Colombia: These Animals Are Not What You Think


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We had a live video on Friday where we talked about the other meanings of animals in Spanish. Keep in mind that I am Colombian and because Spanish is such a rich language, the meanings or uses may vary in different countries.



Here’s a summary  of the information regarding the animals and their other meanings in Colombia:


(A frog) Ejemplo: Carlos es un sapo / La vecina es una sapa.

When a person is “un sapo” or “una sapa”, it means they are a nosy person. Busybodies. They are those people who get into other people’s business and always want to know what’s going on or ask very personal and uncomfortable questions.


(A wolf) Ejemplo: ¿Viste a Camilo? ¡Qué lobo!

Even though it might sound like a compliment, when someone or something is called “lobo” you think of the word “tacky”. A person who has a bad taste or wears flashy clothes. It could also be an object that not many people would dare to use or wear. They are definitely people or objects that never go unnoticed.

Colombia: These Animals Are Not What You Think


(A parrot) For this example, we always use the feminine version of the noun: UNA LORA. Typically we would always connect it to these other words: “hablar como lora”. It basically describes a person who talks nonstop. A very talkative person.


  • (A bee). Bees are know for their hard work and many other good qualities, but if you hear the name of this animal used to describe a person in Colombia, its meaning is not as positive. When a person is “una abeja” it means they take advantage of every situation they encounter. They don’t care about other people’s rights and just want to get what they want or need. It could be someone at you job taking advantage of someone else to get a promotion, or it could be someone who thinks they’re being smarter than others by, for example, not paying their bus ticket.

Colombia: These Animals Are Not What You Think


(A wasp) For this example, we’ll use the adjective “avispado / avispada”. A person is “avispado” or “avispada” when they are clever, quick on their feet, and intelligent. They are very aware of what’s going on around them and take action typically for their benefit or their friends and families. It is different from an “abeja” because they don’t take advantage of other people.


(A fly) We’ll use this noun like this: “Estar mosca“. Estar mosca means to be aware of something. It means to keep your senses on high alert so you are aware and not in danger or at risk of something happening to you. Kind of like when you are going to hit a fly and somehow just get away!


(A camel) We’ll use these words “Camellador / camelladora” to describe a hard-working person. This person is always doing their best to bring food to the table and taking every job opportunity that comes their way. We can also use the word “un camello” to talk about something that is particularly difficult. For example, filing taxes: “Prefiero contratar a un contador para hacer mis impuestos, porque es un camello”. (I’d rather hire an accountant to file my taxes because it’s too difficult).


(A cow) We will use this noun “vaca” always with this verb: “hacer”.  So you will always see it like this “hacer vaca“. It means to raise money in order to buy something. For example, picture yourself as a teenager years ago. You’re with a group of friends and you don’t have enough money to go to the arcade, so everyone decides to put all their money together so everyone can play a couple of games.

Colombia: These Animals Are Not What You Think


(A rat) Typically in Colombia if you say someone is a rat, it means they’re thieves. Depending on the context, sometimes you can also use this animal to describe someone who’s cheated in a relationship.


(A snake) OK… You might have heard the word “SERPIENTE“. Yes, it is correct and yes, we also say “serpiente” in Colombia. However, culebra is just another word people use for this animal in all Spanish speaking countries.

This one is different from the other because it is not describing a person, but a thing. If you hear that someone has “a lot of snakes” (Tiene muchas culebras), it means they have a lot of debts and they owe money.

We hope you enjoyed this post and it helped you remember all that information! Thank you for being a member of our channel!

Muchas gracias 🙂

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