Mexican Slang Master List
100+ words and phrases for speaking and understanding real Mexican Spanish
It’s been more than five years since I published Top Ten Mexican Slang and its sequel Top 20 Mexican Slang. I’d never change the words on those lists, but 10 words, 20 words, heck, 100 words isn’t enough to cover the enormous amount of slang in Mexico.
So here’s my Master List of the most common, useful, and hilarious words and phrases in Mexican Spanish, which goes far beyond the top 10 or 20 (or the other articles online with the same words as my first two lists and obvious rewrites of my descriptions. You know who you are). I sincerely hope that when you hear these badass Spanish words, you’ll remember my examples of Mexican slang and laugh.
Along with ¿Qué pasó? and ¿Qué tal?, this is yet another way to say What’s up? A more informal version is ¿Que tranza?, or the vulgar ¿Que pedo?
Ondas are waves, but not waves in the ocean (which are olas), but sound or light waves. So perhaps a better translation for onda would be vibes.
Someone who is buena onda is cool or nice, while someone mala onda is not. Also, agarrar la onda means you understand, or get it.
Ella es buena onda — She’s cool.
¿Aggaraste la onda? — Do you get my drift?
Literally What a miracle!, this is how Mexicans say Long time no see.
Mande is the Mexican way to ask What? when you don’t understand what someone said. It can also be used like Tell me or Go ahead, to encourage someone to speak, often on the telephone. Another way to say this, which is like Huh? (not exactly a real word), is pronounced ei-oh.
A highly informal Really? or For real?, neta can also mean that something is the best, as in esta fiesta es la neta — this party is the best.
Another common Mexican substitute for Really? (verdad, en serio) is ¿apoco?
Instead of a question like ¿apoco?, another reaction to surprising information is to say ¡No manches! — No way! or Come on! The literal translation, Don’t stain, is ridiculous because it’s simply a euphemism for the vulgar no mames. Head down the list to Bad Words for other vulgar expressions in Mexican slang.
Literally no method, the common expression ni modo means it doesn’t matter, it can’t be helped, or a dismissive whatever.
can be used for encouragement, like Go for it! or Right on! It can be used to agree: Let’s do it! or Let’s go! Or it can express excitement, like Wow! or My goodness!, similar to its second cousin híjole.
Ahora means now. The -ita or -ito (for feminine or masculine nouns) stem is a diminutive, used to show that something is small or cute. So literally ahorita means little now.
Mexicans might tell you that ahorita means right now, but really it means soon or eventually. If you ask a Mexican to do something and he or she replies with ahorita, then it could happen in five minutes, five hours, or never.
¿Puedes ayudarme con mi tarea? Ahorita. — Can you help me with my homework? Soon.
¿Ya nos vamos? Ahorita. — Let’s go now? Soon.
While luego means later, luego luego, unlike ahorita, actually does mean right now.
We all know that agua is water. But in Mexican slang, aguas means careful! or look out!
Aguas con los perros. — Careful with those dogs.
I was told that this expression comes from when a cleaning lady pours out a bucket of water onto the sidewalk, she warns passersby by yelling ¡Aguas!
Not quite vulgar, pinche translates to many words in English, damn for example, but only when used to describe something or someone.
¡Pinche coche! – damn car
Pinche Juan – goddamn Juan (Also a song by Café Tacuba, good Mexican band for learning Mexican slang.)
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Chido means cool, usually objects and situations instead of people, for whom it’s more common to say buena onda. Another word for cool is padre (see Family below).
No, not the Nikkon hanging around your neck, although it’s also the word for a camera and the tube inside a tire too. A general translation is chamber. But as an expression, cámara means I agree or it’s a deal. A stronger way to say this is with conste.
No Hay Bronca
This phrase of Mexican Slang has a special place in my heart — I named my blog after it. It means no problem and is an alternative to the vulgar No hay pedo. (Look for pedo under Drinking below.)
Words for People
Wey was #1 on my list of Top Ten Mexican Slang, and I stand by it. The “correct” spelling (of this “incorrect” word) is güey, which is derived from the word buey for an ox.
Ask middle-aged Mexicans, and they’ll tell you that wey didn’t exist when they were kids — at least, not like it does now. Once in the proper circles, you’ll hear wey between every other word, like how teenage American girls use like.
¡Simón wey, mira wey, chupamos veinte caguamas wey, no mames wey, estábamos bien pedos wey!
Wey (or güey) means dude, and if you haven’t already heard something like the example above, I hope that when you do you’ll recall this and laugh. (Simón is a slang substitute for sí, yes.)
When used angrily, however, wey means something like dumbass or idiot. In the north of Mexico, people say vato, which is borderline vulgar. Cabron, clearly on the vulgar side, can also be used in a friendly way with the right people.
In Baja California, people use the non-vulgar paisa, short for paisano, which means countryman. Compa is a common abreviation for compadre, used with close friends or relatives.
