Mexican Slang: 50 Spanish Words and Expressions to Sound Like a Local
Looking to have a huge head start when you travel to Mexico?
You’ve gotta learn the slang.
In this post, I’m going to give you a brief introduction to the country’s unique version of Spanish—and by the time we’re done, you’ll be better prepared to navigate a slang-filled conversation with Mexicans!
- Common Mexican Slang Words and Expressions
- 1. ¡Qué padre! (Cool!)
- 2. Me vale madre (I don’t care)
- 3. Poca madre (Really cool)
- 4. Fresa (Preppy)
- 5. ¡Aguas! (Be careful!)
- 6. En el bote (In jail)
- 7. Estar crudo (To be hungover)
- 8. ¡A huevo! (**** yeah!)
- 9. Chilango (Someone from Mexico City)
- 10. Te crees muy muy (You think you’re something special)
- 11. Ese (Dude)
- 12. Metiche (Busybody)
- 13. Pocho/a (A Mexican who’s left Mexico)
- 14. Naco (Tacky)
- 15. Cholo (Mexican gangster)
- 16. Güey (Dude)
- 17. Carnal (Close friend)
- 18. ¿Neta? (Really?)
- 19. Eso que ni que (Phrase to show agreement)
- 20. Ahorita (Right now)
- 21. Ni modo (Whatever)
- 22. No hay tos (No problem)
- 23. Sale (Okay, sure)
- 24. Coda/o (Someone who’s cheap)
- 25. Tener feria (To have money/change)
- 26. Buena onda (Good vibes)
- 27. ¿Qué onda? (What’s up?)
- 28. ¡Viva México! (Long live Mexico!)
- 29. Pendejo (Jerk)
- 30. Cabrón (Mean, not very smart, awesome)
- 31. Pedo (Drunk, problem)
- 32. Pinche (Ugly, cheap)
- 33. Verga (Male genitalia)
- 34. Chingar (To f***)
- 35. ¡No manches! / ¡No mames! (No way, don’t mess with me)
- 36. Está cañón (Difficult)
- 37. Chido (Nice, cool)
- 38. Chulo/a (Good-looking person)
- 39. ¿A poco? (Really?)
- 40. ¡Órale! (Right on!)
- 41. Chela (Beer)
- 42. La tira (The cops)
- 43. ¿Mande? (What?)
- 44. Suave (Cool)
- 45. Gacho (Mean)
- 46. Ándale (Hurry up)
- 47. Chale (Give me a break)
- 48. Chamba/Chambear (Work)
- 49. Bronca (Problem)
- 50. Paro (Favor)
- What You Need to Know About Mexican Spanish
- Resources for Learning Mexican Slang
- Why You Should Learn Mexican Slang
Common Mexican Slang Words and Expressions
Mexican slang could be a language of its own.
Just a word of warning— some terms on this list may be considered rude by many people and should be used with caution.
1. ¡Qué padre! (Cool!)
This phrase’s literal translation, “How father!”, doesn’t make much sense at all, but it can be understood to mean “cool!” or “awesome!”
¡Conseguí entradas para Daddy Yankee! (I got tickets for Daddy Yankee!)
¡Qué padre, güey! (Awesome, dude!)
2. Me vale madre (I don’t care)
This phrase is used to say “I don’t care.” It’s not quite a curse, but it can be considered offensive in more formal situations.
If used with the word que (that), remember you need to use the subjunctive.
Me vale madre lo que haga con su vida. (I don’t care what he does with his life).
3. Poca madre (Really cool)
Literally translated as “little mother,” this phrase is used to describe something really cool.
Once again, this phrase can be considered offensive (and is mostly used among groups of young men).
Esta canción está poca madre. (This song is really cool).
4. Fresa (Preppy)
Literally a “strawberry,” a fresa is not something you want to be.
Somewhat similar to the word “preppy” in the United States, a fresa is a young person from a wealthy family who’s self-centered, superficial and materialistic.
Ella es una fresa. (She’s preppy/rich/stuck up).
5. ¡Aguas! (Be careful!)
This phrase is used throughout Mexico to mean “be careful!” or “look out!”
Literally meaning “waters,” it’s possible that this usage evolved from housewives throwing buckets of water to clean the sidewalks in front of their homes.
¡Aguas! El piso está mojado. (Be careful! The floor’s wet).
6. En el bote (In jail)
The word bote means “can” (as in a can of soda).
