Spanish Slang Phrases from the Around the World
Spanish slang

Publication: Aug 15, 2018

Inside: A collection of Spanish slang phrases from different countries in the Spanish-speaking world. 
¿Así es, di?
¡Hola, huambrilla!

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

Spanish slang from Mexico

SPANISH SLANG

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!

vale– okay

es la leche – cool

chaval/a – teenager

Qué chulo – How cool

flipar– to be shocked

picar– to bother someone

ECUADORIAN SLANG

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

PANAMANIAN SLANG

vaina – thing (as in, when you don’t remember what it is)

¿Qué sopa? – What happened? (¿Qué sopa?, after pig latin… ¿Qué sopa mopri?)

panama

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

Spanish slang from Colombia

GUATEMALAN SLANG

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

slang in Spanish from Puerto Rico

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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7 Comments

  1. For the Paraguay section:
    kaigue: lazy (guarani origins)
    gua’u: Fake or false (guarani origins)
    *colectivO: bus
    hule: plastic bag
    lorito hoga: homebody
    permiso’i: a person who is on a short leash from their partner
    *purete: cool
    a la gran siete: cool
    macanada: estupideces
    quilombo: a mess
    kachei: funny (guarani)
    motoquero: person who rides a motorcycle
    que valle: how tacky
    japu: liar (guarani)
    cheto: hipster
    chuchi: fancy
    kape: amigo (men)
    ama: amiga (women)
    cumplehape: birthday party
    asadohape: BBQ
    kunahape: going out looking for girls
    que tembo: how shitty/what an asshole/how messed up

    I will think of more later and add them. Thanks for this! So great!

    Reply
    • Ooh will work on adding these!! Gracias!

      Reply
  2. Paraguay section:

    tavy: crazy

    Reply
  3. Uruguay

    chiquilín/chiquilína — boy/girl
    guri — boy, used in just some parts of the country
    plata — money

    Reply
  4. My exchange student from Spain uses pavo/pava for guy/girl like EVERY DAY

    Reply
  5. Cuba: acere (friend), que bola? (What’s up); Embullar (to get excited); Meter muela (to flirt); guagua and chevere are also used as bus and cool

    Reply

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