So you're well on your way to learning Spanish and you're proud of your progress in the classroom. Then suddenly you try to have a conversation with someone whose native language is Spanish - and your pride is shattered.Wasdid you just say?
If this has happened to you before, don't worry! It probably means you have to learn somethingSpanish jargonunderstand informal Spanish vocabulary.Spanishis natively spoken in over 20 countries and has even more native speakers than English, making it an incredibly diverse language with many different slang words and phrases.
Let us walk you through some of the most popular onesSpanish colloquial words and phrasesthroughout Latin America and Europe. We cover popular Spanish slang for friend, Spanish slang for cool, Spanish slang for texting, and more. We'll also break down some of the most popular slangs per country, so you'll know what to say next time you visit.
With this nifty guide, you'll soon be able to have casual conversations like a local!
Why you should know Spanish slang
There are over 20 Spanish-speaking countries worldwide. Just as English-speaking countries like the US, UK, and Australia have unique slang, different countries in Latin America and Europe have different Spanish slang words.
Learning a variety of Spanish slang phrases will allow you to:
- Travel comfortably through Latin America and Spain.
- Save yourself some embarrassing situations by not knowing the local Spanish slang.
- Communicate more effectively and naturally with locals.
- Sounds more like a fluent speaker.
- Understand local memes and internet jokes!
- Watch YouTube videos, TV shows and other colloquial digital media from different countries.
Although learning slang Spanish can seem daunting, it is also a fun experience that will open many doors for you in your Spanish learning journey.
Download our free guide to Spanish slang!
Now that you're excited about learning Spanish slang, let's get into it. We coverthe most popular Spanish slang words and phrasesand provide their English translation and Spanish pronunciation for English speakers. Essentially, we're going to recreate the sounds with English words so you know how to say each word without having to imitate a native speaker!
Remember that Spanish slang is pronounced differently in each country. For example, Spaniards generally pronounce the letterCAs athwhile Mexicans pronounce it asS. The Spanish pronunciation column in the tables below reflects the local pronunciation for each country for accuracy.
Spanish colloquial words
Spanish is a heavily regionalized language, so most countries have their own slang. Some colloquial words can even have completely different meanings in different countries.
Before we get into country-specific slang, here are some Spanish slang words that are pretty universal.
|Spanish colloquial word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|good guy||bweh-nah-zoh||Really good|
|To blame||you-no||A thing|
|Questions||Mahn-deh||What? / Come back?|
Common Spanish slang phrases
Spanish slang phrases are also highly dependent on the country. Many nationals have slightly (or very!) different ways of saying things. Here are some common slang phrases that can be understood fairly well in almost any Spanish speaking country.
|Spanish colloquial phrase||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|To insert the batteries||Poh-nehr-seh las pee-las||To increase it|
|Talk nineteen to the dozen||Ah-blahr for go coh-dos||Be very talkative|
|Give a helping hand||Eh-chahr oo-nah mah-nein||To help someone|
|Jilt||Deh-har plahn-tah-doh||lift someone up|
|drop fat||kah-ehr gor-doh||dislike someone|
|Mala pata||Mah-la Pah-tah||Bad luck|
Spanish slang forFreund
when you studySpanish, you probably know thatFreundis the word for "friend". However, did you know that there are dozens of other ways you can relate to your friends? Below are some of the most common Spanish slang terms for "friend" including the country where each word is used.
|Spanish slang for friend||Spanish pronunciation||Country where it is used|
|Weil||The couple case||Colombia.|
|Taste||Ya-veh||Chile and Colombia|
|Compa||Come on||Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Argentina.|
|Dude||Kwah-Tee||Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Bolivia.|
|eaves||Ah-and-ro||Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.|
|Bis||Pah-nah||Panama, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and more.|
|Brother||Er-mah-nein||Practically all of Latin America.|
|Pata||Pah-ta||Cuba, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.|
|Carnal||Carnal||Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Argentina.|
|Brother||Bro-dehr||Most of Latin America.|
Spanish slang forCool
One of the first things you'll notice about Spanish slang words is that most countries have different ways of saying cool. Our chart below will prepare you for coolness with the Spanish slang you need to survive anywhere.