Carnal is used for a very close friend, often someone’s brother. And speaking of brothers, cuate (fraternal twin) is also used for a close friend.
In English we say kids, and in Mexico there are many slang words for muchachos. Chavo is perhaps the most common, but others are chamaco and morro. (Remember, end words like this with an -a instead of an -o for females, i.e. chava, chamaca, morra.)
Of course, like chick in English, these can be used for teenagers and up, as always depending on the situation. I have a friend my age who calls his girlfriend his morra.
Peques — short for pequeños — is used for little kids only. An escuincle is a spoiled brat, but it could apply to kids in general.
A ruco is an old person, and the word can be used as a noun or an adjective. A chavoruco, therefore, is an old guy who acts (or tries to act) young.
A related word, rabo verde (literally green tail — green in the sense of not ripe), is an old guy who dates young women, or chases young tail.
Nacos are low-class folks, not necessarily because of their economic situation, but more because of attitude and behavior. The American English equivalent to this Mexican Slang would be redneck (more so than hick), and although nacos and rednecks actually have a lot in common, they would probably hate each other.
Literally strawberry, a fresa is a picky, stuck-up person. For a woman it could translate as high maintenance. This can apply to things other than people as well; for example cheesy, lightweight rock is musica fresona, although the usual word for cheesy is cursi.
Another way to say picky, especially for food, is especial — special.
These are Mexicans living in the United States, or Mexican-Americans. The illegal ones are mojados, which means wet, a reference to the unfortunate expression wetback.
A Mexican who doesn’t want to be Mexican, but loves to talk about his trip to the U.S. or Europe, is a malinchista. This comes from Malinche, Hernan Cortés’s indigenous translator (and lover) during the conquest of Mexico, widely regarded as a traitor. So a malinchista is someone who symbolically betrays Mexico.
These are people from Mexico City, which incidentally is called D.F. (pronounced “deh-EFF-ei” in Spanish). There’s some debate about whether chilangos are people born there or who moved there later, but for our purpose it’s any of the 9 million residents of this massive metropolis.
Cholos are Mexican hip-hop kids — big pants, big chains, and a whole other world of slang. I’m sure Mexican rappers Cartel de Santa would proudly call themselves cholos.
Chairos are the left-leaning, save-the-world types who believe in a socialist utopia. I suppose a loose translation to English could be social justice warrior. Yes, it’s an insult to call someone a chairo.
The corresponding insult for people on the right is derechairo. Dere-, as in derecha, get it? Another word is mocho, especially for the overly religious.
¡Pinche mochos y chairos se odian!
Cafres are terrible drivers, who often drive a carcacha, a beat-up car. Another Mexican slang word is cacharro, but this may apply to anything busted, not only cars.
Ñoños are nerds, and as an adjective it means nerdy. Apparently in Spain ñoño means cheesy, though in Mexico cheesy is cursi.
A busybody — someone who pokes their nose into everyone’s business — is a metiche. If the person is a gossip, then he or she is chismoso, as chisme is gossip (the noun).
This is a guy whose wife or girlfriend is always bossing him around. It’s not vulgar, even if the English equivalent certainly is: pussy-whipped.
Not an exclusively Mexican word, but interesting because there’s no equivalent in English, a tocayo is someone with the same name as you. You can say somos tocayos or just call the person with the same name as you tocayo, like a nickname (apodo).
Words for Describing People
Unlike folks north of the border, Mexicans can be quite direct when describing people, with words and nicknames like gordito (fat), flaco (thin), and moreno (dark skinned). Though to describe a dark-skinned woman, for example, it is nicer to add the diminutive -ita, as in morenita.
If you’re a light-skinned woman with blonde or even light brown hair, you’ll for sure be called a güera in Mexico, which means — surprise — a light-skinned woman with blonde or light hair. For men the word is güero, and in both cases there are two little dots above the u.
A racist, or at least bigoted, term for dark-skinned people.
Codo means elbow, but in Mexican slang it means stingy, as in a cheap or stingy person. People who are codo doesn’t want to flex their elbows by pulling out money and putting it on the table. The non-slang word for this is tacaño.
No seas codo – Don’t be cheap.
More expressions use codo, like hablar por los codos, which means talk too much, or romperse los codos, which means work too hard.
Women with a nice body are buena (hot), bien buena, or the even-more emphatic buenota.
Estas bien buena güera. — You are hot (have a nice body), white lady.
Be careful with these, as obviously they can be taken the wrong way. For example, not many women would enjoy being called a gordibuena — a hot fat chick.
Another way to say a person is hot is chula, which can also mean good in a general sense.
A pig, in the general, metaphorical sense of the word — dirty, disgusting or rude, whatever applies. It can also be used like an adjective: Tu casa está cochina — your house is dirty. To say it in a nicer way, use cochinito.
