Common names in their native range are bacaba in Brazil, and palma milpesos (or just milpesos) in Spanish-speaking countries. These terms may also refer to the most well-known member of this genus, O. bacaba, but more precise common names exist for that species.
The fruit of Oenocarpus palms are food for various animals, such as the Green Aracari (Pteroglossus viridis) for which O. bacaba fruit are a mainstay food. They are also locally eaten by humans, and these palms are also used in folk medicine. Their wood is useful for handicraft and the fruits can also be used to produce oil, which is of excellent quality and was used as a substitute for olive oil during WW2.