|Spanish slang for cool||Spanish pronunciation||Country where it is used|
|Barbar||Bar-bah row||Argentina and Uruguay.|
|Cool||Boo-eh-nah On-da||Chile, Mexico and Argentina.|
|Mine||Cah-che-teh||Chile and Costa Rica.|
|Cool||Che-veh-reh||Most of Latin America.|
|billy goat||Chee-vo||The saviour.|
|Guy||Goo-I||Spain and parts of Mexico.|
|Piola||Pee-oh-la||Argentina and Chile.|
|at the top||Toh-pee-see-mo||Chile.|
|Tuani's||Too-ah-Knee||Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.|
Free downloadable guide to Spanish slang
We've made a list of popular slang words and phrases so you can start sounding like it and connect with Spanish locals. This slang guide will take your Spanish learning to the next level.
Other country-specific Spanish slang
|Mexican slang word||Pronunciation||English meaning|
|Naturally!||Ah weh-voh||Damn yes!|
|punishment||Chee-lan-go||Someone from Mexico City|
|Really||No human chess||No way|
|Güey/Wey||Goo-ay / woo-ay||Alter|
|network||Neh-tah||Really? / The truth|
|At the moment||Ah-oh-ree-tah||At this very moment|
|Colombian slang word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|The patch||Sie par-che||A group of friends|
|the Tombos||Come on Tom-Bohs||The police|
|a fourteen||Oon kah-tor-se||A favor|
|Cuban slang word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|Yuma||Yoo-ma||A foreigner who is not from Latin America.|
|A buddy||Oon ma-teh||French kiss.|
|We have plundered!||No-s pee-ya-mos||See you soon!|
|your briefcase!||Zu mah-and-teen||That's your problem!|
|I'm sliding||Meh Res-bah-la||I do not care|
|¡ Chao pescao!||Cha-oh pis-kah-oh||Good bye!|
|Must score||Meh pee-ro||I'm leaving|
|Peruanisches Slangwort||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|At the moment||Al toh-keh||Very fast|
|No||woe-veh-are||Actively doing nothing|
|Pina||Pee-n-yah||Someone with bad luck|
|Pituco||Pee-too-koh||A rich person|
|argentinisches Slangwort||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|child / girl||Pee-beh / Pee-bah||guy / girl|
|have straw||Ten-water-pah-ha||feeling lazy|
|have bad milk||Ten air mal-ah Lay-che||be unlucky|
|Chilenisches Slangwort||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|Pololo / Polola||Poh-low-low / Pow-low-la||Boyfriend Boyfriend Girlfriend|
|Venezuelan slang word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|A tool||Cheem-bo||Cheap or inferior.|
|Here||Drill-da||Very / really.|
|Mixed up||Ma-ma-ra-cho||A ridiculous thing or person|
|Want||Cho-row||A thief or criminal|
|Quedao||Kay-da-oh||A slow person (mentally)|
|far away||La-dee-ya-doh||To be annoyed|
Spanish slang in Spain
|Spanish colloquial word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning|
|freak out||Flee-par||Getting crazy|
|Breaded||Em-pa-nah-doh||Someone slow (mentally)|
|become angry||Kah-breh-are-seh||To get mad|
|shabby||Koo-treh||opposite of sweet|
|Alt||The Vee-eh-hos||My parents|
|Puente||Poo-en-teh||A long weekend|
Other Spanish slang from places not mentioned above
|Spanish colloquial word||Spanish pronunciation||English meaning||Country where it is used|
|Tico/Tica||Tee-co / Tee-ca||A person from Costa Rica.||Costa Rica|
|That's it!||Dee-ja||An exclamation word expressing confusion.||Costa Rica|
|Tiguere||Tee-guh-reh||A street smart person.||Dominican Republic|
|grocery store||Kohl-ma-doh||A corner store||Dominican Republic|
|sought||Dear Cha||A celebration||Dominican Republic|
|bay||Cal-seh-ta||house or home||Ecuador|
|¡ Puchika!||Poo-chee-ca||Damned!||The saviour|
|Everyone / You||Che-ro / Che-ra||guy / girl||The saviour|
|Which soup?||Kay So-pah||What works?||Panama|
Frequently asked questions about Spanish slang
What is Spanish SMS Slang?