A common nickname, used as a noun, this refers to a bald guy, especially those who shave their head. Pelo is hair, so pelón means…well there’s some irony at work here.
This brings us to another topic: the -ón and -ona suffixes, which you can add to all kinds of adjectives, such as:
Nalgas: butt — nalgona: girl with a big butt. (And slapping someone on the butt is a nalgada)
So, 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: eyebrows — cejón: guy with bushy eyebrows
Frente: forehead — frentona: girl with a big forehead
Bigote: mustache — bigotona: girl with a mustache
Culo: ass (vulgar) — culona: girl with a big ass, possibly complimentary (but still vulgar)
Cebolla: onion — cebollón: what my wife calls me when I eat too many onions
You also can do this with jobs: -ero or -era makes a job title.
Obra: work project — obrero: worker
Palomita: popcorn — palomero: popcorn seller, who walks the streets with his cart.
Culo: ass — culero: literally ass seller, but actually more like asshole.
A special mention for jeta, which doesn’t have a direct English translation. (These are often the most interesting words in Mexican slang.) A jeta is a dirty look, a sour expression on your face. Maybe you’ve heard this newly-minted English expression: resting bitch-face. That’s a jeta. So a woman with a jeta is a jetona.
Words for Family Members
Your father is your boss: mi jefe, and your mother too: mi jefa.
Your wife or girlfriend is your old lady: mi vieja. Sure, it’s not respectful, but it is common. Old ladies, on the other hand, are usually called viejitas, with the diminutive softening the blow.
Esta vieja — this old lady, could refer to any female, usually with a negative connotation. And viejo, old man, can be used among friends like man (if you get sick of using wey, cabrón or carnal, that is).
Mothers talking about their sons use this combination of the two words mi hijo — my son.
Padre (father) means cool or good, not for people but things or situations. Está padre — it’s cool, great. Está padrísimo — it’s awesome.
In Mexican slang, madre (mother) is much more common than padre, although unlike padre, it’s full-on vulgar. Which brings us to…
Bad language, groserias in Spanish, make up some of the most diverse, prevalent and versatile types of slang in any language. Whole books and websites are devoted to bad words in Spanish — English too. It can make for a lifetime of study, and if you want to get into it, a great website to check out is run by my friend Rodney: “¡Qué boquita!” No seas pelangoche.
In the interest of your Mexican slang education, I’ve included five of the most versatile badass Spanish words, which can be twisted into many meanings. They are, in their basest form: madre, mamar, huevos, cabrón, and chingar — of course with a few bonus ones mixed in.
As I wrote above, in Mexican slang padre isn’t a bad word, but madre certainly is. Why? Well, as an anonymous commenter wrote on my article Top Ten Mexican Slang, mention mom and the fight is on.
Here are some ways to use madre:
Que pedo con esta madre — What the fuck is wrong with this fucking thing — you can use madre to refer to pretty much anything.
Me vale madres — I don’t give a fuck.
Ni madres — No fucking way.
A toda madre: This means awesome, or when about yourself it means you’re feeling great, ready for action, as in Estoy a toda madre.
Que poca madre: Something bad, wrong, not pleasing for sure. ¿Reprobaste tu clase? Que poca madre. — You failed your class? That sucks.
Desmadre: A mess, or a fucked-up situation, is a desmadre.
Partir la madre: This means kick your ass, as in te voy a partir la madre. A simple verb for this is madrear. And once you get your ass kicked, you will be covered with madrazos, or bruises, also known as putazos.
For example: Voy a madrear todos estos pinches blogueros que copian el contenido de mis artículos.
Hasta la madre: To be sick of something. Ya yo estoy hasta la madre, de que me pongan sombrero (The first line from “Frijolero” by Molotov, a great song full of Mexican slang).
Etymologically speaking, mamar is related to mamá (mom). But there’s no good translation for mamar to English, except possibly suckle or breastfeed.
As you can imagine, this is fertile ground for slang. Mamar the verb, therefore, means give a blowjob, and the noun blowjob is a mamada. But mamadas can also mean bullshit, AKA pendejadas (from pendejo, asshole), chingadazos, and many more, including the dinner-table-acceptable tonterías.
If a guy is mamado (an adjective this time), it means he is muscular — implying he breastfed a lot and got big.
Remember fresa above? Another Mexican slang word for picky, stuck-up people is mamón, or mamona for women.
Finally, as mentioned above, the extremely common no manches (Come on! No way!) is actually a euphemism for no mames, literally don’t suck me off. Remember to conjugate your verbs, even when using Mexican slang — if you’re talking to a group of guys (don’t use it with women), say no mamen.
When I travel in Central America, in places like Guatemala or Honduras, and I tell people that I live in Mexico, they often say ¡Ah, cabrón! That’s how Mexican this word is, that other Latinos think of it right away when they think about Mexicans.
