettable experience for everyone that gets to step foot into the beautiful island (the most beautiful in my opinion but I might be biased).