However, when a Mexican says someone is “en el bote,” they mean someone is “in the slammer,” “in jail.”
Adrián no puede venir, ¡está en el bote! (Adrian can’t come, he’s in jail!)
7. Estar crudo (To be hungover)
Estar crudo means “to be raw,” as in food that hasn’t been cooked.
However, if someone in Mexico tells you they’re crudo, it means they’re hungover because they’ve drunk too much alcohol.
Estoy muy crudo hoy. (I’m really hungover today).
8. ¡A huevo! (**** yeah!)
Huevos (eggs) are often used to denote a specific part of the male anatomy—you can probably guess which—and they’re also used in a wide variety of slang phrases.
¡A huevo! is a vulgar way to show excitement or approval. Think “eff yeah!” without the self-censorship.
¡Ganamos el partido! (We won the game!)
¡A huevo! Me alegra. (**** yeah! I’m glad)
9. Chilango (Someone from Mexico City)
This slang term means something, usually a person, who comes from Mexico City.
Calling someone a chilango is saying that they’re representative of the culture of the city.
¿Eres chilango? (Are you from Mexico City?)
10. Te crees muy muy (You think you’re something special)
This literally means “you think you’re very very” but the slang meaning is more of “you think you’re something special,” or “you think you’re all that.”
Often, this is used to power down someone who’s boastful or thinks they’re better than anyone else.
Te crees muy muy desde que conseguiste ese trabajo. (You think you’re all that since you got that job).
11. Ese (Dude)
Supposedly, in the 1960s members of a Mexican gang called the Sureños (“Southerners”) used to call each other “ese” (after the first letter of the gang’s name).
However, in the ’80s, the word ese started to be used to refer to men in general, meaning something like “dude” or “dawg”.
It’s also possible ese originated from expressions like ese vato (“that guy”), and from that, the word ese started to be used to refer to a man.
“¿Qué pedo, ese?” “What up, dawg?”
12. Metiche (Busybody)
Metiche is a slang word for someone who loves to get the scoop on everyone’s everything.
Some people would refer to this sort of person as a busybody!
¿De qué hablaste con tu amiga? (What did you talk about with your friend?)
Nada, ¡no seas tan metiche! (Nothing, don’t be such a busybody!)
13. Pocho/a (A Mexican who’s left Mexico)
This Mexican slang term refers to a Mexican who’s left Mexico or someone who’s perhaps forgotten their Mexican roots or heritage.
It can be used as just an observatory expression, but also as a derogatory slang word used to point out that someone’s at fault for not remembering their heritage.
Mis primos pochos vienen a visitar este fin de semana. (My pocho cousins are coming to visit this weekend).
14. Naco (Tacky)
Naco is a word used to describe someone or something poorly educated and bad-mannered.
The closest American equivalent would be “tacky” or “ghetto.”
The word has its origins in insulting indigenous and poor people, so be careful with this word!
Me parece un poco naco. (It seems a bit tacky).
15. Cholo (Mexican gangster)
Although the word cholo can have several meanings, it often refers to Mexican gangsters, especially Mexican American teens and youngsters who are in a street gang.
Vi unos cholos en la esquina. (I saw some gang members on the corner).
16. Güey (Dude)
This one is pronounced like the English word “way” and it’s one of the most quintessential Mexican slang words.
Originally used to mean “a stupid person,” the word eventually morphed into a term of endearment similar to the English “dude.”
¡Apúrate, güey! (Hurry up, dude!)
17. Carnal (Close friend)
Carnal comes from Spanish carne (meat).
It’s perhaps for this reason that carnal is used to describe a close friend who’s like a sibling to you, carne de tu carne or flesh of your flesh.
Allí está mi carnala Laura. (There’s my close friend Laura).
18. ¿Neta? (Really?)
“Truth?” or “really?” is what someone’s saying when they use this little word.
This popular conversational interjection is used to fill a lull in the chatter or to give someone the opportunity to come clean on an exaggeration.
Oftentimes, though, it’s just said to express agreement with the last comment in a conversation or to clarify something.
¿Neta? Pero ¿qué pasó? (Really? But what happened?)
19. Eso que ni que (Phrase to show agreement)
Don’t try to translate this literally—just know that this convenient phrase means that you’re in agreement with whatever’s being discussed.
Es muy bueno para bailar. (He’s really good at dancing).
Sí, baila mejor que todos, eso que ni que. (Yes, he dances better than everyone, no doubt about it).