I always assumed it came from cabra, goat, but supposedly it has older origins, beginning with the conquistador and pirate Pedro Hernandez Cabrón, who was so horrible that his name eventually became an insult.
When used as an insult, cabron translates best to bastard, though not in the sense of someone with unmarried parents. But it can also be said to a friend — a male friend, of course. Like bastard, cabrón isn’t the right thing to say to your boss or girlfriend’s father.
Cabrón can be used in other ways, especially for something difficult — Está carbon. If you say that about a person, it means he’s tough.
If you’re angry, you’re encabronado/a. It can be used like a verb: Me encabrona (or me encabrita) este wey — this guy pisses me off.
Está cabrón has a substitute for use in mixed company: está cañon.
Much like English’s beloved f-word, chingar has a wide range of uses, from describing something positively: está chingón (it’s fucking awesome), to negatively: está de la chingada (it’s fucked up). The euphemism for this is de la fregada.
If there’s a lot of something, traffic for example, you can say hay un chingo de…, for example hay un chingo de tráfico. The non-vulgar way to say this is un montón de… or un buen de…
In general, you can utilize chingar to express the foulest, rudest, and most aggressive sentiments, such as chinga tu madre (fuck your mother, or simply fuck you) or vete a la chingada (go fuck yourself).
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 Chingonario:
Chingar as a verb typically means fuck up rather than have sex. Another good one for fuck up is joder. Estoy jodido — I’m fucked.
For actual sex, expressed vulgarly, use coger, which in other Spanish-speaking countries means grab or hold. Use it like that in Mexico and people will laugh like crazy.
Here’s a bonus word, similar to chingar: ¡chale! is like shit! or fuck! when something bad happens.
We know that huevos are eggs, but all over the Spanish-speaking world, huevos are also balls (testicles).
In Mexican slang, huevos can be used much more widely. When my Spanish was still at a pretty basic level I had a student who said huevos días to me — not a very nice thing to say.
One of my favorites, ¡A huevo! means of course! or hell yeah! — very useful. Another variation is tengo hueva, which means you are feeling lazy, and a lazy person is a huevón. If you say me da hueva, it means something bores you. Que hueva — how boring.
Yes, bad language and drinking go together like lime and salt, and likewise words for alcohol and drinking are a source of so much great slang. Think about English: booze, a brew, getting wasted, pissed, hammered, fucked up…
Chelas are beers, also known as cheves. The word may come from micheladas, a big cup of beer mixed with tomato juice, lime, hot sauce — there’s even a place in Mexico City that puts shrimp and slices of mango in their micheladas. Perhaps an acquired taste.
The best deal for beer drinkers in Mexico are caguamas, big returnable 40-ounce-ish bottles. As a commenter pointed out to me, technically the biggest one is a caguamón, although this is a marketing term I’ve never heard spoken. A caguama is a type of sea turtle, by the way.
Another useful container for beer is a latón (big can), a tall boy in English.
A pomo is a bottle of liquor. I’ve even heard the big one — what we call a half gallon in the U.S. — called an elephant foot: pata de elefante. I like that.
This is the vulgar way to say booze, and the verb pistear is the vulgar way to say drink (the verb). You can also say chupar, suck, as in vamos a chupar — let’s drink/get drunk.
In Mexican slang, a mala copa is a bad drunk, you know — one who loses control, fights and cries. No seas una mala copa.
Literally raw, crudo means hungover, as in estoy crudo or tengo cruda (I have a hangover).
A cantina is a bar and an antro is a nightclub. A rodeo is a kind of nightclub that specializes in banda music — the cowboy hat-wearing groups with loud drums and big horn sections.
I could have put pedo under Bad Words, as it’s versatile, common and oh-so vulgar. Literally a pedo is a fart, but most often it means drunk.
Estoy pedo — I’m drunk.
Therefore un pedote is a boozer, a big drinker, although it could also mean a big fart.
The noun peda is a drinking party or binge, also known as a borrachera or a chupe. The party itself, fiesta, could be called a pachanga or parranda.
Pedo also means problem, as in ni pedo or no hay pedo, the vulgar substitute for no hay bronca, no problem. ¿Cual es tu pinche pedo? — What’s your fucking problem? A pedero is a person who causes problems.
Finally, you can use ¿Que pedo? instead of ¿Que onda? to say What the fuck is up? (in a friendly way), or with an angry tone of voice, What the fuck? The euphemism for these is pex, as in ¿Que pex? or ni pex.
Miscellaneous Useful Mexican Slang
This Mexican Slang Master List is getting a to be a little long, so long that I think I might have to write a sequel with words for crime and punishment, sports, drugs, food, and especially sex. But for now, I’ll leave you with a few good ones, necessary ones, which for sure belong on a comprehensive list of the most important slang from Mexico.
Songs are rolas, an alternative to the regular Spanish word, canción.
La banda might be the band, but it could also be a group of friends.