Just as English speakers use LOL, TTYL, and ILY when texting, Spanish speakers use a lot of slang when messaging each other. Here are some of the most common Spanish SMS slang acronyms you should know.
|Spanish SMS slang||Spanish meaning||English meaning|
|X||Von||From / why|
|TQM/TKM||I love you so much||I like you very much (friendly)|
|KYT||Be quiet||Keep your mouth shut|
|TB||so good / all good||That's okay / everything is fine|
What is Spanish slang for money?
As you can imagine, there are many different Spanish slang words for money. Here are some of the most common ones so you never get caught off-guard when it comes to money:
What is Spanish slang for girlfriend?
Calling your girlfriend with a cute slang name is common across Latin America. If you're trying to impress your Hispanic girlfriend, try calling her one of the following Spanish slang words for girlfriend:
- My life
- My princess
- my girl
- The owner of my fortnight
- My girlfriend
When is it Appropriate to Use Spanish Slang?
Spanish slang should be strictly limited to casual and informal conversation. You should never use slang in a formal setting, such as school, work, or any formal setting. Always try to limit the amount of slang you use when first meeting someone with higher authority than you, like your boss, your spouse's parents, or public officials.
Read our post on formal and informal greetings in Spanish hereif you are looking for expert guidance.
Tips for learning colloquial Spanish
Learning Spanish slang is one of the few things you most likely can't accomplish in a classroom setting. No matter howImprove your Spanish lessonsIf you are, you probably won't spend a lot of time learning Spanish slang as you will focus on grammar structures and vocabulary instead.
Here are some great tips to improve your knowledge of Spanish slang so you become more like a native speaker.
Find Spanish speaking friends
The best way to learn Spanish slang is through practice. Making Spanish-speaking friends and communicating with them constantly is the best way to improve your understanding of Spanish slang.
Will you have trouble understanding slang as it occurs naturally in conversation? Secure. Could you be embarrassed if you abuse slang? It happens! But the best way to learn slang is through trial and error. Just keep talking to your Spanish-speaking friends and you'll soon pick up and master every slang word they use.
Immerse yourself in the language
Fulllanguage deepeningis a great way to improve your language skills all round. If you're trying to expand your Spanish slang vocabulary, there's no better way than to expose yourself to everyday conversations where slang is most likely to appear naturally.
When full physical immersion is not possible due to work or family commitments, you can do your best to transform your life into a Spanish-speaking environment.
You can do this by:
- listen to spanish music
- Watch Spanish TV shows.
- Listen to Spanish podcasts.
- Reading Spanish books, especially novels.
- Watch YouTube videos from Spanish YouTubers.
All of these are excellent ways to increase the amount of Spanish slang you are exposed to on a regular basis.
Read informal online forums
One of the problems with reading books to increase your exposure to Spanish slang is that they tend to be heavily edited and written in basic Spanish. A great way to get around this is to read what native speakers write and post online without filtering. Online forums are an ideal place for this.
If you have hobbies or passions, chances are there are many Spanish language forums online that you will find interesting. Google some of your interests in Spanish plus the word "went' and you're sure to find an exciting website with lots of native content for you to consume!
Some final key takeaways
Learning Spanish slang words can take your language skills to the next level. Just knowing how to put sentences together and use textbook vocabulary will not be enough to master daily life in Spain, Latin America or other dominant Spanish-speaking regions.
Luckily, learning slang Spanish is now easier than ever thanks to the internet and how you can mimic immersion from the comfort of your own home.
We hope you found thisguidewith Spanish slang phrases constructive and entertaining. If you are traveling to any of the countries featured in our guide, we strongly recommend that you memorize each slang word for that country before you visit - and bookmark this page and come back to it regularly!
Expand your Spanish skills
Learn with Berlitz