¡Ay, caramba!

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"Caramba" redirects here. For other uses, see Caramba (disambiguation).

¡Ay, caramba! (pronounced: [ˈai kaˈɾamba]), from the Spanish interjections ay (denoting surprise or pain) and caramba (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 became associated with the Madrid flamenco dancer and singer La Caramba in the 1780s. Her headdress of brightly-colored ribbons became known as a caramba.[3][4]

In popular culture[edit]

The 1944 Disney movie The Three Caballeros has Panchito Pistoles singing the titular song, which includes a line stating "We shout: ¡Ay caramba!" When asked by Donald Duck what it means, Panchito admits that he does not know.[5]

Ricky Ricardo, played by Desi Arnaz, would exclaim ¡Ay caramba, Lucy! at the antics of Lucille Ball in the 1950s television sitcom I Love Lucy.

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!"[6]

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

In The High Chaparral Don Sebastian Montoya (Frank Silvera) and Manolito Montoya (Henry Darrow) used the phrase "¡Ay, caramba!" frequently throughout the show's four-year run, especially Manolito. He also said "ay ay ay ay ay" meaning pretty much the same as "¡Ay, 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. ^ "The Three Caballeros (song)". The Disney Wiki. 
  6. ^ 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.