Is is common knowledge that papaya in Cuba is vulgar slang for vagina and for that reason this delicious fruit was renamed fruta bomba. Having that in mind, one of our readers, translator Jeff Whittaker, shared the photo bellow with us with the following message:
“I snapped this picture at our local grocery store. I thought it was amusing because the label uses the Cuban “fruta de bomba” (to avoid the word “papaya”), but then there is the English translation that says papaya anyway.”
In the past I wrote about fruta bomba and other Spanish slang words for vagina when presidential candidate Mitt Romney innocently used the word papaya in an interview for a Cuban radio station in Miami. But apart from this embarrassing mistake with Spanish, my question is: How fruta bomba came to be use as a term for papaya by Cubans? Here is what I found:
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Cuban Spanish Word FRUTA BOMBA
1. Papaya is a “bad word” in the west part of Cuba and consequently fruta bomba is used. In the East part of Cuba it is safe to use the word papaya.
2. The papaya got this double meaning in Cuba because it resembles a women’s vulva when the papaya’s cut open.
3. According to the book Nuevo Catauro de Cubanismos by Fernando Ortiz, Spanish conquistadores use the word papo as an euphemism for the women’s genitals, later a “phonetic derivation” in Cuba gave the word papaya the same meaning.
4. In search for a possible explanation on why fruta bomba end up being used as a term for papaya, Fernando Ortiz in his Glosario de afronegrismos from 1924 indicates that the word bombo was used by African slaves to refer to the “female sexual organ.”
5. Fruta boba was the word that preceded today’s fruta bomba. In 1876 Miguel Rodríguez-Ferrer registered this name in his book Naturaleza y civilización de la grandiosa Isla de Cuba.
The papaya or fruta bomba is a native tropical fruit from the Americas and there are other Spanish words to identify it: papayon, mamón, melón papaya, lechosa and melón de árbol.
Have you run across any photos that caused you similar confusion?
Check out these other Cuba Spanish Slang Word articles.