20. Ahorita (Right now)
This translates as “little now” but the small word means right now, or at this very moment.
¡Tenemos que irnos ahorita! (We have to leave right now!)
21. Ni modo (Whatever)
Ni modo, which can be literally translated as “not way” or “either way,” is possibly one of the most popular Mexican expressions.
It’s generally used to say “eh, whatever” or “it is what it is.”
Ni modo can also be used with que (that) and a present subjunctive to say you can’t do something at the moment or there’s no way you’d do it.
It’s like saying “there’s no way” or “are you nuts?” in English.
Ni modo, hay mejores chicas/chicos en el mundo. (Oh well, there are better girls/guys in the world)
Ni modo que conteste, güey. (There’s no way I’m answering, man).
22. No hay tos (No problem)
No hay tos literally means “there’s no cough,” but it’s used to say “no problem” or “don’t worry about it.”
Lo siento, me olvidé mi billatera. ¿Tienes plata? (Sorry, I forgot my wallet. Do you have cash?)
No, pero no hay tos, comamos en la casa. (No, but no problem, let’s eat at home).
23. Sale (Okay, sure)
Sale means “okay,” “sure,” “yeah” or “let’s do it,” so it’s normally used in situations when someone suggests doing something and you agree.
It can also be used as a question tag when you want someone’s opinion or to see if they’re on the same page as you.
¿Vamos al concierto? (Shall we go to the concert?)
Sale, pero tendrás que prestarme lana. (Sure, but you’ll have to lend me some money.)
24. Coda/o (Someone who’s cheap)
Codo literally means “elbow” in English but Mexican slang has turned it into a term used to describe someone who’s cheap.
It can be applied to either gender, so pay attention to the -a or -o ending of this descriptive noun.
¡Ese codo ni pagó la cena! (That cheapskate didn’t even pay for dinner!)
25. Tener feria (To have money/change)
Feria means “fair” so the literal translation of this expression is “to have or be fair.”
However, feria also refers to coins when it’s used in Mexico. So, the phrase basically means “to have money” or “to have pocket change.”
¿Tienes feria? (Do you have money?).
26. Buena onda (Good vibes)
Buena onda literally translates to “good wave” but it’s used to indicate that there are good vibes or a good energy present.
Tienes buena onda. (You give off good vibes).
27. ¿Qué onda? (What’s up?)
This slangy Mexican expression translates to “what wave?” but is a cool way to ask “what’s up?”
It’s another feel-good, casual conversational expression that really adds a lot of good feelings to any chat.
¿Qué onda? ¿Cómo has estado? (What’s up? How have you been?)
28. ¡Viva México! (Long live Mexico!)
¡Viva México! literally means “long live Mexico!”
It’s the unifying phrase that says the country should grow, prosper and see happy times for its citizens and visitors.
It’s often shortened to “¡viva!” which means the same as the full phrase.
¡Ganamos el mundial! ¡Viva México! (We won the world cup! Long live Mexico!)
29. Pendejo (Jerk)
Pendejo is one of those magical words that appear in almost every Spanish variety but have a different meaning depending on where you are.
In Mexico, it has a rather rude meaning: “unpleasant or stupid person,” “jerk.”
No me hables, pendejo. (Don’t talk to me, jerk).
30. Cabrón (Mean, not very smart, awesome)
While technically cabrón means “big [male] goat,” it has plenty of other meanings.
Used as a rude word its meaning is quite similar to pendejo, but cabrón is higher in the rudeness scale: meaning unpleasant, mean or not very bright.
But change the tone a bit and you might, instead, be saying someone is awesome!
The word can even be used in place of the f-bomb, very often following bien—very, to mean you’re really awesome at doing something.
Soy bien cabrón jugando a Minecraft. (I’m friggin’ awesome at playing Minecraft).
31. Pedo (Drunk, problem)
A pedo is a fart, literally.
This word has lots of different meanings, depending on how you say it and the situation:
- Estar pedo — to be drunk
- Peda — drinking session
- Ser buen pedo — to give off good vibes
- Ser mal pedo — to be unfriendly or hostile
- ¿Qué pedo? — what’s up?
- Pedo — problem or argument
- Ponerse al pedo — to want a fight, or to have an attitude of defiance
¿Qué pedo contigo, cabrón? (What’s your problem, man?)
32. Pinche (Ugly, cheap)
The word pinche may sound quite unproblematic for many Spanish speakers because it literally means “kitchen helper.”
