Art and Culture

Dominican English Dictionary: Detaltalao

Dominican Dictionary Detaltalao

This post is also available in: Spanish

It’s time to enlighten you with a wonderful and witty word from our extensive vocabulary. The word for this week is “detaltalao” if you hang out in coro with Dominicans, I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

“Detaltalao” is easily one of the most “modified” slang words. Why? Well, because the correct form of writing the word would be “Destartalado”, but as we’ve said before, the Dominican vocabulary is wonderful, isn’t it?


Dominicans use the word “detaltalao” to refer to something broken, shattered, or in english, “ramshackle”. For instance, if a car gets run over by a truck, it would be “detaltalao” as a result. BUT… this word also has another meaning. It can be used to refer to people as well.. sometimes to say someone is really tired or exhausted.

Example 1:

Dominican 1: ¡Viejo, pero tu carro ‘tá to’ detaltalao! ¿qué pasó? / Dude, your car is a a mess, what happened?

Dominican 2: Sí, man. Le estaba enseñando a mi novia a manejar, y ya tú sabe’… / Yes, dude. I was teaching my girlfriend how to drive, and the rest is history…

Example 2:

*someone’s about to sit in a chair and another person stops them*

Dominican 1: Loco, no te siente’ ahí, esa silla ‘tá to’ detaltalá y se puede romper y caerte. / Hey, don’t sit there, that chair is broken and you could finish breaking it and falling.

Dominican 2: Gracias, man. No quisiera caerme frente a tanta gente y pasar vergüenza. / Thanks, man. I wouldn’t like falling in front of so many people, I’d be embarrassed.

Remember, so far we have learned:
jumo, guayarse, deguabinao, jartura, yeyo, chepadiqueempepillar, moriqueta, decricaje, motete, pinta, timbí, clavo, chapusero, manganzón, titua, jociador, pecozón, pariguayo, chivato, quillao, bultero, agallú, arranca’o, apero, amemaobojote, boche, tiguere, guamaso, chichón, pelelengua, batatas, and coro. If you missed out on any of your classes or forgotten a word, click the links to catch up!

To Top