A job, often a difficult or shitty job. You can say Tengo que regresar a mi chamba or ask ¿Que chamba tienes? The verb, chambear, means work, and without pride or enthusiasm.
Tengo que chambear mañana.
It means a small business, a little store or small restaurant. So, does changarro have anything do with chango, the Mexican word for monkey?
Chafa describes something cheap or low quality. Este coche es chafa.
Varos (sometimes spelled and always pronounced baros — remember there’s no v sound in Spanish) means money, but not in the general sense like lana (wool, money) or plata (silver, money), but in the numerical sense (pesos), like bucks.
Esta vale cien varos — It’s worth one hundred pesos.
A refresco is a soda, like a Coke. But if a policeman asks you for a refresco, he’s asking for a bribe.
A favor is a paro, as in Hazme un paro — Do me a favor.
A chiste is a joke (una broma) and something funny is chistoso. Chiste can also mean the trick, or the way to do something, as in el chiste es hacerlo así — the trick is to do it like this.
An albur is a vulgar pun. This fascinating aspect of Mexican culture deserves a whole other article. It can also be used as a verb, alburear.
This is substitute for feo, ugly, though both words are used in a much wider sense than for physical ugliness. For example: Hueles feo — you smell bad (not ugly).
I originally spelled this incorrectly as gaucho (thanks for the correction), which is an Argentinian cowboy and an excellent Steely Dan album.
Jalada means overdone, or ridiculous, as in action movies in which the hero is shot at by 100 foes but not one bullet hits him.
Literally spill, it means diarrhea, as in tengo chorro. It can also be used to express that you have a lot of something — not necessarily diarrhea.
A ratero, or simply rata (rat) is a thief, a criminal — worse than a rat, if you ask me.
Remember the cafres driving their carcahas? Well, the carcacha might be a vocho (pronounced and sometimes spelled bocho), the nickname for Volkswagen Beetles, which are everywhere in Mexico.
In Mexico, don’t call your jacket a chaqueta, because that’s the Mexican slang word for jerking off. Use chamarra instead.
These are sandals, AKA huaraches, an old indigenous word that is also a kind of food (delicious). If you walk around in public with chanclas, you might be called chancludo.
D.F. and Chilangos
Meaning Federal District, and pronounced “deh-EFF-ei,” this is how most people refer to Mexico City. It may be called simply México, but almost never La Ciudad de México, except on documents or plane tickets, although the government is currently trying to change this. By the way, people from D.F. are chilangos.
An essential word for travel, the zócalo is the main plaza or the central square of a city, otherwise known as the parque central.
This means neighborhood, not the English cognate colony. Residents may be called vecinos (which usually means neighbor) or colonos.
Your depa is your apartment, departamento.
A camión is a bus, whereas in other parts of Latin America it’s a truck. I remember telling people in Guatemala that I arrived by camión, and they looked at me crazy until I figured it out and explained myself. The official word for a bus in Mexico is autobús, not plain bus, unlike Spain and elsewhere.
We’ll end this list with a word that’s not just slang, but a big part of any Mexican experience, especially if you drive. Speedbumps are everywhere, often unmarked and totally hidden in the dark night. Aguas when you drive over them, because hitting them hard makes everyone in the backseat bounce up and slam their heads into the roof of the car, or worse, gives you a flat tire.
Speedbumps are topes, and only in Mexico. In other parts of Latin America and some parts of Mexico they are tumolos, reductores — which other words?
Part 2 is coming soon and will include more Mexican slang and badass Spanish words for food, sports, sex, drugs — all that fun stuff. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments, corrections and complaints.
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Posted on December 6, 2016, in culture, LANGUAGE, Learning Spanish, Mexico and tagged guide to mexican slang, learning mexican spanish, learning spanish, mexican slang, mexican spanish. Bookmark the permalink. 93 Comments.
In Guadalajara, I have heard people say to me “Juanita buen dia.” Is this derogatory? As I’m a man. 😀
Or just referring to a man as “La Juanita”? What’s the meaning? Calling them a woman?
Are you sure that wasn’t “güerito”?
Topes or reductores, in some Latin American countries, are called “policías muertos.”
Dude, great list! But! Where is part 2??? You promised it comes with “all that fun stuff”…which would come in really handy. I guess you filed it under “Ahorita”?
I wouldn’t even no how to spell it, but my father used to always say, “Charle Holmes”.
I been trying to find out but nobody wants to tell me the actual vulgar meaning of chicloso I had someone say it to me and I want to know what they are saying?
Chicloso comes from chicle, chewing gum, so it means gooey or sticky. The vulgar meaning is probably like pegajoso or empalagoso — demanding of attention, clingy, or horny.
Not related to Mexican slang but as in another comment it was mentioned the way to refer to the speedbumps in other spanish speaking countries I think it would be interesting for you that in Cuba (and also in Venezuela) the speedbumps are called “policia acostado” which literally means “lying down cop” which I find very graphic given the speed reduction goal of the bumps.