However, when in Mexico, this word goes rogue and acquires a couple of interesting meanings.
It can mean “ugly,” “substandard,” “poor” or “cheap,” but it can also be used as an all-purpose enhancer, much like the meaner cousin of “hecking” is used in English.
Eres un pinche loco. (You’re effing crazy).
33. Verga (Male genitalia)
Originally, the verga was the horizontal beam from which a ship’s sails were hung, but this word has come to mean a man’s schlong in Spanish nowadays.
You can also use this word as a standalone exclamation with the meaning of the f-bomb.
Here are a few more uses of the word:
- Creerse verga — to think you’re all that
- Valer verga — to be worthless
- Irse a la verga — a “lovely” way of telling someone to eff off
Tus palabras me valen verga. (Your words mean nothing to me).
34. Chingar (To f***)
Chingar means “to do the deed.” It’s Mexico’s version of the f-word. Simple.
Chingar is a word that’s prevalent in Mexican culture in its various forms and meanings.
¡Deja de chingar! (Stop f***ing around!)
35. ¡No manches! / ¡No mames! (No way, don’t mess with me)
These two phrases are essentially one and the same, hence why they’re grouped together.
Literally meaning “don’t stain!” and “don’t suck,” these are used to say “no way! You’re kidding me!” or “don’t mess with me!”
No manches is totally benign, but no mames is considered vulgar and can potentially be offensive.
¡No manches! ¿Pensé que habían terminado? (No way! I thought they had broken up?)
36. Está cañón (Difficult)
When you say that something está cañón (literally, “it’s cannon”), you’re saying “it’s hard/difficult.”
Some believe that the phrase arose as a more polite euphemism for está cabrón.
As a Spaniard, I find this meaning quite funny, because estar cañón means “to be very attractive” in Castilian Spanish.
El examen estuvo bien cañón. (The exam was very difficult).
37. Chido (Nice, cool)
This word is simply a fun way to say “nice” or “cool” in Mexican Spanish.
Despite its status as slang, it’s not vulgar or offensive in the least—so have fun with it!
It can be used as both a standalone exclamation (¡qué chido! — cool!) or as an adjective.
Tienes un carro bien chido. (You have a really cool car).
38. Chulo/a (Good-looking person)
When it comes to Mexico, chulo is used as an adjective to refer to people you find hot, good-looking or pretty.
You can also use it to refer to things with the meaning of “cute,” however if you to travel to Spain, don’t use this word to refer to people—since a chulo is “a pimp.”
¿Viste ese chulo en la panadería? (Did you see that hot guy in the bakery?)
39. ¿A poco? (Really?)
There’s no way to translate this one literally, it just comes back as nonsense. Mexicans, however, use it to say “really?” when they’re feeling incredulous.
Ale dijo que ganó la lotería! (Alex said that he won the lottery!)
¿A poco? ¿Lo crees? (Really? Do you believe him?)
40. ¡Órale! (Right on!)
This exclamation basically means “right on!” or in some situations is used as a message of approval like “let’s do it!”
Órale is another Mexican slang word that’s considered inoffensive and is appropriate for almost any social situation.
It can be said quickly and excitedly or offered up with a long, drawn-out “o” sound.
Creo que te puedo ganar. (I think I can beat you).
¡Órale! A ver. (Bring it on! Let’s see).
41. Chela (Beer)
Simple enough, chela is a Mexican slang word for beer.
In other parts of Latin America, chela is a woman who’s blond (usually with fair skin and blue eyes).
No one is quite sure if there’s a link between the two, and it seems unclear how the word came to mean “beer” in the first place.
¿Quieres tomar unas chelas? (Do you want to have a few beers?)
42. La tira (The cops)
A tira is a “strip,” but when you use it as a Mexican slang word, you mean the cops.
¡Aguas! ¡Ahí viene la tira! (Watch out! The fuzz are coming!)
43. ¿Mande? (What?)
This is used in Mexico in place of ¿qué? or ¿cómo? to respond when someone says your name.
Luis, ¿estás allí? (Luis, are you there?)
¿Mande? ¿Me llamaste? (What? Did you call me?)
44. Suave (Cool)
Technically, suave translates to “soft,” but suave is a way to say “cool.”
¡Ese mural es suave! (That mural is cool!)
45. Gacho (Mean)
This literally means “slouch,” but it’s used to say something is mean or ugly.
