¡Ay, caramba!

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¡Ay, caramba! (pronounced: [ˈai kaˈɾamba]), from the Spanish interjections ay (denoting surprise or pain) and caramba (a minced oath, a euphemism for carajo), is an exclamation used in Spanish to denote surprise (usually positive).[1] The term caramba is also used in Portuguese.[2]

In literature and the arts[edit]

The exclamation was a signature phrase of the Madrid flamenco dancer and singer La Caramba during the 1780s. Her headdress of brightly coloured ribbons also became known as a caramba.[3][4]

In popular culture[edit]

The fictional character Bart Simpson from the American animated sitcom The Simpsons (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) used the phrase "¡Ay, caramba!" (pronounced with an American accent) when surprised. It became one of his most notable catchphrases, further popularizing the phrase in modern pop culture. For example, in the episode "Selma's Choice", Bart, Lisa, and their Aunt Selma approach a very popular ride at Duff Gardens. Upon seeing the exceptionally long line for the ride, Bart exclaims, "¡Ay, caramba!"[5]

In "The Diplomatic Corpse" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents the Mexican character Tomas Salgado (Peter Lorre) uses the phrase "caramba!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spanish-English/English-Spanish Dictionary. New York: Random House. 1999. p. 66. ISBN 0-345-40547-1. 
  2. ^ Aulete digital 
  3. ^ Carol Mikkelsen, Spanish Theater Songs -- Baroque and Classical Eras: Medium High Voice 
  4. ^ Shirlee Emmons, Wilbur Watkin Lewis, Researching the song 
  5. ^ Turner, Chris (2004). Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation. Foreword by Douglas Coupland. (1st ed.). Cambridge: Da Capo Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-306-81341-2. OCLC 670978714.