Spray and Pray!

A Troche y Moche

A lot of us, at one point or another have driven a car a troche y moche (especially guys… sorry guys, it’s just more of a guy thing…). Have you ridden your bike a troche y moche? It seems to me that any bike-owner on campus does. Maybe the deadline for your paper is the next day, it’s already 4a.m., and you just want to go to bed. Or maybe your math homework is due at 11:59 and it’s 11:57 and you still have four more problems left. You’ll probably finish them a troche y moche.

Can you figure out what I’m talking about? Recklessly, with abandon, in chaotic and disorderly haste, haphazardly.

We do things “a troche y moche” when we’re in a rush, and we do it kinda recklessly, aren’t careful, don’t double check, etc.

“A troche y moche” developed with logging industries a long time ago. When logging, loggers would quickly and chaotically chop off all of the extra limbs on the trees, as well as spray the trees down with water to keep them from drying out on the trip to the mill. They did it quickly and not very carefully, as there were a lot of trees to get through in a short amount of time. English loggers coined the phrase “spray and pray” for this same idea. They did it in a rush and haphazardly and hoped it turned out okay.

What’s interesting about this idiom is that it doesn’t actually have a direct translation. If you look up “troche” in a Spanish to English dictionary, it doesn’t actually exist. Moche, on the other hand, means chop.  A troche y moche is just kind of a made-up term, probably used because it rhymes.

WE have a similar term in our language, meaning recklessly, haphazhardly, and with chaotic and disorderly haste, that also rhymes. Can you think of it?


If someone who spoke another language tried to look up the word “helter” or “skelter” it probably wouldn’t get them anywhere. In fact, I tried both on wordreference.com from English to Spanish, and absolutely nothing came up. Helter-Skelter is a phrase that we can use, but when the words are apart, they have no meaning whatsoever.

What I think is cool is how both languages use rhyming phrases. Even when the terms are used in the sense of logging, both rhyme. I guess maybe we as humans just enjoy rhymes? Do you guys have any thoughts?

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  8. Phoebe Canagarajah says:

    Haha I read this and immediately after thought “If I shouted ‘spray and pray’ while I ran through my homework at night, what would me roommate say?” But a troche y moche is catchy and I think I may use it, if only just in my mind. But I think humans do like rhymes. Rhymes are fun to say and they round out a phrase. They make things easy to remember too. I wonder who created the first rhyme though.

  9. Kristen Laubscher says:

    This is so cool! I love reading your blog every week and learning new Spanish phrases. You make such a good point that both languages make up words and phrases that make sense to native speakers but would be hard to look up for others. Thanks for your post!

  10. Brigh Desjardins says:

    It has a nice ring to it! Might start using this one.

  11. Kate Kielceski says:

    Your posts never cease to amaze me! I never really thought about other languages having idoms like we do in English. But if asked to think about it, I probably would have agreed that they do. However, I NEVER would have guessed that there were as many parallels as there are! Helter-skelter is such an obscure phrase, I never would have imagined there was a similar idiom in Spanish. Also, the fact that it rhymes too just kills me!

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