Enrique es gacho. (Enrique is mean.)
46. Ándale (Hurry up)
Andar means “to walk,” so ándale is a shortened version of the verb combined with the suffix “-le,” a sort of grammatical placeholder that adds no meaning to the word.
Use this to tell someone to hurry up.
¡Ándale! Necesitamos estar ahi a las 8. (Hurry up! We need to be there at 8.)
47. Chale (Give me a break)
Chale doesn’t really have a clear literal translation, but it’s most often used to show your annoyance.
It’s similar to the English “give me a break.”
Su coche tardará dos semanas en arreglarse. (Your car will take two weeks to fix.)
¡Chale! (Give me a break!)
48. Chamba/Chambear (Work)
Chamba and chambear mean “work” and “to work,” respectively.
No me gusta mi chamba. (I don’t like my job.)
49. Bronca (Problem)
The word bronca means “problem,” and it’s used in expressions like no hay bronca (“no problem”) and tengo broncotas (“I’m in big trouble”).
Mi familia tiene broncas con mi hermano. (My family has problems with my brother.)
50. Paro (Favor)
Though the official word for “favor” in Spanish is the cognate favor, paro is another way of referring to a favor in Mexico.
Hazme el paro means “do me a favor.”
Puedes hacerme el paro? (Can you do me a favor?)
What You Need to Know About Mexican Spanish
Here’s some good things to know about Mexican Spanish:
- In Mexican Spanish, the pronoun tú is used for the second-person familiar form. Mexicans don’t use vos.
- The pronoun vosotros isn’t used in Mexican Spanish. Mexicans use ustedes even in informal settings.
- Mexican Spanish features more loanwords from English than other national dialects. You will hear a lot more English words in Mexican Spanish than other dialects.
Resources for Learning Mexican Slang
Quick Guide to Mexican Slang
This is a compact volume filled with definitions, example sentences, online links and lots of relevant information about Mexican Spanish.
There are more than 500 words and phrases included in this book.
This language learning program uses authentic Spanish videos with interactive subtitles to help you learn.
It allows you to watch and listen to real Spanish as native speakers use it, and pick up more natural speech as a result.
There’s plenty of content from Mexico, including clips from Mexican shows, music videos, TED talks and more.
Videos are accompanied by accurate subtitles in Spanish and English that allow you to see its definition, pronunciation and examples.
You can also create flashcards from new words you come across, then study them with personalized quizzes.
The program also includes a premade set of flashcards of Mexican slang terms, where you can study the words and see videos where they appear.
Content is categorized by skill level, format and topic, and you can search for key words to find content that suits your learning goals and interests.
Plus, if you aren’t able to sit at a computer and access the FluentU website, you can also use the program on-the-go with the iOS and Android apps.
“Mexislang” is the end result of a blog that was intended to teach readers about Mexican slang.
It offers insight into the history of slang expressions and tips for how to use each word or phrase.
Na’atik Language and Culture Institute
This Mexican language school offers immersive programs in both Maya and Spanish.
The option to stay with Mexican families to immerse in the language is a great way to learn about culture—including slang!
But if you’re not up for traveling, courses are also available in online one-on-one or small group format.
Online classes focus on grammar and conversational skills, so you’re sure to pick up plenty of slang along the way.
Also, they have a fantastic blog that’s both informative and entertaining.
Why You Should Learn Mexican Slang
Like with English, Spanish is spoken differently depending on the country—in fact, you could argue that Spanish differs even more than English!
In order to understand and be understood in Mexican Spanish, it’s pretty essential that you learn some common Mexican slang.
If you’re not convinced, here are some reasons you might want to learn the lingo:
- To avoid awkward situations. Don’t count on every Spanish word being transferrable from place to place—something that is perfectly polite in Spanish from Spain could be considered rude in Mexican Spanish.
- If you’re learning Spanish in the United States. Considering that the States has such a huge Mexican population, chances are that you’ll encounter lots of Mexican Spanish speakers!
- For travel in Mexico. For both safety reasons and to ensure smooth travels, it’s a good idea to brush up on your slang.
- To sound more fluent. Of course, learning slang words is one of the surest ways of making your Spanish sound more natural and fluent!
Slang is perfect for instantly turning “program” Spanish into street Spanish.
More importantly, they offer insight into some cultural nuances that language learners don’t always get to see.
Use slangy terms to power up conversations and go from basic to vivid in a heartbeat!