I found your site very interesting and helpfull because in the Miami TV they run nice Mexican comedies and shows that sometimes are heavy on slang and us Cubans don’t get it. I think probably the same hapen to other spanish speakers with some Miami TV shows that have a lot of Cuban slang.
Thanks for your comment, and for the Cuban slang–that’s a good one.
chispate Heard it used in San Antonio Texas as a command to leave…to leave quickly
does ‘Chingon como mi padre’ mean ‘fucking badass (or cool) like my father’? Is it considered offensive? I have found a very cool design with this and am thinking of getting it as a tattoo.
Also, does the feminine version ‘Chingona’ have the same meaning when in this same context?
Yes, Its considered as badass or cool in both femenime and masculine ways
In PR we called speedbumps LOMOS
how about, “Ya estas?” did not see it on your list… means agreeing on terms, or ok. usuallly in a combination of words, “Orale, ya estas” “Orale, ya tas” for short…
In my experience, Wey or guey does mean dude but it’s meant in a very masculine way, like a bull or ox. It’s also only used between guys who know each other very well. It’s not meant for use casually between men that don’t know each other or for a white guy to call a Mexican guy as a casual acquaintance. I said this once to a Mexican guy I just met and he was not happy and said to use “ese” instead. Ese is a more general and polite word for dude. Others have said the same. This was some years ago but thought I’d mention.
You’re completely right on the wey part, but ”ese” its considered very ”street or urban gang style” I would suggest ”amigo” as of friend
Correct. Ese stands for ‘S’, which is really American-Salvadorian, like the Chicano word Vato, but ese really means a member of the mara salvatrucho. Its used a lot in the east side of LA between little badass guys.
Wey is definitely used between women as well – I call my female friends wey. It’s true men say it a lot more but between female friends you hear wey quite a bit.
I’d agree that it’s usually used between people who know each other but I’ve seen it where people who after 15 minutes of talking at a place like a bar will start to use it between themselves.
You can also say wey to refer to just about any person in the same way you’d use “guy” in English. Like “what did that guy say?” would be “qué dijo ese wey?”
It’s pretty crazy how frequently wey is used now. It’s pretty universal and is constantly getting more and more general use. I thought it was pretty silly at first but once you start doing it it’s hard to stop. I’m fully aboard the Wey Train now.
I know this list is now 3 years old, but a expression i hear a ton of now esp out of Baja California is “Arre.” But you probably know this already. Great list, still relevant even today.
This was great, thanks!
I knew how to say a lot of this (from learning at work) but not how to spell it.
Could you post a link to the second part here?
Thank you. I still haven’t published the second part. When I do, it will probably be a book.
Ha de cuenta, “pelón” es de “pelar.”
In Mexican slang, what does “griefo mean” in English ?
Grifo means “high,” like from marijuana. “mean” is probably a Spanish pronunciation of “man.” Mexicans might say “men” instead, even when talking to only one person.
I’ve been searching everywhere and can’t find some background on “talking papas” or what I assume is like “talking sh$#”. Got anything on this phrase?
It’s actually “hablando pajas”. It means talking bullshit. Its not really the same as talking shit, because in America talking shit means you are saying things to insult someone else. When you are talking bullshit, that’s different, it means you are saying half-truths or lies and made up crap. That is what it means when you are “hablando pajas”.
What about cevole? Probably not how is spelled. A greeting
What would be their way of saying “What the fuck?”
uf! that word has a lot of meanings in spanish but the most used would be ¿Qué chingados?
Seems the new slang for half gallons of liquor is a “handle”. Would that follow that the “pata de elefante” might also be called a “manija”? Just throwing that our there.
Alv, te mamaste. Biggest fan, my girlfriend is Turkish, and she loves studying Mexican slang hahaha, thanks for such a complete dictionary, though, you should add Verga and its many variants.
This is excellent! Pero algo esencial falta… Verga, wey, ¿como vas a olvidar eso?? Se pasa de verga, esto es la verga, eso está de la verga, etc. Hay un chingo de expresiones con esta palabra, hay que agregarla
I wonder about that word too. I asked a Mexican guy friend once and he was shocked as i was a woman asking! He wouldn’t even translate because he said I was decent woman and could not reply. Maybe he overreacted but since then others have said it’s super vulgar; worse than F-word
What about Bruja?
When I was in the Army, I had many Hispanic roommates and friends that loved to teach me a lot of the words on this list and a few more. I do not see one that I heard a lot. I think it was spelled ouetto ( pronounced Wet-oh) and they said it meant white boy. What do you think?
It might be Güero
maybe guerito (little white boy)
probably vato (guy) or Güero?
Gavacho or guero in Mexico, there’s a lot of ways to say white folks, but those two almost sound like what you are saying.
