Top Ten Mexican Slang
The order of this list has no meaning other than the words and phrases I think are the most interesting, amusing, common, or unique. Please disagree with me, correct my spelling, or remind me of what I’ve left out.
WARNING: if you’re a FRESA (stuck-up person) you might be offended by some vulgar language, but if you’re a NACO (low-class, person with bad taste), you’ll overuse most of the words on this list.
10. You may have noticed that NO HAY BRONCA is the name of my blog. It means “no problem.”
9. ¡A HUEVO! (vulgar) – Do you know what huevo means? It means egg, but HUEVOS are balls.
There are many ways to use the word. When my Spanish was still at a pretty basic level I had a student who said HUEVOS DIAS to me – not a very nice thing to say.
¡A HUEVO! means “of course!” – a very useful expression. Another variation is TENGO HUEVA, which means you are feeling lazy.
8. CHELA / CAGUAMA – CHELA means beer, and CAGUAMAS are the big returnable 40 ounce bottles, undoubtedly your best value on the street.
7. ¡ORALE! – It can be used for encouragement, like “go for it!” or “right on!” Or it can be used like “let’s do it!” or “let’s go!” Look out for its second cousin HIJOLE, which is like “wow” or “my goodness!”
6. ¿QUE ONDA? – Along with ¿QUE PASO?, ¿QUE TAL?, and the vulgar ¿QUE PEDO?, this is yet another way to say “what’s up?” ONDA literally means waves or, in this case, vibes.
5. PEDO (vulgar) – This word is as versatile as the tortilla, but, unlike the tortilla, rarely appropriate. As a noun it usually means problem, or more literally, fart.
NO HAY PEDO is a substitute for NO HAY BRONCA, no problem. CUAL ES TU PINCHE PEDO means “what’s your fucking problem?”
As an adjective it means drunk. ESTOY BIEN PEDO, WEY. “I’m fucking drunk.” A drunken party or a binge is UNA PEDA.
You can make great phrases with it too, such as the aforementioned ¿QUE PEDO?
4. CHIDO means cool. If you don’t hear this word 100 times a day, you aren’t off the tourist track yet. On a similar note, PADRE (father) means good or cool while MADRE (mother) usually means bad. No, it doesn’t make sense.
3. ¡NO MANCHES! – The literal meaning is ridiculous, but this is used like “no way!” or “come on!” Look out for ¡NO MAMES!, the vulgar equivalent.
2. CHINGAR (vulgar) – Much like English’s beloved f-word, CHINGAR has a wide range of uses – from describing something positively – CHINGON – to negatively – DE LA CHINGADA.
Or, if there is a lot of something, traffic for example, you can say HAY UN CHINGO DE TRAFICO. In general, you can use it to express the foulest, rudest, and most aggressive sentiments.
This is a truly Mexican word, and to learn the origins and deep thoughts behind it read The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz. (Click the books for info.) For everyday uses, check out the Chinganario.
This post contains affiliate links.
1. WEY / GUEY – I’m not sure how to spell it. WEY isn’t as famous as ORALE or versatile as CHINGAR, and may not be as common as CHIDO. You might spend a month here without hearing it. But, once in the proper circles, you’ll hear WEY between every other word, like how teenage American girls use ”like.”
“¡Simon wey, mira wey, chupamos veinte caguamas wey, no mames wey, estabamos bien pedos wey!”
WEY means “dude,” and if you haven’t heard something like the above already, I truly hope that when you do you will recall this example and laugh.
SIMON in this case is a slang substitute for “sí,” yes.
HONORABLE MENTION(S): You can add “-ón” or “-ona” to any body part to describe someone who has a prominent one. For example:
NARIZ: nose — NARIZÓN – guy with a big nose
CEJAS: eybrows — CEJÓN – guy with bushy eyebrows
FRENTE: foreheard – FRENTONA – girl with a big forehead
CULO: ass — CULONA – girl with a big ass, often complimentary (vulgar)
You also can do this with jobs. “-ero” or “-era” makes a job title.
OBRA: work project — OBRERO – worker
PALOMITA: popcorn — PALOMERO – popcorn seller
CULO: ass — CULERO – literally “ass seller,” but actually more like “asshole.”
For more slang check out Part 2 here.
And don’t miss my newly-published Mexican Slang Master List, with more than 100 words and phrases of Mexican Spanish.
Also A Spanish Cheat Sheet for Travelers in Mexico.
Click the link for Frijolero, a song that has all this slang
If you’re studying Spanish, there’s no better book than Madrigal’s Magic Key (click the book for info):
Please click here for more books I recommend for studying Spanish.
Practice your Spanish while traveling in Chiapas or the Mayan Riviera, two top destinations in Mexico. You will save the low price of my Cancun and Mayan Riviera 5-Day Itinerary or Your Chiapas Adventure: San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenquethe first time you follow my advice on a bus, restaurant, hotel or cenote.
About Ted CampbellU.S.-Canadian writer, translator and university teacher in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: nohaybronca.wordpress.com Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at) gmail.com
View all posts by Ted Campbell »
The word cabrón refers to a cuckold, a man whose wife or girlfriend has been unfaithful without his knowing about it. Although the word also means ‘male goat’ and is inoffensive in that context, when used in slang, it can be extremely insulting or offensive. The word also has several other meaning in current slang.
Although the idea of being cheated on by a woman is uncomfortable for men around the world, it is particularly unpleasant in Latin culture, so the word cabrón should be used with caution, and only when you are very comfortable and confident with it. The Real Academia Española gives the following definitions for this word.
1. adj. coloq. Dicho de una persona, de un animal o de una cosa: Que hace malas pasadas o resulta molesto.
2. adj. vulg. Se dice del hombre al que su mujer es infiel, y en especial si lo consiente.
3. adj. coloq. Cuba. Disgustado, de mal humor.
4. adj. coloq. Cuba Dicho de un hombre: Experimentado y astuto.
5. adj. Méx. Dicho de una persona: De mal carácter.
6. m. Macho de la cabra.
7. m. Hombre que aguanta cobardemente los agravios o impertinencias de que es objeto.
8. m. Am. Mer. Rufián que trafica con prostitutas.
In other words, cabrón can refer to something that is annoying, a man whose wife or partner has been unfaithful, a way of describing someone who is experienced, or someone with a bad personality, a man who is a coward and tolerates all manner of annoyances, or a pimp.
As an interjection, ‘carbón’ means something like bastard or asshole.
• ¡Cabrón! (You bastard! You asshole! You stupid ass!)
Calling someone a ‘cabrón’ is to say that the person is a bastard, asshole, or jerk. This can be used directly or indirectly in speech.
• Eres un cabrón. (You are a bastard/ass/asshole.)
• El muy cabrón me robó el carro. (The bastard stole my car.)
The word ‘cabrón’ is used widely in the Spanish-speaking world, though its exact connotation and degree of offensive varies not only with the region but also with the people using it. Teenagers in particular tend to use slang openly and without reservation. Non-native speakers are best off not emulating them.
As with all curses, be very careful when using any form of cabrón. Even native speakers can cause offense, so non-natives are usually better off just avoiding them. But ‘cabrón’ and its accompanying idioms are so common that you have to know them.
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