Arts & Culture How do you say "drinking straw" in Spanish? The number of Spanish slang words may surprise you!

Published on March 8th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut

How do you say "drinking straw" in Spanish? The number of Spanish slang words may surprise you!

How to Say “Drinking Straw” in Spanish (at least 12 ways to do it!)

How many words can you think of for “drinking straw”? In Spanish there are lots!


It’s such a simple little device; just a piece of plastic that allows you to suck a tasty bit of fruit juice or soda pop from the glass to your mouth. In English — as far as I know — there’s just one term for it that’s universally understood: Drinking straw, or perhaps just “straw.” Ask for a straw at any English-speaking McDonald’s, and they’ll know what you’re taking about.

Such is not the case in the Spanish-speaking world. I collect regionalisms like other people collect postcards, and I have yet to find an everyday item that has many different translations in Spanish (other than, perhaps, a few bedroom-oriented terms which aren’t appropriate for this blog).

“This is one of my running jokes, because I used to wait tables at a Dominican restaurant and we would get a lot of different nationalities,” says Sonia Virginia, who is now a senior account executive at Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications in Miami. “I would sometimes have to run through all eight before they knew what I was talking about.”

So prepare yourself before you walk into that Kentucky Fried Chicken in Mexico or that Burger King in Puerto Rico, and you’ll be sipping pretty before you know it (click on the name of each country for additional travel tips and reviews):

Argentina: pajita (watch how you use this word in other countries!)

Chile: bombilla

Colombia: pitillo

Dominican Republic: calimete

Ecuador: sorbete

Mexico: popote

Nicaragua: pajilla

Panama: carrizo

Peru: cañita (you wouldn’t ordinarily use a cañita to sip a pisco sour cocktail, but just in case, here’s an insider’s view of pisco, Peru’s favorite spirit)

Puerto Rico: sorbeto (and if you’re looking for something to drink with that sorbeto, check out this recipe for a Puerto Rican piña colada, and also this list of 5 Tasty Drinks in Puerto Rico)

Spain: caña, pajita

Venezuela: pitillo

Please let me know any terms that I’ve left out!

For additional country-specific Spanish-language terms, check out my posts, Cool Ways to Say “Cool” in Spanish and Texting and Instant Messaging in Spanish.


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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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