Art and Culture

Dominican English Dictionary: Clavo

This post is also available in: Spanish

23727463929572.A1YDaCc82HFkjOyp1YeU_height640A new week means a new word… better said a new Dominican word! We hope this week has been wonderful, and full of learning, so as a bonus to you all, here we add a little fun knowledge of the Dominican language.

Our hope is to facilitate a better understanding between Dominicans and foreigners, which is why we’re bring you one Dominican word per week, to help you comprehend our unusual yet creative form of speech.

The word of this week is “clavo”, which in the general Spanish language means”nail” – a piece of metal used to assemble or hold objects, but in Dominican slang it is used to express a certain amount of money that someone saved to use when they need it. This expression is most often used when the saved money has been kept a secret.


“Clavo” means “money kept in secret be be used when needed” or simply “saved money”.

Example 1:

Dominican 1: ¡Vamos para el cine! / Let’s go to the movies!

Dominican 2: No, puedo ir. Toy en olla. / I can’t go. I’m broke

Dominican 1: ¡Tú tienes tu clavo por ahí! ¡Así que sácalo! / You have some saved money! So, use it!

[“Toy en olla” is another Dominican expression… it means “I’m broke”]

Example 2:

Dominican 1: ¿Y María está clavá como siempre? / What about María with her money-savings as always?

Dominican 2: Sí, ¡Tú sabes que ella siempre tiene su clavo, para los imprevistos! / Yes, you know she always has her savings, for the unforeseen!

*Synonyms: savings, reserve, money-saving.
(You can substitute the word “clavo” for any of the synonyms stated above).

So far we have learnt jumo, guayarse, deguabinao, jartura, yeyo, chepadiqueempepillar, moriqueta, decricaje, motete, pinta, timbí, therefore if you missed out on any of your classes you have time to catch up by clicking on any of the links found above.

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