!Ay, caramba!

¡Ay, caramba!
CharacterBart Simpson
ActorNancy Cartwright
First used in"The Art Museum" (The Tracey Ullman Show)
"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (The Simpsons)

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

In popular culture[]

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.[2][3]

The knife-throwing villain in Tintin's adventure The Broken Ear (1935) exclaims "Caramba! Missed again!" so often it became a catchphrase in French ("Caramba, encore raté!")[citation needed]

The fictional character Bart Simpson (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) popularized the phrase "¡Ay, caramba!" in the animated sitcom The Simpsons. He said it first in the 1988 short The Art Museum, one of several one-minute Simpsons cartoons that ran as interstitials on The Tracey Ullman Show from April 14, 1987 to May 14, 1989 on Fox.[citation needed] 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!".[4][failed verification] "¡Ay, caramba!" were also Bart's first words when he saw his parents having sex.[5]

See also[]


  1. ^ Spanish-English/English-Spanish Dictionary. New York: Random House. 1999. pp. 66. ISBN 0-345-40547-1.
  2. ^ Carol Mikkelsen, Spanish Theater Songs -- Baroque and Classical Eras: Medium High Voice, ISBN 9781457412721
  3. ^ Shirlee Emmons, Wilbur Watkin Lewis (22 December 2005), Researching the song, ISBN 9780198034698
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ S4, E10, "Lisa's First Word"