13 Paraguayan Slang Words to Speak the Local Lingo
Paraguay has been called the world’s happiest country, which is no surprise given the beauty of the place. One of the reasons cited is its cultural tendency to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than dwell on any negatives.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Paraguay, such as the Ojo de Mar or the Iquazu Falls but you need to know some Paraguayan slang before you go.
Sure, it’s good to know Spanish, but knowing the local lingo will make your experience that much better.
This post will show you 13 of the most common Paraguayan slang phrases you should know!
- 1. Chake
- 2. Bagre
- 3. Tranquilopa
- 4. ¿Qué tal?
- 5. Tembo’i
- 6. Haku
- 7. Purete
- 8. Guapo / Guapa
- 9. Chipa
- 10. Terere
- 11. Chisme
- 12. Ahata-ayu
- 13. Chera’a
- What to Expect from Paraguayan Spanish
- Why Learn Paraguayan Slang?
- How to Practice Paraguayan Slang
Chake is a word that you kind of hope you don’t hear often. And if you do, pay attention to whatever’s going on, fast!
It’s a word of warning that means to look out or beware—something’s about to happen and you may need to duck or get out of the way.
¡Chake! ¡Ese autobús viene demasiado rápido! (Look out! That bus is coming too fast!)
A bagre is a type of catfish and while it’s not particularly attractive, it’s also not terribly repulsive.
However, when the word is used as a slang term, it means that a woman isn’t attractive. In other words, it’s a way of saying a woman is ugly.
¿Has visto a la nueva esposa de Juan? ¡Bagre! (Have you seen Juan’s new wife? Ugly!)
Tranquilopa means everything’s okay.
It’s a combination of both official Paraguayan languages: the Spanish word tranquilo (tranquil) plus the Guaraní word pa (everything), forms this creative expression that is used often and covers many situations.
¿Cómo está tu cena? ¿Cómo está tu arroz y frijoles? (How’s your dinner? How are your rice and beans?)
¡Tranquilopa! (Everything’s okay!)
4. ¿Qué tal?
This slangy greeting is something any visitor is going to hear often in Paraguay. It means “Hello” or “What’s up?”
It’s definitely not specific to Paraguay—lots of Spanish-speaking countries use this expression—but it’s much more common than a formal greeting so it’s a good idea to get comfortable saying and hearing it.
“¿Qué tal?” from a store clerk.
“¿Qué tal?” from a bartender in the local club.
“¿Qué tal?” from the kid who passes you in the street.
See? It’s one of those expressions that you could hear from anyone, anywhere.
This is another word you probably don’t want to hear, especially if you’re a male.
That’s because tembo’i refers to small male genitalia.
It can refer to the actual physical item itself or it can be used as an insult.
In Spanish, we usually add -ito or -ita to indicate something is small.
Guaraní has a similar rule, where adding i to the end of a word signifies that the object or person is little or petite.
For instance, if you have a short friend named Lupe, you might call her Lupe’i.
Just remember that this word can be easily confused with the word tembi’u, which is a casual food term.
¡El es un idiota! ¡Tembo’i!
(He’s an idiot! Tiny [you-know-what]!)
Haku is a reference to the weather that means it’s hot out.
Given that Paraguay has a subtropical climate, this is a very useful expression!
¡Haku! (It’s hot!)
Purete means “cool” but has absolutely no connection to the weather.
It’s a cool way to say “¡No hay problema!” (“No problem!”)
When la camarera (the waitress) realizes she’s goofed on your breakfast order, just wave a hand and say, “¡Purete!”
8. Guapo / Guapa
Literally translated, guapo or guapa means “handsome” or “beautiful” but in Paraguay it’s a slang word for “hard-working.”
¿Mi hermano? ¡Él es guapo! (My brother? He’s a hard worker!)
This is a traditional Paraguayan cheesy bread.
¿Quieres probar chipa? (Do you want to try chipa?)
This is actually Paraguay’s national beverage.
It is a cold drink that is made from yerba mate and has even been recognized for its cultural significance by UNESCO.
Terere es mi bebida favorita. (Terere is my favorite drink.)
This is a slang term for gossip or rumors.
Les gusta difundir los chismes. (They like to spread rumors.)
Since there is so much Guaraní influence, it makes sense that words from this language would make their way into daily use.
Most Paraguayans will use this to say goodbye.
Ahata-ayu, ¡hasta luego! (Goodbye, I’ll see you later!)
Another Guaraní word, this means “my friend.”
¿Estás lista para ir, chera’a? (Are you ready to go, my friend?)
What to Expect from Paraguayan Spanish
Paraguay is a bilingual country that has two official languages: Spanish and Paraguayan Guaraní. The majority of the population speaks the indigenous language, Guaraní.
Guaraní is a very old language that has survived mostly due to Paraguay’s relative isolation. Paraguay is located between Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia and completely landlocked, resulting in minimal outside influence.
While Paraguayan Guaraní is taught in schools, many people speak what’s called Jopará—an everyday mix of Spanish and Guaraní.
The most important things to keep in mind about Paraguayan Spanish is that there will be heavy Guaraní influence and Paraguayans also use the voseo verb conjugation. This means that vos (you) takes the place of the second person pronoun—instead of tu (you).
Why Learn Paraguayan Slang?
Of course you need to have some basic Spanish knowledge to start communicating in Paraguay, but slang will give you a lot more context.
Knowing idiomatic expressions will boost your vocabulary and add to your language skills.
By coming to understand Paraguay’s slang, you will be able to understand more about the people and their point of view. You will also be able to understand more of the language and be able to communicate more efficiently yourself.
Not to mention, Paraguay does not often see as many foreign visitors as some other destinations in Central and South America, so knowing the colloquial language specific to that region will really demonstrate your dedication to learning about this beautiful country.
With all of these slang terms under your belt, you will be one step closer to fitting in with the locals and building deeper relationships with them!
How to Practice Paraguayan Slang
There are plenty of ways for you to practice Paraguayan slang, and the best method is to start speaking Spanish and seeing how slang makes its way into your speech!
Try to find someone from Paraguay that you can have a conversation with and notice how they use slang, then try using some yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you don’t understand as most native speakers are happy to help!
You can also practice listening to Paraguayan Spanish with resources like YouTube videos, music, podcasts, etc.
Another option is FluentU, which will have Spanish videos that natives would watch, including some videos with Paraguayan speakers.
These videos include everything from movie clips to music videos and more that all come with interactive subtitles, flashcards and quizzes.
Find FluentU on iOS or Android.
The bottom line? When you head to Paraguay, don’t leave home without some lingo!