Panamanian sayings: What does "Nos salió la bruja" mean?

Which witch is which? The Panamanian word “bruja” is used with varied meanings according to context.

Nos salió la bruja means it didn't turn out well in Panamanian Spanish
YOU MAY feel perplexed when you first hear Panamanian sayings. For example, someone might say, Nos salió la bruja, which literally means: “The witch appeared to me.” But relax! It doesn’t mean what you might think. Of course, witches never bear good news. So this idiomatic expression means that something went south, or went wrong. One headline reported:

Les salió la bruja a ladrones de gasolinera.
🏈 Everything went wrong for gasoline station robbers.

Consider the following tweet:

Le salió la bruja a ladrón en mercado público de Penonomé.

🏈 Things went south for a thief in Penonomé.

Here’s another example from the Panamanian daily La Estrella de Panamá:

⚽ Al que le salió la bruja es al diputado Mario Lázarus, quien atropelló a una menor que murió y él, siendo médico, se dio a la fuga.
🏈 The one who had a really bad day was congressman Mario Lázarus, who ran over a minor who died, and despite being a doctor, he fled the scene.

Which witch is which in Panamanian sayings?

As the above example illustrates, bruja takes on different meanings in Panamanian Spanish depending on the context. If someone lives in a barriada bruja, he is in a slum. If he’s in a casa bruja, it is a shack. A company producing artesanal beer has sprung up in Panama City with the picturesque name Casa Bruja Brewery. In such circumstances, it is possible that the occupants are using luz bruja, that is, they are illegally connected to the electrical grid. Want to learn more? Check out the article 20 Ways to Speak Panamanian Spanish.


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