!Ay, caramba!

¡Ay, caramba! (pronounced [ˈaj kaˈɾamba]), from the Spanish interjections ay (denoting surprise or pain) and caramba (a minced oath for carajo), is an exclamation used in Spanish to denote surprise (usually positive).[1] The term caramba is also used in Portuguese.[2] "¡Ay, caramba!" is used as a catchphrase of Bart Simpson from the animated sitcom The Simpsons.

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.[3][4]

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

The fictional character Bart Simpson (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) popularized the phase "¡Ay, caramba!" in the animated sitcom The Simpsons. He said it first in the 1988 short The Art Museum, one of the one-minute Simpsons cartoons, that ran as interstitials on The Tracey Ullman Show from April 14, 1987 to May 14, 1989 on Fox. 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] "¡Ay, caramba!" were Bart's first words.[6]

See also[]


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