Spanish Slang Phrases from the Around the World

by | Aug 15, 2018

Inside: A collection 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. 

Street Spanish is interesting, because it varies so widely across the world. 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

 

Mexico

 

¡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

 

Spain

 

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

 

Ecuador

 

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 Rica

 

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

 

Panama

 

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

 

Colombia

 

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

 

 

Guatemala

 

güiros – niños

pisto – dinero

patojos – teenagers

 

 

Puerto Rico

 

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

 

 

Perú

 

causa – friend

pata
– friend

chévere
– cool

flaca
– girlfriend

humabrillo/a
– guy/girl

ñaño/a
– brother/sister

chelas
– beers

chamba – work

bacán – wonderful

calato– naked

cana – jail

chape – kiss

mosca – alert

pituco – wealthy

yunta – best friend

chibolo – niño

peru

 

Chile

 

bakán – cool

filo – over it (no importa)

pololo/a – boy/girlfriend

al tiro – right now

carrete – party (carretear – to party)

poh – filler words used for emphasis

Cachai? – You get it?

fome – boring

seco/a – awesome, a person who is good at doing something

guagua – baby

bebida – soda

chile

 

Dominican Republic

 

un chin – a little bit

vaina – stuff

guagua – bus

jevi – cool

Qué lo qué – What’s up

colmado – convenience store

bacano – cool/ someone good at something difficult

pana – buddy

jeepeta – SUV

chévere – cool

tato – everything is good/alright

ñapa – bonus/ when you buy something and they give you extra

esquimalito – popsicle

jevo/a – boy/girlfriend or girl/boy

concho – non-reulgated public transportation/ to express discomfort

tripear– to joke around/ to be pleasing (as in, “te tripea”)

quillao/quillá– being very mad

guapo/a– to be angry

 

 

Nicaragua

 

tuani – cool/awesome

chigüin/a: boy/girl

dale pues – do it then, go ahead

chaval/a – boy/girl

chele/chela -light-skinned person

chunche – thingamajig

Qué encave – How messed up

están jalando – they are dating

ni chicha ni limonada – to express confution

nicaragua

 

El Salvador

 

chivo/a – cool

va – ok/uh huh/got it/ah

cara de chumbe – turkey face

bicho, cipote(a) – child

chucho – dog

pisto – money

nicaragua

 

Venezuela

 

dale pues – go ahead and do it, let’s go, to express agreement

chévere – cool

chamo/a – boy/girl

chimbo – not good/bummer

coroto – thing (when you’re unsure of the name)

guácala – yucky, gross

bululú – a crowd

na’guará – to express admiration of something incredible or true

venezuela

 

Paraguay

 

colectiva – bus

dispensa – corner store

puerete – cool (Guarani origins)

chulina – cute (Guarani origins)

chamigo/a – close friend (mix of che and friend)

paraguay

 

Uruguay

 

ta – okay

chiquilín/a – boy or girl

guri – boy

plata – money

 

Argentina

 

che – meaning varies (hey, cool, guy)

pibe/piba – boy/girl

mina – girl

re – prefix that means “very”

tener fiaca – lazy

morfar – to eat

bondi – bus

¿Me estás cargando? – What the heck?

baja un cambio – call/ slow down

dale – ok/ hurry up

plata/mango/guita – money

 

 

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a non-native Spanish speaker and teacher, raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our family’s story here.

I write about teaching language and Spanglish living, and spend my days digging up the best resources so you don’t have to. ¡Bienvenidos!

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