25 Guatemalan Slang Terms to Help You Sound Like a Local
So you’re set on going to Guatemala?
Planning to hike near volcanoes, swim in Lake Atitlan or roam the markets of Chichicastenango?
Hoping to be inspired by gorgeous hand-woven textiles, ancient architecture or the enduring mystery of Tikal?
Here’s my advice: Eat tons of plantains—fried with black beans and rice. Dance to music played by street musicians near the fountain in Antigua. Take a ride to Laguna Magdalena (Lake Magdalena) and jump into the cold, turquoise water.
And before you go, learn some of these great slang terms to converse with the locals!
The “official” Spanish word for a person from Guatemala is Guatemalteco but the term is rarely used outside of textbooks.
Instead, Chapín refers to a Guatemalan male and Chapina to a female.
María es chapina. (María is from Guatemala.)
2. A huevos
This literally means “to the eggs,” but it is used to say “for sure.”
¿Quieres ir al cine mañana? (Do you want to go to the movies tomorrow?)
A huevos. (For sure.)
This means that you’re in agreement with a situation, that something is right or correct or that it’s “all good.”
Literally, the word translates to English as “thorough,” but in Guatemala it’s used much more loosely.
Esta musica es cabal. (This music is good.)
This is the shortened variant of the word calidad, which means “quality,” but Guatemalans use it to say something is cool, or that it exceeds their expectations.
Ese restaurante es calidá. (That restaurant is cool.)
This is a very versatile word.
It can mean a big piece of excrement, but it’s often used between very close friends as a stand-in for the word “dude.”
¿Qué tal, cerote? (What’s up, dude?)
Of course, its literal translation is “water,” but when you hear this spoken loudly it means that danger is approaching.
¡Aguas! Una coche viene. (Watch out! A car is coming.)
This is another way of expressing appreciation, so if you like what’s being suggested, just use this word!
This is one that has lots of related meanings such as “awesome,” “pretty,” “good,” etc.
Vamos a Panajachel el lunes. (We’re going to Panajachel on Monday.)
This is a slang expression for “cash,” so if you’re going out to eat or plan to catch a tuk-tuk, be sure you have some pisto in your pocket.
¿Tiene pisto para el mercado? (Do you have cash for the market?)
9. Ser muy viernes
When faced with an event that’s kind of a drag, locals often say, “Ser muy viernes.”
Literally, it means “It’s so Friday,” but it’s understood that Friday means old or something that’s dull.
Este desfile es muy viernes. (This parade is a drag.)
This word literally means “nail.” For whatever slangy reason, it’s the word commonly used to declare there’s a problem.
Tengo un clavo con mi coche. (I have a problem with my car.)
So, literally, the word means “dog,” but it’s used to refer to a greedy person.
For example, if someone tried to overcharge you on a job or at the market, you would call that person a chucho.
In this instance, it’s a little derogatory—but sometimes it’s a term of endearment!
Él trató de cobrarme 100 quetzales; ¡qué chucho! (He tried to charge me 100 quetzals, what a cheapskate!)
You have to know before you go that the chicken buses in Guatemala are the workhorses of the transportation system.
They’re everywhere, and, very often, have ornately-painted female names above their windshields.
You’ll often hear them referred to as a burra, from the word burro (donkey), but this is actually the word for any type of bus.
Tomo una burra para ir al trabajo. (I take a bus to work.)
If you need a quick little snack, this is the word for you.
You’ll likely see appetizer-like boquitas advertised at restaurants or things like chips and nuts for sale at the small convenience stores.
Necesito ir a la tienda para comprar boquitas. (I need to go to the store to buy snacks.)
This refers to someone who is blonde and is often used as a term of endearment.
Mi mejor amiga es una canche. (My best friend is a blondie.)
This is a slang term for a car.
Compraré un nuevo charnel cuando termine la escuela. (I will buy a new car when I finish school.)
Chivas means all your things or “stuff.”
Tengo que recoger mis chivas. (I need to clear up my stuff.)
While we know that chicken buses are all over Guatemala and they’re often referred to as burras, you may also hear them be called camionetas.
Esa camioneta es muy bonita. (That chicken bus is really cute.)
Now that you know that chicken buses have multiple names, it’s good to know what the attendees are called.
A brocha will collect money, call out the next stops and do anything else that needs to be done on the bus.
Dile a la brocha que necesitas ir a la calle Santander. (Tell the bus assistant that you need to go to Santander Road.)
This doesn’t really have a direct translation but is used in informal situations to tell someone to shut up or grab their attention.
¡Sho! Necesito decirte algo. (Shut up! I need to tell you something.)
This one can mean one of two things. Casaca can either be a lie or something that is easy.
Me dijo una casaca sobre su familia. (She told me a lie about her family.)
Sí, es una casaca hacerlo. (Yes, it’s easy to do it.)
If you head to the Guatemalan coast, you’ll probably do a lot of peluche.
Peluche is to relax or do nothing.
Estoy muy cansada después mi vuelo y he estado de peluche. (I’m very tired after my flight and I’ve just relaxed.)
This means “wow!” Use it to express excitement or amazement.
¡Gané la lotería! (I won the lottery!)
This is a cute little term you’ll probably hear often to refer to a child.
Los patajos van a escuela de lunes a viernes. (The kids go to school Monday through Friday.)
This literally means “to peel,” but Guatemalans use it to refer to gossiping or talking behind someone’s back.
Deja de pelar, es grosero. (Stop gossiping, it’s rude.)
This term refers to someone who’s nosey.
No te lo voy a decir, shute. (I’m not going to tell you, nosey.)
Why Learn Guatemalan Slang?
There is more to speaking a language than what comes in the typical textbook.
Knowing a language’s slang will bring you a whole new level of understanding and ability to connect with the natives.
Slang differs even by region, so it’s good to know what things only Guatemalans say that even Spanish speakers from other regions may not catch onto.
Knowing Guatemalan slang will also make your experience abroad much more authentic.
You’ll be able to communicate as the natives will, strengthening those relationships.
If you want to get some practice with Guatemalan slang, I recommend trying to get as much exposure to native speakers as possible!
Even if you can’t converse with a Guatemalan, you can use a program like FluentU to immerse yourself from home.
FluentU uses native video clips from movies, TV shows, music videos and more to show you how the language is actually used.
FluentU’s media library will have some options from Guatemalan sources that can help you pick up on these terms even better!
Find FluentU on iOS or Android.
Now that you know all this Guatemalan slang, you’ll be able to fit in and soon you might hear your new friends say, “¡Qué chilero!” when you pass by!