Awesome list of words and TexMex/Slang phrases. Was looking for an expression I remember being used, but not sure of it’s spelling.
“Ya queyas!” Or something like that.
Friend: Vamos a las vistas!
Me: Yaqueas! (or, Ya queyas).
All these words and phrases bring back fond memories. My dad’s (may he rest in peace) favorite phrase was “o que la fregada”. Now when I’m frustrated I find myself saying it. O hear my dad’s voice when I do 🙂
Awesome list that helps me take the mickey out of my Mexican friends 😂😂😂 muchos gracias!
Ted, es el mejor texto que he encontrado en línea que se trate de modismos mexicanos, pero nos falta parte 2!
Por favor, publícalo para todas las generaciones futuros 🙂
what does menso mean? I thought it meant dummy.
Yes all my family has used menso once or twice lol it does mean dummy lol my abuela use to slap mi hermano over his head when he would break something for running around the house n call him “menso” or “stupido” …. It’s been like that in my family 4 generations!!!!!
Baboso means the same as menso, I know that word is used in Mexico, butnut may be used in other places too. I think it really means someone who drools which in slang is considered a dumb person, I think.
Mexican slang- what does it mean when a man calls a woman flaquis?
It means “flaca” — thin
Best explanation of slang words I’ve ever encountered! Muchas gracias. Looking forward to part 2.
I grew up hearing “catorce” or “catorces” as a mild expletive from my Jalisco born mother. However, I’ve never seen it used as a curse, outside my family. Any thoughts?
Your mum saying “forteen” Is probably just that mum thing where shes saying a non vulgar word to express the frustration
My grandma used to say “Jobbies” which is basically little jobs in English
Joven. A way to address someone like – Oye joven – when you don’t know their name. Like ‘hey kid’
Really bad norteño, or even more so sorry of the border: ¿Quien ocupa un rite? Who can give me a ride? Or: si me ocupas – if you have work for me, or if you wanna hire me.
I don’t know where Chele or Cheves came from, but my understanding is Chela came before Micheladas. Mi chela helada. Also no one in Spain knows what a chela Is lol.
Some other fun ones:
This is extremely rare but there is a dish in Baja. Never had it in a restaurant only with family in someone’s house: charro (which you mentioned above). Delicious dip similar to ceviche but with mussels instead of clams and fish and shrimp (and seems to refer to mussels themselves but only in certain circles)
Vale. Ok. (Or just Va.)
Here’s a weird one: ¿Cómo son? This can mean – what’s in it (food such as tamales or pupusas), but in some cases people mean how much does it cost.
Primo. Like ‘ hola primo’ literally means cousin but you can extend to anyone you’re cool with.
What does it mean to call someone “Trasado” I think thats how you spell it
maybe its short for “retrasado” which means “retarded”
“Tocayo: Not an exclusively Mexican word, but interesting because there’s no equivalent in English, a tocayo is someone with the same name as you. You can say somos tocayos or just call the person with the same name as you tocayo, like a nickname (apodo).” This isn’t true. In English, tocayo is namesake.
I disagree. Would you call someone your age your namesake? A friend, a casual acquaintance, someone you just met at a party?
Would you say, “Hey namesake, what’s up namesake, how you doing namesake?”
Thought namesake was when named after someone like a relative or family friend. ex my cousin was named after his grandfather = namesake. I meet someone for first time and learn we share the same name, no relation just coincidence = tocaya
in the west of Mexico i hear men use the word ‘canijon’….i can find no reference to it……does anyone know the meaning?
Canijo, or Canijón; Canijo can be related to some difficult.
Eg. “El examen estuvo canijo.” The exam was difficult.
However it can also mean someone is really good at something.
Eg. “Es canijo para la Química.” He is really good at Chemistry.
Canijón is just a variant.
Reader be warned: I would have to say that, “pinche” is not as mild as you make it seem with, “damn” as the translation. I would say it’s more like, “fucking”.
Not really ( I am mexican born). Pinche is mild kind of a prefix word for everything. Me entendiste cabrón? Pinche comment.
Pinche is kind of strong though, you would NEVER say that in front of the church congregation or your school teacher or your new girlfriend’s mom.
Most informative and interesting side I have visited on this subject. Can’t wait till part 2, good work
What does “falda” mean in Mexican slang ? Is it a pejorative for gay? Does it mean fag? Or some such ? If an angry little shoe shine boy were calling you “falda!” Would he be calling you a fag perhaps? I heard it another time when some guys in a restaurant were talking about a customer and I think they said ” falda ombré ” snigger snigger. What do you know about this one? Thanks güey!!!
I haven’t heard it used in that way, but you’re probably right. “Falda” means skirt, and can be used to mean women, like in English: there’s a lot of skirts here. So if you call a man that…
Falda is a skirt. Alone may mean a woman bit is not common. Lios de faldas on the other hand is to be in trouble with or because of women.
