I recently read a post about "en territorio comanche". It put me wondering if some phrases are still used widely? If they are, whether they are still appropriate. I mean some may be better than others, some may be interesting given their historical and cultural significance and background. Others may be more controversial or even racist from a modern viewpoint.

I know "no hay moros en la Costa" exists as well as "el moro viejo nunca será buen cristiano". In English, I am sure there are many such as,"to be put in a paddywagon" referencing the Irish "paddies" who were arrested for being drunk etc. in the 19th and 20th century in America. As an Irish person, I don't find it offensive because I am sure there were some disorderly people as well as well-behaved Irish people. A fact. It is just interesting to think of such examples across the board. I would like to see examples and opinions.

  • 1
    Note that your assumption about the etymology of paddy-wagon is far from certain. Etymonline suggests it may come from the fact that apparently many policemen at the time were Irish, although I have found other sources with the same claim you mention. At the very least, it isn't clear.
    – terdon
    Mar 25 at 16:47
  • Do you have a problem with punctuation? Are you on a mobile?
    – Lambie
    Mar 25 at 18:05
  • @terdon Yes, that is a distinct possibility.Definitely, in New York ,there were plenty of Irish in the police force.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 25 at 20:44
  • @Lambie. No,I have no problem with punctuation. I use it regularly.Thanks for asking.
    – Bluelion7
    Mar 25 at 20:46
  • I will do my edit of the punctuation and spaces for you to see. By the way, I rejected the language edit. "put me wondering" was changed to "got me wondering", but I see no reason for that. :)
    – Lambie
    Mar 25 at 22:17

1 Answer 1


Seguro, en Castellano hay unas cuantas frases de uso comun, cuya inercia historico-cultural da cuenta del sesgo de racismos y prejuicios sociales extendidos (inconscientes) en el empleo cotidiano. Para ejemplificar, cito Sure, there are a few of those compromised phrases in Spanish, reflecting the unconscious racial bias of cultural and historical roots. I may cite:

Trabajar como (un) negro
To work like a black man (slave)

La analogía no necesita mayor explicación, y se basa en la práctica histórica (por centurias) de la explotación de personas secuestradas de Africa, que las potencias coloniales emplearon como fuerza de trabajo en sus enclaves ultramarinos. The analogy does not need much explanation. With its quite straightforward meaning based off the historical exploitation of African slaves (during centuries) by European empires in their overseas colonies.

Puede ser interesante listar además un término muy particular tambien, —no racista pero derivado de la cultura negra— my usado en Argentina coloquialmente para significar "problema" y/o (altísimo nivel de) "desorden" Forma parte del lunfardo rioplatense y del habla cotidiana, con un uso extendido a otros paises sudamericanos como Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia y Bolivia. Proviene de la palabra Angolesa "kilombo" (que significa campamento de guerra, donde los esclavos "cimarrones" —emancipados— se establecian) El tono de uso es, diría, jocoso, para referir a conflictos, situaciones complejas, muy desordenadas o salidas de control. Another interesting one, used in some parts of south America (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia and Bolivia ) in everyday conversation, to mean "brothel", and mainly "problem" and/or significantly out-of-proportion mess" . Though does not have direct racist connotations it comes from the Kimbundu word "kilombo" (war camp)[2]. In Argentina, I'd say, the term has a hilarious —almost festive— tone, to humorously describe "problem", something quite "out of control" and "in a stage of severe disarray".

La palabra The word


da pie a muchas expresiones de uso muy corriente relacionadas con problemas o desordenes extremos forms rather common expressions related to conflict and problems in chaotic stages:

Qué quilombo (... es todo esto / se va a armar / se volvió nuestra vida / etc)

What a real mess ... (all this is / things are going to turn into / our life has became / etc)

PD: En el lunfardo porteño/rioplatense a "quilombo" se lo conoce como bolonqui (al revés)

PS: In [the argot of Buenos Aires and Uruguay][3], the word "quilombo" may be put backwards, as "bolonqui"

  • 1
    You don't exactly provide the word, which by the way, is not an expression. ! Qué quilombo! [I saw a series about jail in Argentina and in the Spanish sub-titles, they spelled it like that.] But there's nothing really racist about it. It's also used in Colombia.
    – Lambie
    Mar 25 at 22:24
  • Corrected @Lambie, I added the common expressions that word is included in
    – ipp
    Mar 25 at 23:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.