Cada vez que ríes, un clavo es removido de tu ataúd. (Every time you laugh, a nail is removed from your coffin.) — Honduran proverb
Laughter really is the best medicine, and travel can give us plenty of things to laugh about.
When we think of Spanish-speaking countries to explore, many travelers don’t consider Honduras.
Honduras just isn’t a typical tourist destination for most of us.
And do you know what? It’s a shame, really, that this beautiful Central American country is so often overlooked. Despite the dire, sometimes frightening news reports, it’s a great place to experience!
It’s a spot that gives visitors plenty to smile about.
Before you visit, pack some Honduran Spanish words and phrases into your bag, so you can mingle with the locals and get the most of your trip.
Let’s get to know Honduras and the Spanish that’s spoken there!
What to Do in Honduras
Attractions abound, so if you have the spirit of adventure in your personality, this is a super destination to get your fill of fun.
Topping the must-see list is Copán, one of the most intriguing Mayan sites known to exist. So if you’re fascinated by ancient civilizations and exploring breathtaking ruins, put this one on your bucket list.
Interested in one of the world’s premier diving spots? Then Roatán is calling you!
Or if you’re just looking to get back to nature and find a peaceful vibe, the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve can’t be topped.
Whether you’re a nature lover, explorer, history buff or foodie, Honduras has you covered! I know someone who hits up Honduras just to satisfy his cravings for baleadas and semisitas. And if you’re wondering, they do taste as good as they sound!
The point is, this country offers lots to see, do and even taste.
What Honduran Spanish Sounds Like
The official language of Honduras is Spanish, often called more specifically Honduran Spanish. The language and culture show solid influence from the Mayan heritage of the people who have occupied that area for so long. The ancient Maya civilization hasn’t been forgotten and still thrives in many Central American countries.
Hondurans use the voseo form of verb conjugation rather than the tuteo form most of us are familiar with. This simply means that vos (you) takes the place of the second person pronoun—instead of tu (you). A few other countries use this conjugation variance, most notably Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.
Along with the unique Honduran Spanish, what can you expect to hear in Honduras? You’ll hear slang—and lots of it! The word for Honduran slang is caliche. It’s also the term used for slang in some other countries, like Guatemala and El Salvador.
And don’t forget: In Honduras, you’ll hear some very common expressions—like the ones we’re going to learn here!
Why Learn Honduran Spanish Expressions When You Already Speak Spanish?
Let’s face it. When we travel we want to immerse ourselves in a culture as much as possible. Learning a few local words and expressions helps us accomplish that.
Besides, local idioms are fun. Sometimes silly, sometimes slightly off-color, they tell a lot about how laid-back or inviting the locals are.
Knowing how to use a word here and a phrase there helps us blend when visiting. Feel local, sound local—it’s part of a great experience, isn’t it?
One of the biggest reasons to learn some Honduran phrases is that it makes it more pleasant to chat with locals. Whenever I travel to a new country I try to grab a couple of local phrases to use as icebreakers and, believe me, the people I meet always appreciate the effort.
Knowing a couple of words or phrases increases your odds of making friends because you’re able to engage with people better. And those small relationships we build during travel definitely help to enhance global peace through communication. We’re all global citizens!
If you feel like your Spanish could use some prep before you study Honduran Spanish, specifically, you can always bring the immersion to you with FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Use FluentU’s annotated subtitles, interactive vocabulary lists, flashcards and more to brush up on your Spanish before you embark on your language-learning journey!
Start Learning Honduran Spanish with 6 Common Words and Phrases
Catracho or catracha is synonymous with the term “Honduran.”
Hondureños is the proper term for a Honduran person but locals prefer—and use—the term catracho.
Remember, Spanish has both masculine and feminine forms so catracho refers to a male while catracha references a female.
So a local might say, “Yo soy catracho.” (“I am Honduran.”)
2. Eso es harina de otro costal.
“That’s flour from another sack” is the literal translation but no one’s talking about baking goods when they say this!
While this translates to flour being in another sack (or bag), in local conversation it means “that’s another matter.”
Looking for a way out of answering a question or explaining a private situation? Just shrug and say, “Eso es harina de otro costal.” It should do the trick!
Pisto is a slang term for money.
It’s also used in a few other spots, like Guatemala and El Salvador, to casually reference dinero (money).
If you’re browsing some high-end shops, the price tags might exceed your travel budget. In that case, they’re talking pisto loco (crazy money) which means—you guessed it—a lot of money!
A side note about this word? In Mexico, pisto is a slang term that can refer to beer.
“Close friend” never sounded as pretty as it does when you use this Honduran word!
Calling someone your alero (alera for women) is like saying they’re your BFF.
It’s a term of endearment that indicates a dear relationship.
Who knows? You may go solo to Honduras and get so cozy with the locals that might be lucky enough to find your own alero! After all, everyone needs a best friend.
If you do, shout it to the world like this: “¡Tengo un nuevo alero!” (“I have a new best friend!”)
5. ¡Vaya pues!
This short phrase literally translates to “Go, then!”
It’s not meant to chase anyone away, though! It’s used to indicate sincere agreement or to end conversations.
It’s pretty much like saying “Okay! Bye!”
It’s used so often there’s even a song titled “Vaya Pues”.
The slang term for “dog” sounds so friendly!
Yes, you’ll hear perro (dog) used in conversation but if someone refers to their chucho you’ll know they’ve got a fuzzy companion.
It’s interesting to note that there are other countries that favor this word, too. Spain and some Central American countries also give their dogs this sweet moniker.
Be careful, though: In various other Latin American countries like Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Panama and Mexico, chucha is actually used as a slang term for the female lady bits. That’s probably not what you want to call your dog. Context is everything!
Now that we’ve gotten a few Honduran words and phrases under our collective belts, I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve never been to Honduras. It’s part of my overall plan to visit the beautiful country but so far, it’s just a dream.
But I was so intrigued by the place and by the experience of writing this post, I interviewed a friend for information. Actually, there were several interviews that took place—over some incredible homemade Honduran meals.
I learned a lot and now one of his favorite expressions, passed down from his Honduran grandmother, has become part of my thinking, too:
Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. (A shrimp that goes to sleep/is sleeping is carried away by the current.)
He says that when someone says this in Honduras it means you shouldn’t wait. Take an opportunity before being swept off like the sleeping shrimp.
So if you have an opportunity to visit Honduras? Take it!
Don’t be swept away like the sleeping shrimp!
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