Cuban Saying of the Day: The origin of ‘Fulano y Mengano’

We all grew up hearing our Cuban parents and grandparents using “Fulano y Mengano” as a term to specify a person or persons whenever a name was unavailable. It was the unofficial Cuban term for unspecified people or those whose name was unknown. It is roughly the equivalent of “Tom, Dick, or Harry” in English.

I always found Fulano and Mengano to be humorous. When I was a kid, I had an uncle who would address my neighborhood friends playing at my house as “Fulanito.” He didn’t know their actual names and didn’t care to learn them, so Fulanito was the easiest alternative.

While I have heard and used the term for decades, I never knew its origin. But thanks to our good friend Diana Arteaga, now we know who Fulano and Mengano really is:

I recall a post about how Cubans use “Fulano” and “Mengano” when we don’t know a person’s name. I am clearing out books today and by accident stumbled across a page from a book “The History of Spanish Language.” Apparently Fulano and Mengano is an Arabism that came to Cuba via Moorish influence in Spain. It means “what’s his name.” I thought that was a pretty cool “Fun Fact” to share.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.