Every time I've heard the expression Epa!", I've taken it to be just some kind of greeting or expressive word, similar to "¡Hola!", "¡Venga!" and equivalent to English expressions like "Hey!".

I've seen it being used by people from northern Spain and Latin America, and even some friends of mine use it regularly as just a greeting (or so I think).

However, while listening to Silvio Rodríguez the other day, I noticed that he uses "epa" here and there in his political songs, and I know that he is a well-known left-leaning figure. And while pondering on what that meant, I realized that my aforementioned friends who use this word are also left-leaning. So I wondered if maybe "epa" was some kind of "inside word" or had any kind of political connotation (like, say, "camarada"). Maybe it was used during some uprising (there were many in LATAM throughout the last century) and now it carries that baggage -- I don't really know, but I'd like to.

The DLE says nothing about political connotation, just that it is used as an encouragement word in some LATAM countries (leaving out Spain, which I find weird because it is used in Spain):


  1. interj. Bol., Chile, El Salv., Méx. y Perú. U. para animar.
  2. interj. Bol., Méx. y Perú. U. para detener o avisar de algún peligro.
  3. interj. Bol., Méx. y Ven. hola.

So, back to the question: does the word "epa" have some kind of political connotation? Should it be avoided by people trying to speak "neutral" Spanish?

PLEASE NOTE: This question is NOT about politics. It is about the historic and current use of a very specific word. Please avoid making political statements in answers or comments, thanks.

  • I imagine LATAM socialists used the word a lot in the 20th century. Not because the word is particularly politically loaded, but because of its meaning number 2. Oct 16 '17 at 19:23
  • Any song in particular, walen ?
    – VeAqui
    Oct 16 '17 at 20:30
  • I cannot find any regional, specific meaning for Cuba in DAMER: lema.rae.es/damer/?key=epa In Canción urgente para Nicaragua I hear it once and, to me, it just sounds as an interjection to express the 2nd meaning you give in the question: avisar de algún peligro. Oct 17 '17 at 9:20
  • The DLE doesn't mention Argentina, where the meaning is close to no. 2. The closest equivalent in English would be "Whoa!". No political connotation whatsoever.
    – pablodf76
    Oct 17 '17 at 12:31
  • En el norte, sería 2, básicamente, según la definición en asturiano y gallego. DALlA: inter. que se diz cuando daqué o daquién va cayer, p’acompañar un movimientu que se fai a un neñu. DRAG: Exclamación que se utiliza para avisar alguén de que teña coidado. Seguramente si el uso no está extendido en el resto de la península, sería por interferencia/influencia de las otras lenguas. (no sé si en euskera/catalán/aragonés es parecido) Oct 17 '17 at 17:22

Acabo de terminar de escuchar la canción y no, no es ningún tipo de connotación política la palabra "¡Epa!" en este caso y de ninguna manera, en algún otro. Este tipo de expresiones o palabras se utilizan para dar énfasis al sentimiento o estado de animo de la canción.

En México se utilizan mucho, y son muy utilizadas en canciones de Mariachi aunque mayormente se usan los "gritos mexicanos", en la parte de Occidente de México, se conocen como "guacos", desconozco el resto de México.

Puedes ver mucho de estos ejemplos en vídeos de Pedro Infante como Copa tras copa (0:02), Me canse de rogarle (0:04) o Coplas de retache (0:28).

¿Deberías evitarla? No necesariamente, deberías aprender a usarla en la ocasión en la que estés. Puedes usar los casos que te da la DLE. Incluso lo más próximo al significado es "para animar" la canción.

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