In Spanish there’re a lot of ways to say just about everything. Between synonyms and slang, a verb as simple as “comer” (to eat) can be confusing for foreigners and students; and even more so when the word for feeding oneself can mean very different things in different places. Take a look at some examples:
Bajonear: This is the word “to eat” in El Salvador, but in Bolivia it means “to lower one’s spirits.” In Colombia it’s important to be especially careful when using this word because it can also mean “to hit someone.”
Clavar: This one means “to eat in excess” in Argentina; but in Spain it can also mean “to pay excessively for something” or “to rip off.”
Jalar: In Spain, this one means “to eat something quickly;” however, in Ecuador it is synonymous with “to tolerate” and in Argentina it’s something like “inhale.”
Papear: This word “to eat” is used a lot in Spain and Peru; but don’t even think about using it in Colombia where it means “to fool someone.”
Yantar: This slang term is very popular in Spain and Ecuador. When someone says someone is “de buen yantar” they mean, not only does that person like to eat, but that they are also a total foodie. But in other places, they still use “yantar” to mean “to pay tribute to.”
Zampar: This one is used in Honduras, Peru and Spain; but in Venezuela it means “to have intimate relations.”
And to all of these verbs, we should add some expressions and idioms, which are pretty funny to a lot of people, or at the very least, interesting…
Tener buen saque: This expression has come to mean “to have a good appetite” or a predisposition to eat a lot. That being said, it’s not a good idea to use the expression in Argentina, where it means something like “someone deserves a good smack.”
Comer como una lima: If someone eats a lot and very quickly, you could use this phrase to compare them with the tool used to file down metals (in Spanish “lima” also means “file”); but “lima” also means lime, the fruit that’s similar to a lemon, which obviously doesn’t devour anything.
Comer a dos carrillos: If you’ve ever had a hamster and seen it store seeds in its cheeks, you’ll know what this expression is talking about (it translates literally to “eat with two cheeks”). However, keep in mind that in some places “carillo” also means “pulley.”
We hope we haven’t confused you with all of these synonyms, but as you can see, Spanish is a “very flavorful” language.
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