Thanks for writing this excellent article Ted!
It’s the best one I’ve found on Mexican slang, and it’s been extremely helpful to me as a writer.
I love the commentaries following each term, and it really makes me want to further explore learning the Spanish language.
Where is the next edition? This is great!
I’m from Chihuahua and I would just add that, at least in the north, we also use “jeta” as slang for “nap”.
Me voy a echar una jeta – I’m gonna take a nap.
Ya me voy a jetear. -I’m off to bed.
Me estoy quedando jetón/jetona. – I”m falling asleep.
In the bad word section i’d add “ogete” (“ojete” with a J means ). It is use in the same context as “culero”.
Cómo eres ogete! – You are such an asshole!
Where did you get the idea that there’s no v sound in Spanish? That’s incorrect.
The way v is pronounced in English, with the upper teeth on the lower lip and vibration of the vocal chords, does not exist in Spanish. So in Spanish, v and b are basically the same — there are slight differences in some dialects (stop v. fricative).
This is common knowledge. Google it to find countless resources.
Hello Ted, This is a very good information for foreigns that want to travel to Mexico. Do you have the second part ready?
Thank you Beatriz — I have the words for the second part, but haven’t had the time to put it all together.
Much of the slang is regional. In the north west, specifically Sonora and Sinaloa, I don’t hear zócalo used. Instead they say el centro.
They say, un chingo y media, for a whole lot.
Pajarito is penis, nidito is vagina. El pajarito necesito su nidito, is suggestive of wanting sex.
Panocha is somewhat vulgar slang for vagina. Do, un panochero is a gynecologist.
Verga is vulgar slang for penis, but is often used alone as a curse when something bad or frustrating occurred. ¡Verga! Like someonemight say, damn, shit, f#ck, etc.
I don’t hear Mijo in the North. Neither do they use joven.
They use tata and nana for Grandpa and Grandma.
Nachas for butt. Buenas nachas is nice butt. It’s more like a joke on good night, buenas noches when you’re flirting with a girl.
Nachas? I know nalgas for butt.
find myself re-reading this and a couple of things came to mind.
Drinking – When you buy “un 6” (six pack), you can refer to a single lata (can) as “un bote”. Don’t ask me why.
Chancletas – When you’re walking around in your chancletas you’re chancleteado
Mijo – I’ve heard people use this affectionately outside of family relationships. I’ve heard it used when addressing a waiter. I guess you can use it when you want to be extra friendly. Not sure about the etiquette on this one.
Refresco – I’ve heard (and used) the shortened version of this, chesco.
Gacho – A funny joke I came across – “no digas chale porque se escucha gacho”. The joke here is that you shouldn’t say chale because it sounds really bad, but the irony of this is the word gacho also sounds bad. Hope that makes sense.
Desmadre – Glad to see this on the list, one of my favorite words, but I believe hacer desmadre is missing.
As greeting, que tranza is a good one. Don’t think I saw that one.
And did I miss mota? Or are you not going down that path, lol.
This is such an awesome list. Looking forward to the next revision. 😉
Thanks as always Rodney–allow me to ask, you are from California, right? And travel mostly in the north of Mexico? Because there’s slang up there I don’t know. Like chancleteado — down here it’s chancludo.
Un six is great slang–thank you, I will add it. There are even beer stores (for Tecate I think) called “six.”
Yes, mijo can be used affectionately and somewhat condescendingly, like calling your friend “son.”
Oh yes, desmadre is in there, under madre.
Mota opens up so much more slang, which will be in part 2.
Hey Ted, Thanks to your reply I just noticed a typo I made. Chancleteado should actually be chancleteaNdo, from chancletear.
And I did see desmadre, but there’s also the expression “hacer desmadre”, which is something along the lines of raising hell, or getting wild on night out, not really sure how to translate that.
And yes, the vast majority of the slang I’ve learned is from Northen Mexico, specifically Tijuana.
I actually live in GA, I just really happen to like Tijuana and travel there somewhat frequently. Nice party town and the food out that way is awesome.
Que chingóna entrada! Nice work.
You mentioned La Banda and I immediately thought of the expressions chichis por la banda.
And the picture of the Volkswagon made me think of the word vocho, which is how you refer to the original Volkswagon, not sure if they use it for the new models as well.
Gracias Rodney. I’ve got vocho on the list, and yes I’ve heard people use it for the new one too. I’ve never heard chichis por la banda, although I know chichis. Can you explain?
People start shouting “chichi’s por la banda”, trying to convince a girl to show her chichi’s. It happens at concerts for sure and probably any other kind of event.
Don’t know if you’re ever experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but it’s the equivalent of their custom of shouting “show your tits”.
You can see it action if you want.
Nice! Where’d you learn that — Tijuana?
I love this!! 😀 lol está chido
gracias fabiola, que amable
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