Inside: A collection of Spanish slang phrases from different countries in the Spanish-speaking world.
¿Así es, di?
I remember the thrill of dropping slang into my sentences, as a baby Spanish learner. Di is special to the Pervuian jungle, so it got fun reactions when I learned to use it properly, as an obvious extranjera living there.
Heck, twelve years later it’s still infinitely satisfying to include that perfect piece of Spanish slang, at just the right time.
Perhaps it’s that sense of, “This isn’t my native culture, but I belong. I have roots here too.”
Slang can make you sound like a native you aren’t (as long as you know how and when to use it!) and some phrases express things your native language can’t.
Spanish is fascinating, because it varies so widely across the world in both vocabulary and pronunciation. Some phrases won’t make sense to a native speaker from another country, or might be considered vulgar somewhere else, so you have to be careful. It’s important to pay attention to what works for each country.
This post is the result of crowdsourcing! My readers from all over sent in slang from their respective regions. If you find a mistake or disagree, please let me know in the comments. I imagine this post will be organic for a while, as we correct and collect more. Please send me your favorite Spanish slang phrases and I’ll keep adding to the list.
SPANISH SLANG PHRASES BY COUNTRY
MEXICAN SLANG PHRASES
¡Qué padre! – How cool!/ awesome
¡Qué chido! – very cool
chafa – cheap, lame poorly made
órale – to express surprise/ Really?
Híjole – Oh my goodness!
¿Qué onda? – What’s up?
¿Mande? – What?
cuate – guy
guey – man
compa – friend
suave – groovy (older form of cool)
Qué mala/buena onda – What bad/good luck
pasta – money
es la leche – cool
chavo – young man
Neta? – Really?
¡No manches! – No kidding!/ For real?
¡A la goma! – to express surprise/ Wow!
¡Qué fregón! – How cool!
chilango – person from Mexico City
foráneo – person from out of town
provinciano – person from elsewhere than Mexico City
lana – money
chanclas – sandals
coche – car
sujetavelas – third wheel (candle-holder)
sinpa – dash and dine
pelota – teacher’s pet
enchufado – well-connected, the favorite
Qué mal rollo – that sucks
¡Qué guay! – How cool!
tío – guy/dude
majo/a – very nice
a flor de piel – wear your heart on your sleeve (meaning varies)
pasta – money
¡Cómo mola! – How cool!
es la leche – cool
chaval/a – teenager
Qué chulo – How cool
flipar– to be shocked
picar– to bother someone
pana – friend
bielas – beer
mijin – friend (amigo inseparable)
guambra – guy/girl (chico/chica)
achachay – it’s so cold (qué frío)
ayayay – that hurts (qué dolor)
acolitar– help (ayudar/acompañar)
ñaño/a – brother/sister
COSTA RICAN SLANG
chunche – thing
chiva – cool
¡Qué cachete! – How cool!
mop – close friend (primo, changed to mopri, shortened)
vara – thing
voy jalando – to leave a place with a bad attitude/feeling
mae – dude
manillo – dude
chiguines – kids
tico/a– a Costa Rican
tuanis – cool
pura vida– hello/ goodbye/ cheers/everything is good or cool
estar chineado/a– when you want to be cuddle/ loved/ taken care of
vaina – thing (as in, when you don’t remember what it is)
¿Qué sopa? – What happened? (¿Qué sopa?, after pig latin… ¿Qué sopa mopri?)
COLOMBIAN SLANG PHRASES
nombe – abbreviation of hombre (used as in “nuh uh no way”)
¿Qué hubo? – What’s up?/ How’s it going?/ to shoo away dogs or reprimand kids
ira – now
güiros – niños
pisto – dinero
patojos – teenagers
PUERTO RICAN SLANG
charro/charrería – something/someone is lame
vacilón – a great party, having lots of fun
mano – dude
algarete – something crazy
bochinche – gossip
bregar – to work something out
cafre – someone with little education and attitude
chabón – someone that bothers you
changa – a person that whines and complains a lot
lambón – someone who is always pleasing others
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